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05 November 2014

Union to defy order to remove Campbell Newman footage from ad

Together Queensland says it has not breached parliamentary rules, as clerk Neil Laurie tells it to stop using footage

A new union advertisement featuring footage of the premier of Queensland, Campbell Newman, in parliament is in breach of the rules, the state parliamentary clerk has said. Photograph: Daniel Munoz/AAP A union has been warned to remove footage of the Queensland premier, Campbell Newman, addressing parliament from a TV advertisement or risk being charged with contempt.

A parliamentary official has told Together Queensland that the advertisement, which contains a five-second grab of Newman, appears to breach parliamentary rules prohibiting use of the official parliamentary video feed for “party political advertising, satire or ridicule”.

But the union is defiant. Its state secretary, Alex Scott, told Guardian Australia that the “fair pay for all” commercial would continue to run during prime time on commercial stations all week.

The ad is intended to highlight what the union says are Newman’s broken promises to public servants on job cuts, and the union’s campaign for a better pay offer.

As part of a campaign that most recently included a bid to have Newman investigated for allegedly lying to parliament, the commercial features the premier saying: “There are 20,000 public servants more than this state can afford.”

Newman said before the 2012 state election any cuts to the public service would be by natural attrition, but subsequently announced significant job losses.

Scott said the same content was aired two years ago and it was “certainly unusual that [what] wasn’t a problem then is suddenly a problem”.

The clerk of the parliament, Neil Laurie, wrote to Scott urging him “to take immediate action to remove the footage from the advertisement” on Tuesday, two days after it was first aired.

“The use of the footage in the Together union’s advertisement appears to be a prima facie breach of the conditions of use and may, therefore, be a contempt,” Laurie warned in the letter.

The clerk wrote that laws around use of the official feed “make it clear that broadcast material must only be used for the purposes of fair and accurate reports of proceedings and must not in any circumstances be used for, amongst other things, party political advertising, satire or ridicule”.

Scott said the union thought differently and had no plans to recut the ad, which was booked to run during 6pm news bulletins on channels Nine and Seven for the rest of the week.

“It’s clearly not satire or ridicule, it’s not party political, it’s about a wages campaign,” he said. “We want to change the premier’s mind rather than change how people vote.

The LNP itself had to cut parliamentary footage from its ads under the same rules during the 2012 election campaign.

Scott said if parliamentary officials wished to pursue the matter, the union would probably challenge any moves through parliament’s ethics committee.

The union has launched a petition calling for that committee to investigate Newman for his comments to parliament by saying the government had met or exceeded inflation in public service wage rises and offers.

Scott said: “We think that should be their priority but if they want to try and take me to the ethics committee to have that argument, we’re more than comfortable that we haven’t done anything wrong.