The Australian Press Council has considered a complaint from The Australian Greens about an assertion made in a Daily Telegraph, Sydney, article on 11 May 2011. The article, headed Political support comes at a price, was a part of the newspaper's analysis of the 2011 federal Budget. It said that the Greens party "is supposedly about protecting nature but the Greens managed to force the Government to take money away from repairing the east coast after the summer of natural disasters". It said that the money had been taken away to reinstate some programs that the Government had indicated would have had their funding reduced, including the National Rental Affordability Scheme and the Solar Flagships initiative.
The Greens complained that it was both inaccurate and unfair to say that the re-allocation of funds to these programs had come at the expense of flood relief and that it had “forced” the Government in such a way. The party sought to have the error corrected by direct contact with one of the article's co-authors.
The newspaper said that the report was accurate because negotiations between the Greens and the Government had led to a refunding of the cited programs in order to have the flood relief package passed. It said that other newspapers had reported the deal in similar terms and it cited a Greens' media release in which the party claimed credit for the refunding of the programs earlier targeted for cuts. While it would not publish a correction, it was willing to publish a letter to the editor from the Greens' Senate Leader, an offer that was declined.
The Council has concluded that there was nothing in the article that supported the assertion that money was taken away from repair of the flood damage to refund the cited programs, or that the Greens had "forced" a change. The newspaper did not provide any support for that assertion in its correspondence with the Council. The assertion was inaccurate and remains uncorrected. The complaint is therefore upheld.
The Council also considered that it was a pity that the party and the newspaper could not come to an agreement on a way of redressing their differences.