Independents’ Facebook spending falls

Last time we caught up with our like-minded independents – pro-environment, pro-integrity commission, anti-carbon, anti-moderate Liberal MPs (just call don’t them a political party!) – the climate-minded crew were outpacing the major parties in their social media ad spending by a serious margin.

Pied piper for independents.Credit:Benke

As of mid-March, federal Sydney electorate of Wentworth independent Allegra Spender had shelled out almost $70,000 on Facebook advertisements in the previous 90 days and $34,000 on ads in the month to mid-March. At the time, the independents’ spending paled in comparison to Simon Holmes a Court’s environment cheer squad (and independent candidate ATM) Climate 200, which had forked out almost $350,000 on Facebook ads in the 90 days to March 25.

But nine days into the federal election campaign, there has been a sea change. Spending data compiled by CBD on Facebook shows the majors are catching up.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese alone has spent $68,000 in the past seven days, just pipping his Australian Labor Party’s $67,000. The Federal Liberals are in third place spending $31,000 in the past week.

But the highest-spending Liberal is, yes, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who has spent $21,200 in the past week. He has even outspent his boss Prime Minister Scott Morrison on $17,600. Way to manage up, Josh.

Meanwhile, Climate 200 and its fleet of indies appear to have put the brakes on their spending. The group has spent just under $20,000 on its Facebook ads in the past week – that’s still more than ScoMo, mind. Frydenberg’s Kooyong bete noir Dr Monique Ryan spent just over $8500.

So what gives? A case of too hard, too early – or perhaps they’re just conserving (unleaded bio-) fuel for the campaign’s final weeks.


But when it comes to advertising carpet bombing, there’s no stopping Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party which continues to lead the cash-splashing charge. The UAP has topped the past week of Facebook political spending, racking up almost $90,000 of ads in the past seven days alone. The latest splurge brings the total to $180,000 in the past month and $291,000 in the past 90 days. Heck, Palmer himself has even gone further, spending another $60,000 on his own Facebook advertisements in the past 90 days.

Clive Palmer is spending up on election advertising.Credit:James Brickwood

The UAP dropped $417,000 into Mark Zuckerberg’s coffers in the first three months of the year, with Palmer himself spending a further $132,000 on his own ads.

Talk about a personal brand. But at that point, the election gun hadn’t even been fired. One consolation about being in the midst of an election campaign, at least we’re closer to the whole shed show being over.


Staff inside Opera Australia are bracing themselves for changes at the national performing arts company following explosive allegations of bullying on the set of its summer blockbuster The Phantom of the Opera. The company has said it is examining claims of unacceptable conduct on set as a “matter of urgency” but others inside the organisation believe chief executive Fiona Allan and the board, headed by former University of Melbourne vice-chancellor Glyn Davis, could take decisive action soon. Opera Australia was approached for comment on the status of the review on Tuesday.

Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.Credit:James Gourley

But the debacle doesn’t just stop with the opera company. The headlines have also made for particularly unsettling news inside Phantom composer Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group production house which co-produced this year’s Phantom bonanza on Sydney Harbour. Lloyd Webber and a team ventured out for the Phantom opening and the Cats-Man himself even made a high-profile appearance on opening night on the DJ decks at the event’s riotous after-party.

And yet in the wake of the allegations, the Really Useful Group has proved anything but, leaving questions about a toxic culture unanswered. Presumably an alleged bullying issue and a cast mutiny was the last thing the Brits expected on this year’s summer holiday.


Fergus Watts, non-executive chairman of Bastion, the marketing and reputation agency, has two big new projects.

First, he has just become chief executive of The Reach Foundation, the youth betterment charity founded by legendary AFL Dees player Jim Stynes and film director Paul Currie.

Oh and Watts and wife Jenna are expecting their third child any day now, which will increase the Watts brood to three kids all aged under three-and-a-half years old.

Watts founded Bastion aged 23 after a stint playing for AFL teams St Kilda and the Adelaide Crows. But his Reach association goes back much further: as a 15-year-old Stynes himself hauled him up in front of a crowd of about 400 school kids during one of the charity’s regular Heroes Day.

Watts has stepped down from the board of Reach to take on the role of chief executive and will remain as non-executive chair of Bastion, which recently welcomed former ABC News boss Gaven Morris as head of offshoot Bastion Transform.

“I had made the decision that I was going to get a job somewhere. I didn’t want to live the non-executive life at the age of 36,” Watts said.

The AFL-friendly agency’s board has included ex-AFL chief Andrew Demetriou.

Watts replaces Philippe Magid, the one-time executive director of Bangarra Dance Theatre, who left his role as chief executive of Reach after just one year and nine months. A short and sweet stint indeed.

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