The Western Australia Government is facing a new outrage over the use of a Transperth bus as an Ad bus for promoting its new infrastructure projects. The controversy follows the opposition obtaining documents under the Freedom of Information to negate the claims made by the Western Australia government.
The documents confirmed that the bus was indeed pulled out of a regular service fleet and was not to be retired, as claimed by the government. The Western Australia Government is led by Premier Colin Barnett. Opposition Transport spokeswoman Rita Saffioti alleged that Transport Minister Dean Nalder tried to mislead the public, reports ABC News.
“This bus would be delivering vital bus services, now it’s been turned into a spin bus purely for Government propaganda These documents show the Minister misled the public and the Parliament. He tried to say this bus wasn’t being used for public transport services, it clearly shows it was,” she said.
According to the Opposition parties, the taxpayer-funded bus can no longer be used as a passenger bus as it has been converted into a “spin bus” by the government. The bus issue snowballed into a political ruckus after the Government started using the Ad bus as a “mobile promotional vehicle” to tout its achievements. The bus became a regular fixture in many events to promote the West Australian government’s big ticket projects such as Elizabeth Quay.
The Opposition said the Mercedes bus was taken out of the the Transperth fleet after a request from the Department of Premier and Cabinet. In October 2015, the Government unveiled a slew of promotional campaigns and signed an exclusive contract with SevenWest Media. That contract of AU$120,000 entailed running events wherever the Ad bus appeared. Media queries to bureaucrats also confirmed that the bus can no longer be used in passenger service.
“Obviously the bus cannot be used for other duties now that it has been kitted out with all of the Get the Bigger Picture stuff inside,” a Public Transport Authority (PTA) staffer wrote. It also added that PTA will pay insurance, maintenance and licensing costs and the bus will be stabled at a PTA depot.
Nalder issued a statement and denied the charge that he misled the Parliament. The Transport Minister said while he was replying to Parliament the bus concerned was not in regular service.
Meanwhile, recent opinion poll results in Western Australia have put Labor party ahead of the ruling Government. According to State Opposition Leader Mark McGowan, people are looking for a change in the March election. The poll showed that only 33 percent of voters approved Premier Colin Barnett’s performance and 47 percent had more faith in McGowan.