Yesterday’s report of candidate spending at last year’s
federal election highlighted Malcolm Turnbull’s $609,201 campaign for
the Sydney seat of Wentworth. But how can you spend that much in one
electorate?

Crikey understands the
biggest components were direct mail, newspaper advertising and research
– what political operatives have described as a “marginal seats package
with a few additional items.” Turnbull has emphasised in the past that
his spending was always going to be transparent because, unlike other
less-well-heeled candidates, he decided to fund his own campaign and
disclose the amount spent so that Liberal Party money could be spent on
other marginal seats. And Turnbull’s spend was abnormally high because
he was going flat out from March 2004, well before campaigning started
in other seats.

As for the question of transparency,
Turnbull wasn’t a sitting member so he couldn’t spend government money
like his sitting opponent in Wentworth, Peter King, who presumably used
all his electorate entitlements on printing, communications and postage
right up until the time he declared. So King’s expenditure to run as an
independent of just $138,355 represented only the last four weeks of
the campaign, while Turnbull’s represented nearly seven months.

But Turnbull supporters today were
questioning the King figure. King says he spent $18,000 on advertising,
and have disclosed that around $7,000 was spent in the Jewish News, which leaves just $11,000 spent in the Wentworth Courier. Yet there was no disclosure from the Hannan-owned Courier, where King run a motza of advertising that was unlikely to be given to him for nothing. Or was it?

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW