Victorian Labor spent more than $115,000 creating a ‘Matthew Guy’ Facebook page to launch non-stop personal attack ads on his election rival.
The Facebook Page, which was set up under the title ‘Matthew Guy – The Liberal Cuts Guy’ was mysteriously deleted just six days before election day.
It’s the latest questionable tactic in a campaign that has turned decidedly nasty, with an independent candidate being investigated for making a ‘threatening’ statement about Daniel Andrews and the premier accusing the Liberals of preferencing ‘Nazis’.
Victorian Labor is spending hundreds of thousands on Facebook ads attacking Liberal leader Matthew Guy and even set up a page under his name to push them
‘The Liberals Cuts Guy’ page was set up on October 31 and by last Wednesday had spent $115,893 to boost 1,146 posts, which were repeats of the same 19 ads, all targeting Mr Guy and accused him of planning to cut government spending.
The page and the ads all carried small Labor electoral authorisation messages.
A website was also created to expand on the negative ad messages under the address thecutsguy.com.
The Guardian reported that neither Victorian Labor nor Facebook explained the Facebook page’s sudden disappearance.
Labor’s election campaign has become very personal with relentless attacks on Mr Guy
Only Victorian Labor’s main page spent more on Facebook than the ‘Cuts Guy’ attack page in the past 30 days, splashing out $237,055.
On just those two Facebook pages Victorian Labor spent $393,849 in a month, compared to about $118,000 by the Liberals on the social media site.
Mr Andrews turned social media into one of his primary communication tools and the million followers his Facebook page boasts easily dwarfs Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s following of 324,000.
However, there have been questions over how much public money is used to promote Mr Andrews’ social media presence, with figures showing more than $1 million was spent doing so since he took office in 2014.
Premier Dan Andrews (here pictured left with wife Cath Andrews) has turned social media into a potent political weapon but there are questions around how much taxpayer money is used
The Andrews Government refused to say how many people were in the premier’s social media and communication team but he has the largest support staff of any Australian leader.
Mr Andrews has 90 staff working in his personal office, which is more than the prime minister.
However, Freedom of Information requests by the state opposition put the premier’s number of personal staff at 286 people, with a wage bill of $50 million before the Covid pandemic.
The Victorian Labor Government is one of Australia’s biggest advertisers across all forms of media.
Nielsen figures revealed it was only outspent by the Commonwealth for the first half of 2022 and it ran more ads than corporate giants Harvey Norman, Wesfarmers, Nine Entertainment, McDonald’s and Telstra.
Critics accused Mr Andrews of avoiding one-on-one interviews in favour of controlling his messaging through paid and social media.
Melbourne morning talkback king Neil Mitchell said he had not spoken to Mr Andrews since 2017, when the premier was displeased with how an interview went.
‘I’ve made a few critical comments after that and never was he seen again and never will he be seen again,’ he said.
‘I don’t think he’ll ever forgive me.’
Mitchell also viewed the current campaign with some despair, lamenting that ‘Victoria is becoming a nasty place’.
Independent MP Catherine Cumming tells a crowd outside Melbourne’s Flinders St station that she would like turn Mr Andrews into ‘red mist’ a comment that sees her under police investigation
Independent MP Catherine Cumming, who is running this time around for the Angry Victorians Party, is under investigation for telling a crowd she wanted to turn Mr Andrews into ‘red mist’, a slang term used by the military for obliterating a person.
Ms Cumming said she joined Angry Victorians ‘for one reason’ which was to ‘make Daniel Andrews turn into red mist’.
‘In the army we would call it pink mist, but I want him into red mist…
‘Give anyone here in the army a job to blow someone up and they will.’
On Saturday Mr Andrews accused the Liberals of giving preferences to ‘Nazis, racists and bigots’.
However, stating that he didn’t want to ‘give airtime’ to the parties he was talking about, he refused to name who the alleged Nazis were.