The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (15:31): I rise to talk about political interference in bus advertising campaigns. Members would no doubt have been aware of the bus advertisements that ran late last year on the sides of Adelaide Metro buses that featured the Animals Australia campaign which highlighted the cruelty of the live export industry. Those advertisements showed a picture of a bull in distress that was taken in Mauritius, along with a slogan reading 'LIVE EXPORT it's a crime against animals'. The advertisements ran across Australia and ran until late December. They were lodged and paid for by Animals Australia as part of a nationwide campaign.
The live export industry, unsurprisingly, challenged the right of those advertisements to be on buses and took up a complaint with the body that regulates outdoor advertising and, indeed, bus advertising in this country. Last week that complaint was rejected. The Advertising Standards Board found that those ads were indeed compliant with advertising standards and were rightfully able to be shown in the outdoor advertising space. They found that those ads complied with community standards.
At the time, observant members might have been curious to know that Geoff Power, President of the farmer group Livestock SA, stated to the media, and in this ABC report that I refer to of 15 February he stated that he had lobbied the state government on behalf of producers to remove the advertisements. He said that lobbying had been somewhat successful, yet members would be aware that the advertisements were compliant, so I was curious to know why the President of Livestock SA seemed to think that the state government had some sympathies for Livestock SA's bid to pull these ads off the sides of Adelaide buses.
That is why members will be most interested, I think, as I was, to read the correspondence from Livestock SA that was sent back in August to minister Mullighan and cc'd to minister Bignell, dated 20 August but sent in an email form on 21 August 2015, authored by Deane Crabb, Chief Executive Officer of Livestock SA. It was summed up in the email to both ministers Mullighan and Bignell as follows:
I am forwarding a letter asking the Minister to stop the advertising against live exports on Adelaide Metro buses.
That letter of 20 August states:
Livestock SA is very concerned about Adelaide Metro buses carrying advertising opposing the live export of animals: the text being 'LIVE EXPORT it's a crime against animals.' The letter concludes:
Livestock SA believes the live export of cattle, sheep and goats should be supported and that support should include the removal of the inaccurate and offensive advertising from the rear of Adelaide Metro buses.
It is unsurprising that Livestock SA might write this letter, but what is surprising is the letter it received back from minister Mullighan, dated 10 November 2015. That letter was addressed to Mr Crabb, CEO of Livestock SA, and states:
DPTI further advises that while this particular campaign has run nationally and is not in breach of any standards, APN Outdoor Media acknowledged the campaign was contentious and has volunteered to remove the advertising as soon as practicable.
It was signed, 'The Hon. Stephen Mullighan MP, Minister for Transport and Infrastructure.' My questions to minister Mullighan are: on what grounds did he put that signature on that letter, advising Livestock SA that those ads that were currently running on Adelaide Metro buses, paid for and legal, that had been put there by Animals Australia? On what grounds was he able to inform Livestock SA that APN Outdoor Media, the commissioning company to run the ads, had acknowledged that the campaign was contentious and had volunteered to remove the advertising as soon as practicable?
At what point does a minister take charge of what ads can run on Adelaide Metro buses? That transport minister has interfered here politically and decided to take sides in an advertising campaign, an advertising campaign which was found by the Advertising Standards Bureau to be legal and not to breach community standards and which should have been run to its end. I believe that it did run to its end, but I think that the minister here has attempted to interfere. It is unacceptable.