JOHN Cobb’s methods have been labelled “disrespectful” by the man he defeated at the last federal election after the Calare MP spent almost half of his printing entitlement in the weeks leading up to polling day.
Bathurst councillor Dr Jess Jennings ran as the Labor candidate for Calare against Mr Cobb last September, and believes the federal member’s huge media spend effectively meant any other candidate simply could not compete in terms of marketing.
Mr Cobb spent $64,092.62 on printing and communications in August/September last year, 48.5 per cent of his annual spend of $132,206.84, according to the latest Department of Finance expenditure on entitlements report.
The report reveals the expenditure of MPs across the country on travelling, cars, office facilities and fit outs, office administration, telecommunications and family travel.
Dr Jennings said printing and communication entitlements should have been spread more evenly throughout the year.
“It makes it an extraordinarily uneven playing field,” he said.
“If I could have had even half of that budget I would have had a better face and name recognition [in Calare].”
Dr Jennings said the incumbent Mr Cobb was “just using his Parliament expendables to benefit his own agenda”.
“It’s dodgy campaigning, it’s disrespectful,” he said.
In a written statement, Mr Cobb said all printed materials he claimed were approved by the Department of Finance.
“All electioneering material is at the cost of the candidate or party they are representing - which is paid for by fundraising activities of the party and donations, not entitlement,” he said.
Dr Jennings said the funding allocation would be better spent informing the electorate across the year, rather than predominantly used at election time.
Mr Cobb said some of his printing spend in August/September went to items distributed to constituents, fees for web services, and routine office correspondence.
By comparison, Mr Cobb’s annual printing and communication spending is higher than member for Charlton Greg Combet’s spend of $117,072.81 and member for Grayndler Anthony Albanese’s $131,656.62, but pales compared to Prime Minister Tony Abbott's annual spend of $157,614.20.