Real cost of Premier’s propaganda unit

The hardest working office in the state government appears to be Annastacia Palaszczuk's personal propaganda unit. And you're paying for it.

Multiple still and video camera operators as well as editors are on hand every day to shoot, cut and splice footage that presents the Premier in the best possible light.

From moody black and white numbers to long-winded videos, the material produced by the propaganda unit is being spewed onto social media channels ad nauseam in the lead-up to the election.

The crew were even considered crucial enough to be part of the team that went to Cairns this week, packaging up videos of the government interviewing itself and material that looked suspiciously like election advertisements.

And guess what? You're paying for it.

The presence of the propaganda unit at Ms Palaszczuk's press conferences has caused some tension with real members of the media who have been told to move out of the way so they can get pictures of the Premier.

The government's advertising and marketing code of conduct states material "must not attempt to foster a positive impression of a political party or promote party-political interests".

A moody shot of Annastacia Palaszczuk courtesy of her PR team.
A moody shot of Annastacia Palaszczuk courtesy of her PR team.

But the code was tweaked some time back to say "it does not apply to advertising and communication activity undertaken, and paid for, by ministerial offices".

Meanwhile, the real cost of the propaganda unit has been hidden in ministerial expenses because, according to the books, many work for ministers not the Premier.

But either way, you're paying for it.

pictures to go with the George Street main. , Annastacia Palaszczuk, For Steve Wardill
pictures to go with the George Street main. , Annastacia Palaszczuk, For Steve Wardill

 

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COCK OF THE WALK

Former Sydney Roosters supremo John Lee hasn't taken a backward step since being turfed off the Cross River Rail board along with almost everyone else in March.

Unlike a lot of other struggling PR outfits around town, Lee's Newgate Communications, which now has digs in Waterfront Place, has been doing pretty well during the coronavirus crisis. It has landed two contracts with the Department of Premier and Cabinet since April which total $190,000. Both were to provide services for the Government's COVID-19 response and recovery taskforce. According to some insiders, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk highly values the advice of Lee, who is also a director of Netball Australia and the North Queensland Cowboys.

John Lee in his Sydney Roosters days. Picture: Calum Robertson
John Lee in his Sydney Roosters days. Picture: Calum Robertson

 

ANNASTACIA'S OMEN  

Hopefully Annastacia Palaszczuk doesn't believe in omens after a horse bearing her name finished second in its debut race on the Sunshine Coast on Monday.

The horse named PALASZCZUK is owned by furniture spruiker Gerry Harvey and trained by Michael Costa (not the former NSW Labor treasurer).

The winner was a horse called Explosive Quality.

AMBO AMBITION

Is Thuringowa MP Aaron Harper eyeing a return to his former career or has he concocted one very clever re-election strategy? With under five weeks left until the starter's gun gets fired for the state election, you'd think Harper would be dedicating every waking second to reclaiming his margin seat in the political melting pot of Townsville.

Queensland Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Dan Peled
Queensland Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Dan Peled

Instead, he's gone through the application process to become an ambulance officer again and has started volunteering his time at the Kirwan Station. His moonlighting for the Queensland Ambulance Service has the blessing of Palaszczuk and Minister for Health Steven Miles.

 

SOLO COMEBACK

Meanwhile, someone attempting to relive their golden years as a politician is former Labor minister Margaret Keech. Keech had 11 years in Parliament from 2001 and was a minister in the Beattie and Bligh governments before being ousted in the 2012 Campbell Newman rout. However, at some point she's parted ways with her old chums from Peel Street and she's running in Macalister as a fully-fledged independent.

Margaret Keech is running in Macalister.
Margaret Keech is running in Macalister.

"I am no longer a member of a political party. My campaign is 100 per cent self-funded," Keech enthuses on her website. With a safe margin of 7.4 per cent, you'd think Labor would be nonplussed about it but some are unimpressed. "She was a dud minister who is now trying to get re-elected and paying for it with her taxpayer-funded pension," one observer said. Ouch.

 

HOPE DINE AND DASHED

We had high hopes that the city that gave us "Fettagate" would deliver another great scandal. Back in 2008 during a regional parliament sitting, LNP MPs did a runner on the restaurant bill after a raucous evening at a Cairns Greek taverna.

The dispute over splitting the tab forced then-leader Lawrence Springborg to introduce "wining and dining" rules for his MPs. Alas, despite our best efforts we couldn't turn up any after-hours skulduggery while Labor ministers were in the far north for community cabinet this week. The greatest intrigue was seeing the Right faction's Yvette D'Ath sit down to dinner with the Old Guard's Grace Grace at Dundee's Restaurant.

Attorney-General Yvette D'ath. Picture: Liam Kidston
Attorney-General Yvette D'ath. Picture: Liam Kidston

 

Originally published as Real cost of Premier's propaganda unit



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