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Thursday, 21 October 2010
Page: 1140


Mr McCORMACK (2:07 PM) —My question is to the Special Minister of State. I refer the minister to taxpayer funded advertisements on the government’s water policies which aired on television last night. Given the Murray-Darling Basin Authority has released ‘a guide to a draft to a plan’, under what provisions has the government approved the advertising campaign? Why have there been no ministerial announcements about the campaign? How much will the campaign cost? Where will the ads run and for how long? As for the mining tax ads, is this another national emergency or is it a political emergency?


Mr GRAY (Special Minister of State and Special Minister of State for the Public Service and Integrity) —I thank the member for his question. It goes to government advertising. As all members in this place and as people paying attention to this issue will know, government advertising in recent years from the grotesque record of over $250 million worth of advertising to support Work Choices—


Mr Pyne —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order on relevance. The minister was asked a specific question about one ad campaign, not a general question about government advertising.


The SPEAKER —There were a number of parts to the question. There were references to at least one other campaign. But I acknowledge that the Special Minister of State has not yet referred to either of those campaigns. I understand that he realises that his response needs to be directly relevant to the question.


Mr GRAY —I thank the Speaker. The grotesque levels of spending that were observed by all Australians in 2007 have been wound back substantially by the current government—in fact, more than cut in half. The question goes particularly to television advertising, which the member has seen. I do not believe that it is necessary for all advertising campaigns to be the subject of public announcements by me as the Special Minister of State. They should and do, however, go through due process. It is important that the House note that this particular advertising campaign did go through that process and was duly, properly and appropriately recommended to go forward on the basis that it was a properly constructed public information campaign to provide information at a cost which is a small fraction of the grotesque $250 million Work Choices campaign funded by members opposite.