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Phantom Minister strikes a blow for accountability.



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334a Marrickville Road, Marrickville NSW 2204 Phone (02) 9564 3588  Fax (02) 9564 1734 Parliament House: Phone (02) 6277 4031 Fax (02) 6277 8445

Thursday, 31 January 2002

PHANTOM MINISTER STRIKES A BLOW FOR ACCOUNTABILITY

In an extraordinary move to avoid public accountability, the new Minister for Ageing, Mr Kevin Andrews, is now making public comments via pre-recorded statements.

Evidence of this new media strategy came to light in a media release circulated by the Minister yesterday announcing the successful applicants for the 2001 Aged Care Approvals Round.

The Minister’s media release told radio journalists that: “Minister Andrews has pre-recorded a series of grabs about the Approvals Round for use in radio reports” (See attachment).

Mr Andrews, the fourth aged care minister in six years, is going to unprecedented lengths to avoid public scrutiny and questions about why a surplus of 800 beds in 1996 has been turned in a deficit of over 6,500 beds over the term of his Government even after yesterday’s announcement.

It is a disturbing situation where a Minister is unwilling to make himself available to answer questions relating to his portfolio responsibilities. Or is it the case that this Minister can only make public statements when reading from a prepared script?

Minister Andrews appears to have taken a leaf out of his predecessor’s handbook. Whereas Mrs Bishop had the phantom beds, Mr Andrews has gone further and become the phantom Minister.

This action by Mr Andrews also further highlights the lengths the Howard Government will go to control the media and minimise public scrutiny of its policy failures.

In the wake of its third election victory the Howard Government has become more obsessed with managing the media and journalists than addressing the serious problems adversely affecting the quality of life of thousands of frail elderly Australians and their families.

For more information: Anthony Albanese, MP 0419 777 597 Jeff Singleton 0414 492 420

Anthony Albanese MP Federal M ember for Grayndler Shadow Minister for Ageing and Seniors