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ROBOFLOP: Push for ban after another Lib phone poll gaffe

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Premier Steven Marshall has been forced to condemn another “completely unacceptable” Liberal Party bungle that saw hundreds of households receive automated phone polls before sunrise for the second day in a row, sparking Opposition calls to ban the practice.

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Liberal state director Sascha Meldrum yesterday apologised for a failed ‘robo-call’ survey asking respondents whether they thought the state was “generally heading in the right direction or… seriously heading in the wrong direction”, which inadvertently went out to hundreds of households “between 6:15am and 7:15am” – instead of the previous evening.

But the unwanted phone calls continued this morning, this time targeting hundreds more constituents in the Hills area.

It sparked a second successive day of talkback anger from disgruntled recipients – and ignited the ire of the Premier.

“The simple fact of the matter is it was completely and utterly unacceptable,” he told ABC Radio Adelaide, adding that he had called Liberal state president John Olsen to express “my complete dissatisfaction”.

“He’s committed to a thorough investigation – this will not happen again,” Marshall said.

“Sascha Meldrum issued an apology yesterday, there’ll be another apology this morning. This can’t happen again.”

HEAR THE ROBO-CALL BELOW:


Meldrum said in a statement today while all survey calls had been “wiped from the system” after the original error, “this must be a hangover from yesterday’s problem”.

“Sincere apologies to anyone in the Hills who were affected,” she said in a statement.

“This will not happen again as we will not be using the same supplier for phone surveys again.”

A Google search links the phone number used for the calls to Symbio Networks, a VOIP [Voice over Internet Protocol] provider. InDaily has contacted the company for comment.

The escalating bungle prompted the Labor Opposition to declare it would seek to amend the state Electoral Act to ban robo-calls by political parties in SA.

“We’ve seen Steven Marshall’s Liberal Party go from bad to worse when it comes to some basic functions,” Labor leader Peter Malinauskas said today.

“[Yesterday] we saw an extraordinary bungle when it comes to robo-calls… now that’s transcended to a complete embarrassment for Steven Marshall.”

He added it was “worth contemplating why the Liberal Party is actually performing these robo-calls at obscure hours of the morning”, noting it was designed to seek feedback on “Steven Marshall’s budget… full of privatisations [and] higher taxes and charges”.

“Let’s ban these robo-calls for all political parties, and makes sure SA households aren’t been bombarded with these calls,” he said.

“If South Australians are going to hear from politicians, let’s make sure it’s a real person not some annoying robot.”

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