MATTHEW ABRAHAM: A very interesting story raised by Leanne from Kilburn; I think let’s let Leanne tell her story, but it’s about getting your hopes up and then having them dashed after getting a leaflet from Kate Ellis
[plays back audio from previous day]
CALLER, LEANNE:I was flicking through the election junk mail and I got one from Kate Ellis and it’s got all these dot points about what they’re going to do for us, and one of them reads, ‘more than 21,000 pensioners in Adelaide to receive a significant increase in their fortnightly payments’ and I though, ‘that sounds great’. Gave her office a ring and they said, ‘oh no that was a mistake, you got that last year’.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Oh really.
CALLER, LEANNE: And I said, ‘um, are you going to rescind that comment? Because that’s incorrect and misleading people’. ‘Oh no, no. People can ring us if they want to. We’ll tell them.’
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Ah, so they said it was a mistake?
CALLER, LEANNE: Oh it’s a complete mistake.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: The money’s already been paid, you’re not going to get it?
CALLER, LEANNE: We’re not going to get anything. At all. Just the usual CPI increase, but it would make people think, as I did, that we’re going to get a significant increase and no, we’re not. It was a mistake, they didn’t mean to print it, which makes me wonder what other mistakes are on these things.
DAVID BEVAN: Now, we did put in a call to speak to Kate Ellis and ask her what she’s going to do with this material and we’ve been told that she’ll be able to talk to us later on in the morning. So stay with us here … they have issued a statement in which Kate Ellis says, ‘I am proud to be a part of the Government which has delivered the biggest increase to the aged pension in more than 100 years. I am keen to clarify that more than 21,000 pensioners in Adelaide will continue to benefit from the record pension increase of up to $100 a fortnight for singles and up to $74 for couples delivered by Labor.’. Well of course they’re going to continue to get it because they got it last year, but the question that Leanne was raising is that your leaflet says you are to receive an increase in the pension; she rang up to find out what that increase was and was told ‘no no no, you’re not getting one’.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: And look, Kate Ellis is literally getting on a plane we were told when that statement was sent through but we hope to be able to talk to her later in the morning around 11 in the Soapbox, but I suppose the message is ‘we’re not going to take away your pension increase’ if you’re going to continue to get it. Because there’s no news in that. Simon Birmingham, though, is Liberal Senator – … we do find that Ms Ellis’s counterpart, is it Luke Westley, stopped returning phone calls when we wanted to talk to him. But Simon Birmingham, you’ll do it for him? Luke busy, is he?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: I’m sure Luke is out on the hustings, Matthew; I haven’t spoken or seen Luke this morning.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Okay, and you are Liberal Senator for South Australia?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: I am indeed.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: So you’ll be a mouthpiece for Luke Westley on this issue?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: I’m my own mouthpiece … Kate Ellis has a real case to answer here. You can’t go out and send across an electorate to what would be 100,000 voters, to claim that Adelaide’s pensioners will receive a significant increase in their fortnightly payment and then say ‘oops, that was a mistake’. Now under state electoral laws, if this were a state election, she would have to send out a corrective statement and what Kate Ellis should do is volunteer to send out a corrective statement o all of the electors of Adelaide, saying that she got it wrong, saying what she said in a statement to you the she got it wrong, that this information is misleading and all Labor are promising to do is continue to deliver the same pension payments , … include the increase, but it was an increase that apparently even Julia Gillard opposed. So she needs to take responsibility for this and take responsibility for her own campaign and that means stepping up to the plate and saying, ‘we got it wrong’ and doing something to fix it. Saying she got it wrong isn’t good enough, she’s got to fix it and the only way to fix it is to distribute corrective information to the same 100,000 people that she sent this information to in the first place.
DAVID BEVAN: You say that under state law she’d be required to do this. Under federal law is there any provision that can require an MP or a candidate who puts out misleading material…
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: David, there’s not unfortunately and it’s something I think we need to look at and I’ll certainly be proposing that the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters has a look at this incident after the election. But Kate should do the right thing, and the right thing is firstly not to send misleading information to your electorate in the first place, but if she has and it was an honest mistake then she should send out corrective information. If she doesn’t send out the corrective information, you’ve got to question whether it was an honest mistake in the first place.
MATTHEW ABRAHAM: Simon Birmingham, thank you.