Unions ACT launches its election advertising campaign on Saturday, with an ad to run across prime-time television, facebook and other social media and radio for the next two months, backing Labor's re-election bid.
The 30-second union-funded ad features long-time nurse Jude Dodd, standing in a friend's kitchen and asking, "What jobs will they cut next? Nurses? Public servants? Teachers? I just feel the Canberra Liberals are not being upfront with us."
The advertisement follows the claim this week from Chief Minister Andrew Barr that the Liberals would cut 2000 jobs from the public service, a claim that relies on faulty calculations and assumes the Liberals will be trying to fund promises they have not made.
At the last election, in 2012, just two unions spent money on Labor's re-election bid. The construction union spent $26,000 on broadcast ads and the Community and Public Sector Union spent $27,000 on broadcast ads and $20,000 on other materials.
In 2012 unions and others had a spending limit of $60,000 each and they were not allowed to act in concert on one campaign. But a law change in 2014 removed the ban on acting in concert, and now each union is free to spend up to the limit – now $40,000 each – and to combine their money.
Unions ACT secretary Alex White said 219 slots had been booked on WIN and 7Prime in August and September, including during Sunrise and in prime-time shows such as The Bachelor, The Project and Seven News. The campaign was costing $60,000. In addition, the advertisement would air on 2CC and Canberra FM radio and on social media and YouTube.
Unions ACT's entire $40,000 spend was going to the advertisement and all 24 unions affiliated with the peak group would contribute. The spend of each union would be disclosed within 60 days after polling day, as required under law, he said. If each of the unions and the peak group spent the maximum $40,000 they would contribute a combined $1 million to Labor's election bid, adding to the $1 million that Labor can spend itself (25 candidates times $40,000 each).
But Mr White said while he expected all affiliates of Unions ACT to contribute to the campaign, some of the smaller unions would not spend as much as $40,000.
Mr White said Jude Dodd recently retired from the Canberra Hospital after 39 years as a nurse.
The unions were focusing on a single advertisement with a simple message to ensure everyone saw the ad and because the message had been proved effective in testing on members.
"We're not going to have multiple messages when we know that this one works," he said. "The question we want people to ask is how can you trust the Liberals with any of the promises they make? And this question makes people ask that."
He insisted the Liberals had a track record in other state elections of promising no job cuts in the public service, then cutting jobs in their first budgets.
Unions ACT has also co-opted nurses and other workers into its doorknocking campaign, in which it is targeting key swinging voters and inviting them to sign pledges.