Premier’s wind energy statement a hoax

CAN you spot the difference?

One of the media releases in the picture above is from the office of Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu. The other is a fake.

Environmental group Friends of the Earth distributed the hoax release (on the right) to journalists this morning.

Designed to look like an official release from the government’s media unit, the release included fake quotes from Mr Baillieu announcing a $552 million adjustment package for Victoria’s wind energy sector.

“One year ago today my government made good on our election promise to stop the Victorian wind industry in its tracks,” the Premier was alleged to have said in the fake release.

“Already more than $887 million worth of developments have already be (sic) stalled or lost.”

The release outlined millions of dollars in spending for local communities and businesses affected by the decision.

In a small print at the bottom of the release, a disclaimer called the information a “parody”.

“This media release has been produced by Friends of the Earth Melbourne and uses parody and satire to comment on the public functions of Premier Baillieu,” it said.

“It does not contain genuine quotations from Premier Baillieu nor iterations of Victorian Government policy.”

Friends of the Earth campaign coordinator Cam Walker defended the release which he said was a stunt to generate publicity.

“I don’t believe it has backfired,” he said.

“We received legal advice that if we included a disclaimer at the bottom of the release we were entirely safe, so we decided to do that to draw attention to the loss of jobs and opportunity in Victoria’s wind industry over the past year.”

Mr Walker said a government transition package was urgently required for the wind industry.

“I have received a large number of responses from people who laughed about the release, including journalists and other stakeholders who agree we need an assistance package,” he said.

A spokesperson for the government was unimpressed.

One is real, one is a fake. Can you tell which? PICTURE: ANDREW RAMADGE

“The Friends of the Earth are as misleading as their press release,” the spokesperson said.

RMIT University journalism academicAlex Wake said producing fake press releases was “despicable”.

“Parody and satire are really important things in society, but they havevery little place in the news and it is not appropriate to mimic media releasesin this way,” Ms Wake said.

“Journalists should absolutely be looking at things very carefully butunfortunately too many of them are time poor and working in badly resourcednewsrooms, so to try and make their job any harder is despicable.”

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