Premier pays $380k for ‘likes’

Geelong Advertiser - - NEWS - RUSTY WOODGER

A GEE­LONG man is lead­ing a push to cre­ate a new fed­eral po­lit­i­cal party.

For­mer eco­nomics pro­fes­sor Paul Ross is be­hind The Cit­i­zen’s Div­i­dend Party, which is call­ing for a dras­tic over­haul of Aus­tralia’s wel­fare sys­tem.

Self de­scribed as a “one is­sue party”, its key pol­icy is the in­tro­duc­tion of a uni­ver­sal ba­sic in­come, in which most Aus­tralian res­i­dents would be el­i­gi­ble to re­ceive thou­sands of dol­lars in pay­outs, merely for be­ing law-abid­ing cit­i­zens.

Mr Ross said the sys­tem would be largely propped up by con­sump­tion tax and that, un­der 2018 mod­el­ling, adults would be el­i­gi­ble to re­ceive about $19,000 each per year. Par­ents would also be able to re­ceive $5000 per child.

“The el­i­gi­bil­ity cri­te­ria is to vote at elec­tions and don’t get in­car­cer­ated — and that’s it,” Mr Ross said.

“We’re all part of so­ci­ety … we go about our ac­tiv­i­ties. In just the way we live our lives like that, we’re able to show that we’re re­spon­si­ble and we’re adding some­thing to so­ci­ety; some­thing quite apart from paid work, which I think is only a mi­nor part of it.

“Many peo­ple, for ex­am­ple par­ents, are do­ing a lot for so­ci­ety in ways that aren’t re­flected in their take-home pay.”

Mr Ross ar­gued the pro­posal com­bined the “very best” of so­cial­ism and cap­i­tal­ism, claim­ing it would mo­ti­vate peo­ple to “help them­selves and their loved ones”.

“It gives a foun­da­tion for ev­ery­one in so­ci­ety and frees them up from the fi­nan­cial wor­ries that of­ten drive things like do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and fam­ily break­down,” he said.

Mr Ross has set an am­bi­tious task of get­ting the party reg­is­tered ahead of the next fed­eral elec­tion. To do so, the party needs 500 mem­bers, but as of yes­ter­day it only had 13.

Mr Ross ac­knowl­edged he has a “big chal­lenge” ahead.

“At this point we just want to get reg­is­tered,” he said. “We would just like to be a voice in the wilder­ness yelling out, and if some­one hears us, that’s good — they can take the idea on board, or not.

“We just feel that the ideas we’re talk­ing about are just not rep­re­sented in any way, shape or form.”

For more about the party’s poli­cies, visit cit­i­zens-div­i­dend.org PREMIER Daniel An­drews has spent at least $380,000 of tax­payer money hunt­ing for ‘ Likes’ for his Face­book page and on cre­at­ing videos he starred in, that were shared on his so­cial me­dia plat­forms.

Since com­ing to power in 2014 Mr An­drews’ has billed the tax­payer at least $98,000 for mar­ket­ing firms to cre­ate videos he ap­peared in.

The Premier also dipped into the pub­lic purse for other pro­duc­tion costs — in­clud­ing mu­sic li­cence fees and car and equip­ment hire.

He has also spent at least $284,000 in just two years boost­ing his Face­book posts to push La­bor’s mes­sage to the widest pos­si­ble on­line au­di­ence.

The great­est video cost were the se­ries of clips — most star­ring Mr An­drews — used to pro­mote the state bud­gets.

The 2017-18 Bud­get se­ries of videos cost $53,401 and in­cluded 15 videos shared via his Face­book page.

Tax­pay­ers were also billed $687.50 for a “Face­book Live Q&A” with Mr An­drews and co­me­dian Corinne Grant about that year’s Bud­get. An­other $2,730 was spent for a bou­tique video pro­duc­tion house to in­ter­view the Premier about how his fa­ther’s death shaped his views on vol­un­tary as­sisted dy­ing.

The $98,857 video pro­duc­tion fig­ure, re­leased un­der a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quest, does not in­clude the costs of pro­duc­ing flashy videos show­cas­ing La­bor in­fra­struc­ture projects.

The gov­ern­ment said the ma­jor­ity of the spend was on pro­duc­ing videos to ad­ver­tise the Vic­to­rian Bud­get, which was stan­dard prac­tice and not cre­ated just for the Premier’s so­cial me­dia pages.

Pic­ture: GLENN FER­GU­SON

PARTY PLAN: Gee­long West man Paul Ross is at­tempt­ing to start a new fed­eral po­lit­i­cal party.

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