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Political propaganda use of taxpayers' funds continues

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Senator Jim Short Shadow M inister for Finance and Shadow Minister Assisting the Leader on Commonwealth/State Relations



The Federal Government is continuing to fund the Labor Party political propaganda stunt of the National Prices Network (NPN).

The Department of Treasury has made provision for another $38,200 to be provided to the Australian Federation of Consumer

Organisations (AFCO) and the Australian Pensioners & Superannuants Federation (APSF) for NPN activities, according to answers provided to me through Senate Estimates Committees.

This takes the total costs to taxpayers of the NPN to well over $300,000.

In 1989, the Coalition exposed in Parliament that Labor HP's in marginal electorates throughout Australia had received additional part-time staff and computer equipment, over and above Remuneration Tribunal entitlements, to assist in promoting the NPN in their

electorates. The total initial outlay for this blatant vote buying exercise was more than $200,000.

Prior to the 1990 election, the NPN was coordinated by the Caucus Committees Secretariat, and some offices of Labor Members of Parliament in marginal seats. They mobilised volunteer community groups, particularly pensioners, to conduct their own surveys of

local supermarket prices, and then publicise the results in their local media.

However, the surveys were shown to be inaccurate. They failed to include generic labels and/or specials. It was not possible to check the results, such as the details of surveys, including dates, brand names, weights and sizes.

George Gear, MP, one of the initiators of the NPN, and now

Government Whip, admitted in 1988 in a confidential memo that "really by the time we look at national figures the information to consumers is useless but it makes good reading for newspapers".

This is an unacceptable use of taxpayers' money. It is even more obnoxious at a time when all Australians are suffering hardship from Mr. Keating's deliberately engineered recession.

The Coalition again calls on the Government to cease this

objectionable use of taxpayers' money for party political

propaganda purposes.

Canberra 6th January 1991