Barnett defends $1.5m advertising campaign
Colin Barnett at the official launch of the Get the Bigger Picture campaign at Main Roads’ traffic headquarters. Picture: Lee Griffith/The West Australian

Premier Colin Barnett says a $1.5 million advertising campaign to promote “big picture” government projects is “just factual information” and dismissed Opposition claims it treats people as morons.

Despite the Opposition revealing leaked scripts of the advertisements on Thursday, forcing the Government to defend the advertisements, three ministers today attended an official launch of the Get the Bigger Picture multi-media campaign at Main Roads’ traffic headquarters.

Mr Barnett said a lot of people did not know details about major infrastructure projects such as Elizabeth Quay, the sports stadium at Burswood and the children’s hospital and the ads would direct them to a website containing more information about traffic and other disruptions.

He said “clearly” there would be congestion issues around each project and the campaign consolidated the advertising.

“I thought that was totally inappropriate of (Labor frontbencher) Ben Wyatt to refer to the people of Western Australian as morons and twits,” he said.

“I don’t accept that at all. This is about treating the people of Western Australia with respect and providing factual information.”

Mr Barnett said the campaign was not political because it would stop in December, three months out from the March election.

He also rejected claims of hypocrisy given his previous comments about the proper use of taxpayers’ money on Government advertising.

Mr Barnett said he objected to “crass political advertising” but this provided “genuine, real, detailed information”.

The 60 second and 15 second advertisements include a dad fishing with his son on the banks of the Swan River opposite the location for the planned stadium at Burswood and a passenger in a taxi speaking to the driver about Elizabeth Quay.

There is also a dog in one advertisement next to the Children’s Hospital, contradicting Planning Minister John Day’s claims on Friday that “there’s no dog”.

However, unlike the draft version, the dog has no “speaking part” and is merely picked up by its owner.

Mr Wyatt this morning stood by his comments, saying the advertisements were “a gimmick” that gave “no information of use”.

“We’ve seen what these ads are,” he said.

“They’re nothing more than a poorly written political advertising campaign.”

He said tender documents showed the Government’s spend for public authorities had reached $70 million in four years.

But, Mr Barnett said the Government had saved $92 million on advertising spending since it reached a high under the former Labor government of $36 million in 2007-08.

The West Australian

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