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Rudd and Wong are driving a truck through the new advertising guidelines.

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Senator the Hon Michael Ronaldson Shadow Special Minister of State

“Penny Wong and Kevin Rudd are driving a truck through the new government advertising guidelines,” said Senator Michael Ronaldson, Shadow Special Minister of State.

“Revelations in today’s edition of The Australian that Penny Wong has breached her own previously articulated criteria for government advertising is more proof that underneath all their feel good rhetoric, the Rudd Labor Government are just common, garden variety hypocrites.

“In opposition, Senator Penny Wong was one of the most vocal critics of the then Howard Government over government advertising, taking one cheap political shot after another. In tandem with Kevin Rudd, they alluded to a new era of almost no government advertising if they won the election.

“But Penny Wong and Kevin Rudd are now damned by their own words.

“On 21 June 2007, Senator Wong claimed the fact that government advertisements appeared so soon after an announcement by the then Prime Minister John Howard, was evidence that the advertisements were party political:

“The extent to which this has been politicised by this government is demonstrated by the newspaper advertisements that were placed in all the national and metropolitan dailies on the Friday after the Prime Minister made his announcement about the fake fairness test.”

“By this measure, Penny Wong fails her own criteria. Within four days of Kevin Rudd and Penny Wong releasing the Green Paper, a comprehensive government advertising program hit the airwaves.

“Kevin Rudd and Penny Wong have also failed to disclose how much this advertising campaign will cost despite being strong critics of the previous government for not pre-releasing costs of the media spend.”

“On Wednesday 10 October 2007, Senator Wong put out a press release attacking John Howard for not pre-releasing the cost of government advertising before it was required to be disclosed. But less than 12 months later, Penny Wong is withholding the same information from the media.

“The fact is, it is standard operating procedure for a Government department to provide an advertising budget to the Minister. It beggars belief that Penny Wong and Kevin Rudd don’t know how much is being spent and what is forecasted.

“The threshold question on whether this is a party political exercise is whether or not these advertisements will give voters a more positive assessment of the Rudd Labor Government.

“These latest advertisements are designed to do exactly that. These taxpayer funded advertisements are all about making Kevin Rudd look like he is doing something because Labor’s pollster Hawker Britton/UMR Research are clearly telling him that Australians think he is all talk and no action.

“There are some questions which Penny Wong and Kevin Rudd need to answer.

1. How much has the department allocated in its budget for this advertising campaign? How much of this has been set aside for research and polling?

2. Did Cabinet consider the advertising budget appropriation?

3. When was the tender put out for this advertising campaign?

4. Were these advertisements focus group tested by the department and did they use Kevin Rudd’s pollsters of choice Hawker Britton/UMR Research?

5. If these advertisements were focus group tested, did the pollsters brief Kevin Rudd, David Epstein and Tim Gartrell or was any data provided to them?

6. Which advertising agency won this contract?

7. Which Minister or internal government committee approved the campaign, its content and screening dates?

8. Has the media buy been concentrated on the geo-demographics where Kevin Rudd’s vote is softest? That is, are these advertisements being broadcast in timeslots most watched by geo-demographics where Tim Gartrell and Hawker Britton have told Kevin Rudd that his vote is falling?

“For all their triumphant fanfare about a code and a new era in openness and transparency, this advertising campaign doesn’t pass the sniff test,” said Senator Michael Ronaldson, Shadow Special Minister of State.