Santos sponsorship above board: Minister

THE Queensland police minister and Santos have defended a joint road safety campaign after it was heavily criticised on social media.

Two years after Santos announced sponsoring Queensland Police Service's Stay on Track Outback campaign, online activists declared it a "conflict of interest".

In 2012, and again in June this year, the police announced Santos, and rural television station Imparja, would be supporting the three non-operational police vehicles - two utes and a campervan - which visit road and camping shows to promote road safety.

Over the weekend anti-coal group Stop Brisbane Coal Trains spokesman John Gordon said on Twitter it was "a bloody disgrace" and called for all Santos logos to be removed.

A Santos representative defended the deal, comparing it to other community sponsorships the company undertakes with the Royal Flying Doctor Service and Careflight helicopters.

"Santos is proud to support a program that promotes safe driving and is saving lives in outback Australia," he said.

Mr Gordon said the cars being promotional vehicles rather than active police cars was "immaterial".

"It constitutes a gross conflict of interest by the Queensland police force to allow sponsorship from what is a highly controversial and unethical industry," Mr Gordon said.

"This is not only inappropriate but also highly insensitive. To have the logo emblazoned on the vehicles implies favouritism and/or cosy deals. We are gobsmacked at the QPS's stupidity. We reckon they are bloody idiots."

But Police Minister Jack Dempsey's office dismissed concerns.

"The Queensland Government is committed to keeping Queensland families safe on our roads and encourages sponsorship of community safety initiatives," he said.

"The Queensland Police Service's 'Stay on Track Outback' is an award winning road safety program aimed at keeping communities safer and reducing road trauma in regional Queensland.

"It has been in place since 2012 thanks to support from a number of sponsors."

- APN NEWSDESK



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