THE LIBERAL Party won’t say who created a flyer described by an asylum seeker advocate as a “scurrilous piece of information”.
Flyers attacking wasted federal taxes due to “illegal boat arrival cost blow-outs” have appeared in letterboxes in Bendigo.
Liberal senator Michael Ronaldson, who had an image of the flyer in a newsletter this month, said Bendigo had been targeted because of Labor candidate Lisa Chesters’ support of on-shore processing.
But he wouldn’t say if he was behind the flyer or if Liberal candidate Greg Bickley had given input, and the flyer doesn’t mention the party.
“This brochure highlights the extraordinary amount of money that has now been wasted as a result of the Labor Government’s failed border protection policies,” he said. “The cost of this failed policy to date is over $6.6 billion dollars... money that should have gone to improving Bendigo and district hospitals, schools, and roads.”
Mr Bickley said the Liberal Party had authorised it, but wouldn’t say who in the party had created it, if he was involved, or how many had been distributed.
“I totally support it,” he said. “It’s representing the facts... there have been almost 17,000 arrivals in 2012 alone because we totally do not have control of our borders.”
Rural Australians for Refugees Bendigo secretary Sue Nuttall said the flyer didn’t take into account “the whole picture”.
“They’re using something that will raise the ire of people who think their monies are being misspent without realising the whole situation,” she said.
Ms Nuttal said Australia only received a small portion of the world’s asylum seeker population and said the arrivals were “less than one quarter of a good MCG crowd”.
Ms Chesters said the flyer was an example of “nasty, wedge politics”.
“They’re trying to distract the electorate from what the real issues are,” she said.
“It’s quite cowardly. It’s not the type of campaign I want to run. People in Bendigo have a right to be disappointed; we expect better.”
The Australian Electoral Commission said printed material needed the name and address of the person who had authorised it, but didn’t need to reveal the political party.