Australian federal police are investigating the Labor Party after it sent text messages to voters on election day that appeared under the name “Medicare”.
A Queensland Labor party spokesman told The Guardian: “The message was not intended to indicate that it was a message from Medicare, rather to identify the subject of the text.
“The message was consistent with Labor’s message throughout the campaign. There should be no surprise that this was not a government message.”
The AFP says the matter is now being evaluated but it could not comment further on the issue.
Here’s the text in question.
— Sean Parnell (@seanparnell) July 3, 2016
— Monique Ross (@rossmonique) July 2, 2016
The text was the final act in Labor’s Medicare campaign, which ran online and on TV. Voters were also “robo-called” with a phone message.
“You don’t set up a Medicare privatisation taskforce unless you aim to privatise Medicare,” Hawke told viewers in one ad.
“Piece by piece, brick by brick, the Libs want to tear it down,” Labor leader Bill Shorten said.
Devised by Erinn Swan, head of digital at ALP campaign headquarters in Melbourne and the daughter of former treasurer Wayne Swan, and endorsed by former prime minister Bob Hawke, the campaign resonated with voters, particularly in Victorian marginal seats, despite the believe that state issues, such as the Andrews government’s fight with the CFA, were playing in the Coalition’s favour.
On Saturday night, the Liberals and prime minister Malcolm Turnbull blamed Labor’s Medicare campaign for the party’s poor showing at the ballot box.
Turnbull described Labor’s tactics as “some of the most systematic, well-funded lies ever peddled in Australian politics”. He claimed that because of the texts, thousand may have voted against the Liberal Party, despite repeatedly stating that Medicare would “never, ever” be privatised.
As Pamela Wilson of The Australian writes: “The Coalition had not anticipated Shorten would turn Medicare into a giant privatisation scare. It was unprepared.”
See the ad here.
Many are now questioning the legality of the text messages. Health minister Sussan Ley said the text message was fraudulent.
As the election currently stands, it looks likes the Coalition has lost 11 seats to Labor, including Bass, Braddon, Lindsay, Lyons, Macquarie, Eden Monaro, Longman, Macarthur, Herbert, Burt and Solomon.
Labor has lost Chisholm to the Liberals.
This morning, Labor is leading the Coalition on 50.22% to 49.78% on a two party preferred basis.
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