Singing gnome video costs taxpayers $270k
THE Agriculture Department spent $270,000 in taxpayer funds for videos featuring a singing garden gnome and a character called "dirtgirl" to give advice such as telling people to throw fruit in a bin.
The department, which is meant to keep Australia safe from pests and infections which could destroy our agricultural sector, spent the cash for seven promotional videos featuring characters from the children's television program Get Grubby TV.
One of the videos features dirtgirl and Costa on location in the Torres Strait Island telling people to put fresh fruit in quarantine bins on arrival to avoid fruit flies causing damage to native fruits.
News Queensland revealed that the department was going to pay Don Burke $50,000 to record videos, but cancelled the contract after sexual harassment allegations came out against him.
It also paid Getaway star Catriona Rowntree $99,000 to star in a video on biosecurity.
An Agriculture department spokeswoman confirmed mememe productions, the company behind Get Grubby TV, were engaged in June 2017 for the seven videos.
She said the characters had community appeal and an ability to convey biosecurity messaging.
"Costa and dirtgirl are well known in the Torres Strait and they have previously worked on community-based projects," she said.
The $270,000 included the costs of development, production and logistics.
Seven videos have been filmed and several are still being edited and are expected to be released early next year, while several videos including the fruit fly video were also produced.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said: "It would only take one event to ruin Australia's $60 billion agriculture industry and $270,000 to help protect it is a small investment."
Opposition agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon said there were questions over whether the videos were value for money, saying the Government had a poor track record.
"There is no issue more important to agriculture than biosecurity. If the videos come after sound research, are effective and represent value for money then that will be a good thing," he said.