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Tuesday, 4 June 2013
Page: 5241

Mr BRADBURY (LindsayAssistant Treasurer and Minister Assisting for Deregulation) (18:30): I thank the member for Bass for his questions. I acknowledge that it was a pleasure to visit his electorate recently and to talk to some local businesses about the importance of this budget and what it is delivering for people in northern Tasmania. The member asked me questions in relation to various government efficiencies. I appreciate that we are running out of time for this session, so I will begin by talking about one area that is of great interest to the member for Bass and to many members on this side—that is, government advertising, where we have been reining in some of the excesses that existed under the previous government. I know the member for Mackellar has been intimately involved in a number of these matters through the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit. I suspect, like many other members opposite, she is probably a bit of a Joe Cocker fan, back from the old days when they were 'unchaining our heart', when they were trying to lumber small businesses with the great regulatory burden of the GST chain, but the amount of money they were wasting on government advertising back in those times really was obscene.

By way of comparison, if you have a look in 2007 you see that $254 million worth of taxpayers' dollars were expended on government advertising. This is post Joe Cocker. I would be suggesting that the then government were having a Joe Cocker—$254 million! By way of comparison, in calendar year 2012, for example, $111.9 million was spent. There are areas where it is of vital importance that various legitimate forms of advertising occur, such as informing the public about their rights, entitlements and obligations; census campaigns; Defence Force recruiting; health campaigns; obesity and illicit drugs; digital switchover campaigns; areas where it is fundamentally important that we make sure the community are aware of their rights and obligations and also of the opportunities to take advantage of some of these initiatives. This is just one area. In many areas we have been trimming and pruning government expenditure: telepresence activity, reducing air travel costs and a range of things to ensure that we are extracting as much efficiency as possible from government and its operations because we know that every extra dollar we save in that regard is an extra dollar we can spend on the important investments this government is determined to make, investments in this budget which involve putting in place for the future a national disability insurance scheme, DisabilityCare, and the reforms that will build an economic platform by extending educational opportunity to all Australians, by having a decent education system which gives kids from all sorts of backgrounds and all parts of this country the opportunity to realise their potential and to make the sort of contribution to the community which they are capable of.

In relation to other areas of important savings, better management of Commonwealth ICT has saved more than $2 billion—an important area of savings. More effective management of Commonwealth property has saved $1.2 billion. I have referred of course to the dramatic reduction in advertising expenditure, which is so important. There have also been savings in air travel, a reduction in printing and publication costs and efficiencies in relation to consultancies and contractors.

The whole of Australian government air travel arrangements for 2012-13 half-year results, which were released in April—they alone show that, compared with the same period last year, the amount spent by government agencies on travel has decreased by $54 million. That is a 22 per cent reduction, down to $193 million. The volume of air travel has also decreased by 17 per cent—significant reductions, significant savings, liberating more funds for vital investments. (Time expired)