Police have confirmed they are investigating the source of thousands of text messages sent to voters on election day.
The messages, first reported by news.com.au, were sent from an account claiming to be Medicare.
“Mr Turnbull’s plans to privatise Medicare will take us down the road of no return,” the texts read.
“Time is running out to save Medicare.”
But Medicare had nothing to do with it. The government department responsible for Medicare, the Department of Human Services, as well as the Health Minister’s office, confirmed the messages were fraudulent and had not been sent by them.
Mr Turnbull used part of his speech to label the text scam an “extraordinary act of dishonesty”.
“Today, as voters went to the polls, as you would have seen in the press, there were text messages being sent to thousands of people across Australia saying that Medicare was about to be privatised by the Liberal Party,” he said.
“The SMS message came from Medicare. It said it came from Medicare. An extraordinary act of dishonesty. No doubt the police will investigate.’
Australian Federal Police told news.com.au the matter had been referred to them on Saturday for investigation.
“This matter is now being evaluated and whilst this occurs it would not be appropriate to provide further comment,” a spokeswoman said.
Labor’s Queensland branch told Fairfax it sent the text messages but did not intent to make the texts appear to have come from Medicare.
In a statement sent to news.com.au, Minister for Health Sussan Ley called the messages “desperate and deceitful” and called on Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to urgently rule out Labor or affiliated unions as being responsible.
“Australians can spot a fake when they see one and Labor’s Medi-scare campaign is the biggest fake of all,” she said.
On Saturday, a spokesman for the Labor campaign told news.com.au the party was not responsible for the bulk messages and denied knowledge of the last minute text campaign.
A spokesman for the ACTU told news.com.au it was not behind the text campaign, either.
Labor’s immigration spokesman Richard Marles appeared on Sky News on Sunday morning. He refused to answer the question directly when asked if he would condone the text campaign.
“I don’t know where that text comes from,” he said. “There is no high moral ground from which the Liberals can speak in relation to this.”