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Labor leader's $20k Facebook campaign

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Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas has spent nearly $20,000 on Facebook advertising since the March 2018 election – considerably more than his bill for traditional radio and print messaging – and paid $28,000 to a consulting firm headed by a Labor communications and polling guru.

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Labor today released to InDaily documents detailing the Opposition Leader’s advertising bill from March 2018 to June this year.

The Marshall Government last year added Opposition Leaders’ expenditure to the state’s proactive disclosure rules, which ensure ministers reveal their expenditure publicly on a regular basis.

Receipts show that in September last year Labor paid $19,297 to Melbourne-based Moss Group for “Peter Malinauskas’s Facebook campaign”, after a discount which cut the price by $17, 543.

Labor said it used Facebook to promote Malinauskas’s Facebook page, community events, “Labor listens” forums and its “community shadow cabinet”, to respond to budget and government announcements and campaign against privatisation and closure of TAFEs and Service SA branches.

Steven Marshall’s Facebook advertising bill as Liberal Opposition leader from mid-2016 to March 2108 was $8700.

Labor also paid Moss Group a further $8475 for digital media advice in April this year.

In September 2018 – following the Marshall Government’s first State Budget – Malinauskas’s office paid $28,600 to Visibility Consulting, a strategic communications firm whose director Tony Mitchelmore worked on the federal Kevin ’07 campaign and who has conducted focus groups and polling across 12 elections, including the 2014 SA election.

Labor said Visibility Consulting’s brief “included research into government decisions impacting South Australians including the 2018/19 State Budget, assistance on strategic development of communication and other advice”.

Other invoices show that in March and April this year, the Opposition spent $275 with Radio Italiana, $330 with Radio ENA Radio, and in June spent $4092 with FiveAA, $5830 with Mix and $1210 with Cruise 1323, along with a $918 studio production package from Timms Tunes.

Labor said it used radio advertising to respond to the 2019/20 State Budget and its “massive increases to fees, charges and taxes”.

It also spent $1000 for an ad in a Holy Mary of Montevergine Association programme in May, and $550 for Feast Festival advertising, for a total radio and print spend of just over $13,000.

Labor said it was still seeking more information about Marshall’s expenditure while Opposition Leader.

An Opposition FOI request seeking the release of credit card, entertainment, catering and overseas travel expenditure between 2013 to 2018 has only been partially released, with the Premier refusing to release documents between 2013 and 31 October 2016,” a spokesperson said.

 “The Opposition has now lodged an official complaint against the determination and is seeking an explanation as to why the Premier only released documents between 31 October 2016 and March 2018.”

However, Treasurer Rob Lucas told InDaily last month that the Department of Treasury and Finance, which holds the documents, had not been able to locate documents before 2016, due to a change in its records management system.

Labor also wants the proactive disclosure scheme to be extended to other office holders like the Speaker of the House Assembly and the President of Legislative Council.

“These offices are similar in fashion to the Leader of the Opposition’s Office, they are Parliamentary office holders and are publicly funded, so there should be no reason why these offices should not also be included in the proactive disclosure regime,” the spokesperson said.

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