Kevin Rudd's claims on political ads have been rated false.
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Kevin Rudd feels under attack. He has told the Channel 7 Sunrise: "Our opponents are outspending us in this campaign 10 to one on negative ads."
He is in good company. The other side thinks Labor is outspending it in negative ads.
Both can't be right, and it would be surprising if the ratio was 10 to one.
The best estimate suggests it's Labor that's ahead.
It covers television, radio and print advertising in the fortnight between August 5 and August 21 in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.
According to the advertising monitoring company ebiquity, the Labor Party spent $1.75 million in the fortnight compared to the Liberal Party with $1.53 million.
The Liberal Party somehow got more out of its smaller spend and placed 1031 advertisements compared to Labor's 912. Together those two parties account for almost 54 per cent of the total election advertisements.
The Liberal Party isn't outspending by 10 to one. So far this campaign, it's behind in dollars spent.
And if you assume the union movement's advertising supports Labor, the share of spending for Labor goes from 28 per cent to 34 per cent, eclipsing the Liberal's 24 per cent.
So far in the campaign it is the the claims about spending that more accord with reality. Tony Abbott told a press conference on August 21: "The experts looking at the ads say that Labor is substantially outspending us and then there is the unions with the $12 million war chest about to come into play."
Liberal MP Kelly O'Dywer told Fairfax TV two days earlier: "The union bosses and the labour movement that like to outspend us, you know, two to one."
Two to one is an exaggeration.
And there's something that more than evens the score.
Two big lobby groups have been spending - the Australian Salary Packaging Industry Association and the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association.
Taken together with spending by the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce and the Liberal Party (there is no National Party spending in the city) the business side of politics has been slightly outspending the Labor side, made up of the party, the ACTU and a number of unions. The Labor side accounts for 48 per cent of spending, the business side 52 per cent.
There have also been small and roughly offsetting amounts of spending by the Greens and the Palmer United Party.
Which ads have been the most negative?
Ebiquity says the Liberal Party's biggest campaign has been the positive 'Our Plan' campaign. It's second biggest has been the negative "Trail of Disaster".
Labor's biggest campaign has been the negative: "If Tony Abbott wins, you lose," followed by the positive "A New Way".
Does it stack up?
It is too early to say which party or interest group will end up spending the most.
Aaron Rigby, insight director at ebiquity, says you only have to look at the last election to get an idea about what could be ahead.
Leading into the 2010 election Labor fielded 4294 advertisements and the Liberals 3892.
An astonishing 87 per cent of them were in the last three weeks.
"The Australian public has seen nothing yet," he says.
The available numbers do not support Mr Rudd's claim that the Coalition is outspending Labor 10 to one on negative ads.
Labor is ahead on spending, the Liberal Party ahead on the number of advertisements. The balance of the Coalition's ads – so far – is more positive than Labor's.
A PolitiFact rating of ''false'' applies where a statement is not accurate.
PolitiFact finds Rudd's claim "false"
Details at www.politifact.com.au
Fairfax is partnering with the Pulitzer-prize winning service PolitiFact during the election campaign. Its Australian arm politifact.com.au uses the same rigorous methodology as its US parent to rate the accuracy of claims by elected officials and other influential people in the Australian political debate.
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