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Tuesday, 13 May 2008
Page: 1636

Senator Ellison asked the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, upon notice, on 12 February 2008:

With reference to media responses by the Minister, spokespersons and the department: Has the Minister established guidelines on which media enquiries will be responded to by the Minister and his office and which media enquiries will be responded to by the department; if so, what are these guidelines.

Senator Chris Evans (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship) —The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:

The ban imposed by the former Minister on the National Communications branch from responding to the media has been lifted.

The guidelines established by the Minister with the Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship in relation to media enquiries reflect arrangements originally in place with former Minister, Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone, former Parliamentary Secretary, the Hon Andrew Robb MP, and former Assistant Minister, the Hon Teresa Gambaro MP.

Those arrangements, that continue to apply, are that media enquiries about operational matters will be handled by the department’s media team within the National Communications Branch, and as appropriate, by its official spokesman. Media enquires about policy and future legislative directions by the government are referred to my office for response by me or my media adviser, as appropriate. My staff and the public affairs officers of the National Communications Branch maintain regular contact about ongoing media issues.

I have been keen to make sure that the National Communications Branch is proactive. I think the staff have so far responded very positively. They are given the opportunity to promote the department’s work and to help rebuild confidence in the department and its processes, given the difficulties of recent years. They have a very central role to do that.