Turnbull’s tax video caught using ‘fake’ pensioners

Is it wrong for politicians to mislead voters and the Australian public with videos that feature dishonest people? Source: Getty and Facebook.com/MalcolmTurnbull

Former MP Rob Oakeshott has criticised Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for sharing a video that is potentially misleading to voters.

Oakeshott, who was once a member for Lyne, called out the Coalition’s video for featuring pensioners who “are not genuinely needy”. The video was the government’s response to the Labor Party’s proposed tax on superannuation income.

Sharing the clip on his Twitter page, Turnbull said he had listened to the concerns of those most worried.

“Australians right across the country are worried about Labor’s new tax on their savings,” he wrote. “Yesterday, I sat down with a group of retirees, some on the pension, to hear first hand their concerns.”

It was a similar message when the clip was shared on his Facebook page.

“These are the Australians who will be hit by Labor’s tax on retirees and savings,” he said. “They have saved all their lives. They’ve invested in Australian shares. They have done the right thing to plan for their future.”

He added that retirees shouldn’t be robbed of their tax refunds. “You deserve to retire with dignity, you shouldn’t be robbed of your tax refunds because of another new Labor tax grab,” he said.

One retiree, Odette Millard, appeared in the clip and questioned how retirees, pensioners and people who are simply planning their future could be taxed when they had such little wiggle room left in their working life. Another man, Gordon Finlay, labelled the tax as a “cynical cash grab”, while others expressed their concerns about how the tax would impact them.

While the video aimed to tug at the heartstrings of voters Oakeshott was quick to criticise the video and accused the PM of using fake pensioners.

“Prime Minister, I know individuals personally in your video,” he wrote on Twitter. “Are you honestly saying well known, respected, former businessmen in Port Macquarie are your examples of those ‘Most in need’ in Australia?”

One social media user asked Oakeshott to spill gossip on the rich men featured in the clip, to which he replied: “No goss. Just successful, retired, and respected. Which made it weird they were used by the PM/local MP as examples. I was very surprised.”

Oakeshott even offered Turnbull to return to Port Macquarie to reshoot the campaign.

“Prime Minister, an open invitation for you to come back 2 Port Macquarie,” he said. “To the same room. Filled with more than 10 private guests. Standing room only. Combined Pensioners. Independent Retirees. U3A. The works. I’ll shout beer. You listen and engage. Old school.”

An article by The Guardian identified Willie Millard, who appeared in the clip, as a former public relations manager for Telecom. They also revealed that another man, Finlay, used to work as a successful local accountant.

Turnbull is yet to respond to Oakeshott’s claims the video is misleading. It’s not the first time politicians have mislead voters with videos. In 2016, the Liberal Party came under fire for hiring a fake tradesman to appear in one of their election campaigns.

That clip featured Sydney metalworker Andrew MacRae who later revealed that he got picked for the ad because he did work for the advertising agency that was putting the ad together. The public called out the clip for MacRae’s expensive watch and the fact that it was shoot at a workplace that he’s never worked at before. 

What do you think? Is the video misleading? Should they have used real hard done by pensioners? 

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