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Howard's failed wharf 'strategy' a waste of taxpayers' money.

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The Howard Government has wasted millions of taxpayers’ dollars in consultants’ fees to devise the now-discredited strategy to break th e waterfront unions, the Convenor of Labor’s Wastewatch Committee, Senator John Faulkner, said today.


“Yesterday’s Federal Court decision that there is a case to answer that the Federal Government and Patrick’s have engaged in an unlawful conspiracy is a further indication that Prime Minister Howard and Minister Reith have wasted huge amounts of taxpayers’ money on their failed waterfront deception,” Senator Faulkner said.


On questioning from ALP Senator Kerry O’Brien, evidence was given to Senate Estimates Committees in November 1997 that the Government has agreed to pay at least $1 .2million to consultants to devise the dodgy waterfront strategy (see attached list of consultants). The Government has discussed these reports with the NFF, but has refused to comply with a Senate order to reveal them all to the taxpayers who paid for them. The Government has also refused to release these reports under Freedom of Information laws.


“Undoubtedly, there are many more bills to be presented, particularly from recent Federal, High Court and international court actions, and the total amount of taxpayers’ money wasted on this misconceived strategy could stretch into many millions of dollars - money better spent on real services like nursing homes and hospitals,” said Senator Faulkner.


“Australian taxpayers are entitled to be incensed at this waste of money, given the spectacular failure of the Howard Government’s industrial relations, public relations and legal strategies regarding the wharves.


“And this is just the latest example of the Howard government’s willingness to use taxpayers’ money to pay for blatantly political misinformation and market research campaigns.


“The Labor Party recently exposed the Government’s plans to spend $3million on a public misinformation campaign on native title, with shoddy ads drawn up in Ministers’ offices. This campaign was only pulled at the very last minute when market testing indicated the ads would have failed to persuade one person to vote for the Government.


“The Howard Government should immediately halt this misuse of millions of taxpayers’ dollars on blatantly political consultancies and campaigns,” Senator Faulkner said.


Media contact:

George Thompson, (02) 6277 3233, (0419) 631 779


Consultants on the waterfront IR strategy


Paul Houlihan (former IR specialist with NFF and Director of PC Stevedores, the NFF Stevedore company) - $20,000


ACIL Aust (Houlihan and David Trebeck, former D/Director NFF) - $80,000 (ACIL1)


ACIL Aust - contract worth $600,000, final amount paid not yet known (ACIL2)

(incorporating subcontracts with Mark Textor (Liberal Party polling consultant) contracted up to $42,000 and Jonathan Gaul’s Canberra Liaison - amount not known)


Dr Stephen Webster (now on Reith’s staff) - $95,254


Dr John Davies - $96,376


Minter Ellison (lawyers) - $162,300


Corrs Chambers Westgarth (lawyers) - $89,956


David Webb - $23,871


BGC Media - $8,857


National Institute of Labour Studies - $15,375


Total known to have been contracted for or paid out so far: $1,191,989