18 March 2023

Video games in Murray as candidates clash over live stream

| Chris Roe
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Murray candidates Peta Betts and Greg Adamson

Murray candidates Peta Betts and Greg Adamson clashed over the live-streaming of a candidates debate. Photo: Facebook.

The Nationals candidate for the seat of Murray, Peta Betts, has responded to reports that a candidate “stormed out” of Wednesday’s forum hosted by the Deniliquin Business Chamber over her refusal to allow the event to be live-streamed.

In short, it seems the Nationals objected to Helen Dalton’s staff deploying a camera without permission and Independent Greg Adamson declared this undemocratic and left the event.

“Let’s set the record straight – live-streaming a candidate forum is fine by me (in fact, it helps our democracy by allowing more people to watch) but fudged footage is not!” Ms Betts declared on social media.

“What was attempted at the forum was to record the debate for future use – by whom we don’t know, and for what purpose we don’t know.

“We can only assume the footage was to be edited and included in campaign material for someone’s own political, personal and private purposes. In other words – the complete opposite of transparency and accuracy.”

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Wednesday’s event saw five of the 10 candidates gather at the Coach House, including Ms Dalton, Ms Betts, Mr Adamson, Kevin Farrell (Public Education Party) and David Landini (Independent).

Mr Adamson explained that he had been looking forward to the event that included questions without notice from the community.

“I felt it was a great opportunity to really be quizzed over the issues that matter to the heart and soul of the region,” he said.

“Helen Dalton had organised for her staff to record and broadcast it, as she’s done before, and all of us except Peta Betts were quite keen for it to be broadcast.”

He said the previous live streams had reached large numbers of voters and that it was important that those unable to travel would have the chance to participate.

“By not having a broadcast and having it closed to a room of 30 people, most of whom were political staffers or National Party members, I thought it was important to make the point that our democracy and the institutions that support our democracy, like the Business Chamber, were being eroded,” he explained.

“We are there to be scrutinised.”

Ms Betts was not available on Thursday but said in her Facebook post that it was a “pity” that Mr Adamson chose to exit the debate and she asked for confirmation of exactly who had wanted to film and why.

“Those who attended in person had the benefit of seeing candidates ‘in the flesh’ and hearing what they had to say on important issues, without it being filtered and fiddled with by any candidates,” she wrote.

“It is usual practice for people to be informed if they are being live-streamed prior to an event or asked permission if being filmed.

“This was not the case last night and I was only made aware after previous forums that live-streaming/filming may have occurred on those occasions.”

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Ms Dalton rejected Ms Betts’ suggestion that her team was videoing the event to create “fudged footage” and said that she would have known that if she had attended previous forums.

Ms Betts had been unable to attend a recent Griffith event due to illness.

“It was a live stream. We’ve done the previous two as best we could, and it’s to let people watch at home,” she said.

“I don’t understand Peta Betts, if she wants to be in public life, you have to be accountable to the public, so if she’s not up for it, then get out of it.

“This is the world we live in now, does she want us to go back to the Dark Ages?”

Despite the controversy, Ms Betts congratulated the organisers on the event and said that the Deniliquin Business Chamber had done their own filming that would soon be made available.

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