Two Liberal party candidates for the forthcoming federal election have been accused of “plagiarising” ads from the recent successful state campaign of South Australia’s Labor premier, Peter Malinauskas.
Assistant treasurer and current member for Deakin in Melbourne, Michael Sukkar, and Liberal candidate for Boothby in Adelaide, Rachel Swift, are both alleged to have imitated the distinctive visual style and script of Malinauskas’ ad, released in January, for their federal election campaigns.
SA Labor alleged on Twitter that Sukkar had been “caught plagiarising almost word for word” Malinauskas’ ad. The tweet, posted on Thursday night, was accompanied by a video that showed approximately the first 25 seconds of each of the two ads side-by-side.
The scripts have very similar structural patterns and cadences, introducing the candidates as “a husband, a father of [two or three children]”, mentioning a sporting and a domestic hobby, before drawing attention to their roles as politicians.
In his ad, released on 18 January, Malinauskas followed this introduction with comments about his family’s influence on his work ethic.
“Here in South Australia, every generation has benefited from the one before it. My grandparents left war-torn Europe in the 40s in search of a better life for our family. And my parents worked tirelessly to teach me the value of hard work,” he said in the video, produced by Simple Advertising agency.
Sukkar’s ad, posted to Facebook on Wednesday, follows almost exactly the same script: “I believe that every generation should benefit from the one before it. My father came to Australia from Lebanon for a better life. And he and my mum worked tirelessly to teach me and my siblings the value of hard work,” Sukkar said in the video.
The script patterns were also replicated in Rachel Swift’s ad, also posted to Facebook on Wednesday.
Swift’s introduction used a very similar linguistic structure, focusing instead on her background rather than her domestic life: “Hi, I’m Rachel. I’m a health expert, a small business owner, a local and I volunteer in our community. I’m also the Liberal candidate for Boothby.
“My family has had a huge influence on me. And my family’s experiences have motivated me to make sure I’m always doing something that gives back to the community,” she said in the ad.
The visual style of all three ads used only stills, including family photographs, candid snaps and professional campaign shots, cycling through them in a Polaroid style over a white background.
Malinauskas told The Advertiser on Friday he would “prefer the Liberals back some of our policies for the future, rather than copy our ads”.
Swift did not respond to Guardian Australia’s request for comment, but was reported on Friday as saying she was “using all possible means to communicate with Boothby voters.”
Boothby is a target seat for Labor at this federal election, currently held by Liberal MP Nicolle Flint, who is retiring.
Michael Sukkar has also been approached for comment.
Under Malinauskas, the Labor party picked up a 7% swing in the March state election in South Australia, comprehensively ousting Steven Marshall’s first-term Liberal government.
Labor’s campaign focused predominantly on state issues like health and hospital capacity, with federal leader Anthony Albanese only making a handful of appearances.
The state win was nevertheless lauded by federal Labor, with the party’s national president, Wayne Swan, saying it was “a clear message that voters have had enough of Liberal governments that are out of touch with their lives”.