Smoked out: Cannabis party faces Facebook ‘censorship’
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You’d think a political operation would have to be fairly extreme to have its ads rejected by Facebook, the social networking giant which, let’s face it, has never been too choosy about such things.
So the mild-mannered men and women of Victoria’s Legalise Cannabis Party, which had two candidates elected to state parliament’s upper house last year, were left perplexed and confused – and not because of the bongs – when Facebook’s parent company, Meta, refused to publish the party’s ads.
Legalise Cannabis MPs David Ettershank and Rachel Payne.Credit: Joe Armao
After getting no joy out of Meta, MP Rachel Payne even appealed to the Victorian Electoral Commission to intervene in what the party alleges is a blatant case of censorship of political expression.
“My colleagues and myself are being unfairly treated and discriminated against through Meta’s refusal to allow us to advertise, post stories about our party [and] even hiding our pages so that people cannot find us through searches,” Payne pleaded.
The commission politely declined to get involved, saying this wasn’t its jurisdiction, it had no authority over “the policies, procedures, or algorithms of social media platforms or companies” and it couldn’t advocate for a political party.
We approached Meta’s comms people, several times actually, but we got no joy out of them either. So we all might just have to keep an eye on the feeds.
When facing insurmountable odds, sometimes you need your old soldiers, and in that respect the formerly embattled Camberwell Returned & Services League (RSL) sub-branch brings some big guns to the fight.
Former Liberal premiers Ted Baillieu and Jeff Kennett are helping lead the sub-branch back from the brink of extinction after it slipped into administration and looked like it was ready for the Last Post.
This is the first time any Victorian sub-branch has had two former state leaders on its board, and they’re not just there for the parade ground.
Former Liberal premier Jeff Kennett.Credit: David Caird
Kennett, an army platoon commander in his national service days, recently deployed to engage in a rearguard action against the formidable State Revenue Office, which had hit the sub-branch with a $130,000 bill for several years’ unpaid land tax on a property it owns in Camberwell Road.
The site is leased to a car wash business on a commercial basis, so pleading a charitable exemption – as a lot of RSLs are granted for their fundraising activities, including pokies – was tricky.
Kennett charged into Spring Street to get to grips with the tax men and women in what turned out to be quite a good-natured encounter.
“They were very polite and very calm and very accommodating,” the former Second Lieutenant Kennett reported to CBD. “I was too, of course.” Of course.
But the charm offensive didn’t win the day. The tax will have to be paid, although the former premier was able to wring some concessions on the interest owed on the back taxes.
Kennett said the club was facing an annual bill of up to $40,000 with the state Labor government’s increases to land tax beginning to bite.
Things are looking more promising for the broader fight for the Camberwell sub-branch’s survival, though, after a merger with the Tramways/East Melbourne sub-branch to form the Camberwell Pompey Elliott Sub-branch. Kennett is upbeat about the club’s prospects. But the car wash may, in time, have to be counted among the fallen …
“We’re just one of many organisations or families or businesses for whom land tax really is causing many people to think whether they can retain the buildings they’ve got,” Kennett told us.
We asked the state government if it wanted to talk any of that over, but it declined to take the field.
Qantas CEO Vanessa Hudson.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen
We brought the exciting news last week that Qantas’ staff song-and-dance troupe, the Qantas Pathfinder Revue, would be giving the recent changing of the guard at the national carrier the musical treatment for a few performances of a show called Qaronation at the end of the month.
Credit: Jozsef Benke
Now, we’re happy to confirm, in a development that brought a puzzling amount of glee to insiders, that the carrier’s new chief executive, Vanessa Hudson, will be catching one of the performances.
This may seem an entirely run-of-the-mill occurrence, but it’s seen as a small sign that Hudson’s assurances to Qantas staff that desperately needed change is coming are genuine.
Over its 56 years, different bosses have taken different attitudes to the annual show, which has a tradition of gently sending up the airline’s higher-ups.
James Strong, who commanded the Flying Kangaroo’s flight deck in the 1990s and early noughties, was a big fan. More recently, Alan Joyce’s attendance was sporadic at best.
Which is a shame, because we’re told that last year’s performance, a Halloween-themed effort called We’re Back , was a cracker.
Joyce, perhaps figuring one horror show at the airline was plenty, didn’t rock up.
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