Australian Labor Party says Government delaying election call so it can use taxpayer funds to pay for advertising policies

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Opposition Leader Bill Shorten
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten
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The Federal Opposition has accused the Government of deliberately delaying the election so it can continue to access taxpayer funds for advertising policies and programs.

The ABC understands Prime Minister Scott Morrison will not visit the Governor-General this weekend, meaning unless the election is called on Monday, a May 11 poll is out of the equation.

That leaves May 18 and May 25, although the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has indicated the later date would make it harder to count the votes before the constitutional deadline to return the results.

Mr Morrison has again refused to be drawn on what the date will be, saying: “The election will be called in April and held in May.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has accused the Government of dragging its feet so it can continue to use public funds for its advertising campaigns.

Once the writs are issued for the poll, the Government needs Opposition approval to continue any advertisements.

“This Government wants to spend tens of millions of dollars in TV advertising to pump up their own tyres,” Mr Shorten said.

“That’s why they’re buying time; so they can spend more of Australians’ money.”

Labor has released tender figures indicating the Government has spent $250 million on advertising since January 2018.

Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese told Sky News the Coalition was wasting taxpayer funds.

“This is outrageous. Scott Morrison should do one of two things today … he either should go and visit the Governor-General and call the election, or he should commit to stopping all taxpayer-funded advertising right now,” he said.

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The Government has disputed Labor’s figures, describing them as “lies”.

It said using data from tender documents was misleading, as there was often a discrepancy between the offered and final price.

Mr Morrison said he would not make plans based on Labor demands.

“I’m also not going to take lectures from the Labor Party that defied every single convention that has been known to Australian elections, when they ran taxpayer-funded ads during the 2013 caretaker period,” he said.

“All of these arrangements are done according to strict guidelines and they’re run by impartial, independent government departments.”

Appearing on Insiders, the Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said all government spending was above board.

“We will continue to spend on government advertising, just like the Labor Party,” he said.

“Money is being spent in accordance with approved processes, and that’s all transparent.”


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