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Wednesday, 30 November 1983
Page: 3004

Senator REID —My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate because of the close interest he took in matters of Government information when he was in opposition. What was the cost of producing the first edition of the Record of Government, which, complete with portraits of Ministers , purports to inform the public of the Government's achievements in its first few months of office? How many copies have been printed and what has been their distribution? How regularly are we likely to suffer this exercise in blatant political propaganda? Does the Minister agree that the Government is guilty of gross hypocrisy, given its previously sanctimonious approach to Government information activities, in launching this entirely new publication and through its other decisions which have resulted in an increase from 17 to 33 in the journalistic staff working in close contact with Ministers to promote this Government's activities?

Senator BUTTON —I congratulate Senator Reid for remembering my diligence on this topic when we were in opposition. I am glad that I made some impression in that role. Let me say that the burden of the criticisms I made was that the Fraser Government, by its vast expenditures on these matters, was setting new and lower standards. The assumption in Senator Reid's question was, of course, that a Labor Government would inevitably set higher standards. I am very grateful to her for making that assumption. I think that it is true of most of the things which we do. It was an interesting assumption underlying the question. Having made that comment, I am unable to answer any of the questions which Senator Reid specifically asked. I do not know how many copies of the Record of Government were printed. I do not know what the cost was. I do not know how regularly the publication will come out. If Senator Reid likes it, we can arrange for it to come out every month. I will provide details as soon as possible.