The West

Labor launches phone barrage
On the line: Labor's Louise Pratt and Bill Shorten. Picture: Simon Santi/The West Australian

One in every two WA telephone land lines has been targeted by Labor in the most widespread use of so-called robocalling in the history of political campaigning in the State.

And, unusually, it is State Labor leader Mark McGowan who has been at the centre of Labor's campaign messaging, reading a script that urges voters to use the Senate election to "send a message" about the Barnett Government's changes to education funding.

_The West Australian _ has learnt Labor is using cheap internet telephony to make the calls, which cost as little as 8� each.

It is understood Labor tested as many has half a dozen different messages and messengers - including Federal leader Bill Shorten, his deputy Tanya Plibersek, Senator Louise Pratt and Perth MHR Alannah MacTiernan - on up to 10,000 callers before settling on Mr McGowan and the education message.

Labor strategists were able to measure how long recipients of the robocalls stayed on the line before hanging up and then placed follow-up calls to find out whether they had shifted voting intentions.

Never before have automated calls been used so widely in a WA campaign, though insiders acknowledge they are not as successful as targeting voters aged under 35, who are increasingly likely not to have a land line, only a mobile phone.

In the face of attacks by the Liberal Party over Labor's refusal to abolish the carbon tax and the mining tax, ALP strategists are attempting to shift the debate to health and education and a scare campaign about the Abbott Government's unreleased 900-page Commission of Audit Report.

Conventional political wisdom is that voters treat State and Federal issues separately.

Labor State secretary Simon Mead said the separation was "clear" but that "Tony Abbott said he would model himself on Colin Barnett".

Liberal State director Ben Morton said it was a risky strategy to mix State and Federal issues and voters were not stupid.

"West Australians are smart enough to realise the difference between State and Federal elections," he said. 'Tony Abbott said he would model himself on Colin Barnett.'" Labor State secretary Simon Mead

The West Australian

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