Bendigo flyer raises ire of refugee group

A FLYER claiming $6.6 billion of federal taxpayer money has been “wasted on illegal boat arrival cost blow-outs” is scurrilous and deceptive, according to Rural Australians for Refugees Bendigo secretary Sue Nuttall.

The Liberal Party today confirmed they had issued the flyer, which doesn’t contain any mention of the party, in Bendigo.

The Australian Electoral Commission said flyers needed the name and address of the person who had authorised them, but didn't need to reveal the party. 

Ms Nuttall said the flyer could have accurate information, but it appeared to have been misrepresented.

“It really is quite a scurrilous piece of information; it doesn’t take into account the whole picture,” she said.

“They’re using something that will raise the ire of people who think their monies are being misspent without realising the whole situation.

“The actual statistics are probably right, just falsely misrepresented.”

Ms Nuttall said the flyer didn't mention that only a small portion of the world's refugees came to Australia, and said many arrived by plane, not boat.

The flyer says 546 illegal boats had arrived in Australia from 2008-12.

“$6.6 billion of your taxes wasted on illegal boat arrival cost blow-outs,” it reads.

“That’s money that should have gone to improving hospitals, schools and roads.”

The flyer contains a line saying it had been authorised by "D. Mantach", who works for the Liberal Party, but doesn't name the party. 

Labor candidate for Bendigo Lisa Chesters said she wanted to avoid running a campaign based on "nasty, wedge politics". 

"They're trying to hide  behind the fact they’re being nasty and their trying to con the electorate, distract the electorate from what the real issues are," she said. 

"It's quite cowardly."

Senator Michael Ronaldson said Bendigo had been targeted by the flyers due to Ms Chesters' stance on asylum seekers.

"There was a quite remarkable comment from the Labor Party candidate that we should return to onshore processing, which was completely out of step with even her own party's policy," he said.  

"It would lead to even greater cost blowouts.

"Every illegal boat is costing about $12.8 million."

Mr Ronaldson said that money spent on boat arrivals should have been spent on hospitals, schools and roads. 

Comment is being sought from local Liberal candidate Greg Bickley. 

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