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Monday, 19 April 1999
Page: 3707

Senator FAULKNER (1:58 PM) —Of course, we have just had the spectacle in relation to the appropriation bills of the government accepting their guilt on the issue of the unconscionable $20 million advertising campaign that was conducted in the lead-up to the last election. This expenditure is totally unprecedented in the history of Australian politics. I think it is quite extraordinary that not only did such a second reading amendment find favour in the Senate—many would expect that that might be the case, given that the government does not in its own right hold a majority here—but the government, so ashamed of its own behaviour, did not even see fit to divide on this issue.

The opposition has, for many months, drawn attention to what we consider to be an absolutely flagrant abuse of taxpayers' money—an abuse of power on the part of this government in terms of this totally improper and unprecedented use of taxpayers' money. We have never seen, in the history of Australian politics, a government spend so much money in the lead-up to an election campaign. We have never seen a situation where those moneys were spent not on advertising and promoting a government program but on promoting a policy that the government intended to take to the election itself.

Progress reported.