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Libs eyed raid on party funds to match ad spend

A dejected Liberal support as the results rolled in. Picture: Justin Benson-Cooper/The Sunday Times
A dejected Liberal support as the results rolled in. Picture: Justin Benson-Cooper/The Sunday Times

The WA Liberal Party was so short of election campaign funds that MPs floated the idea of raiding normally protected corporate holdings or even borrowing cash to fight against the onslaught of WA Labor and union advertising.

WA Liberals State president Norman Moore confirmed that pleas were made for the party to draw funds from its corporate vehicle — the Liberal Party of Australia Pty Ltd (WA division) — which is thought to hold about $8 million in property and blue-chip shares.

But the idea was shot down, with the party’s State executive ruling the emergency funds were for “the ultimate rainy day”.

Mr Moore said he and other members of the executive said the party could only spend what it generated in donations and through fundraising.

Party figures warned of what happened in the early 2000s, when the Liberals were forced to borrow money to remain solvent.

It is understood Liberals believed they were about $1 million short in campaign funds and were outspent on advertising by the unions and Labor by a ratio of about $5 to $1.

Outgoing Minister Joe Francis has made a scathing attack on the Liberal Party’s bad campaign, broken promises and the leadership.

Liberals say finances are tight and the party is bracing for a large loss in public funding that will come as a result of its poor primary vote at the weekend.

Under reimbursement of expenditure rules, the major parties get $1.86 for each first-preference vote.

Both Liberal and Labor eyebrows have been raised at the massive spend by the Australian Nursing Federation of WA, which is thought to have paid out almost $400,000 during the campaign for blanket radio and newspaper advertising — almost equal to the two major parties.

Defeated Liberal MP Peter Abetz. Picture: Nic Ellis/The West Australian
Defeated Liberal MP Peter Abetz. Picture: Nic Ellis/The West Australian

The nursing federation ran a campaign calling for voters to put the major parties last behind minor parties which supported a push for better nurse-to-patient ratios.

Figures behind the mining industry’s successful campaign against Nationals leader Brendon Grylls and his proposed iron ore tax told how they concentrated their advertising spend on free-to-air television and newspapers, rather than social media.

Strategists said that despite the hype around social media, traditional forms of media remained the most powerful.

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