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$15 million in one week! - A New WORLD record for Australian Government advertising.

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Media Release

Kelvin Thomson MP Shadow Minister for Public Accountability; Shadow Minister for Human Services Federal Member for Wills

17 October 2005

$15 million in one week! A New WORLD Record for Australian Government Advertising

The Howard Government’s weekend advertising blitz has pushed the advertising bill for the extreme industrial relations legislation over the $15 million mark.

“$15 million in one week sets a new world record for Australian Government advertising,” said Shadow Minister for Public Accountability Kelvin Thomson. “The magnitude of this taxpayer funding advertising campaign simply blows away previous campaign expenditure levels.”

“If taxpayer-funded propaganda were a Commonwealth Games sporting event, John Howard could enter his industrial relations campaign with confidence.”

“It makes the opening salvos of the New Tax System and the Unchain My Heart campaigns look like warm ups,” Mr Thomson points out. “The 1998 New Tax System campaign featured a $15 million spend over three weeks. `Unchain my Heart’ was run over two months.”

“The line between information and persuasion has been well and truly crossed.

“Information would be telling the Australian people how to recognise the symptoms of bird flu. This is propaganda - regularly repeated political assertions when the legislation has not even been introduced into the Parliament.

“What we are now seeing is carefully crafted, high-frequency, high-rotation placements designed to promote a political agenda without the legislation.

John Howard’s statement in Question Time last week reveals how out of touch with community standards his government has become after nine long years in office. On 13 October Mr Howard claimed that to “have embarked upon a public information campaign to explain the rationale for these changes. We regard it as utterly defensible.”

The weekend saw wall-to-wall TV and radio advertising and new rounds of four page newspaper spreads in Saturday and Sunday papers. Each evening of television coverage costs the community $1.7 million and each national placement of the four page newspaper spreads is just over the $1 million mark.

“Having hit a new $15 million high for a week’s advertising, the Howard Government can no claim this is simply a public information campaign.

“The public are footing the bill for this advertising which should now cease until the legislation is passed by both Houses of Parliament.

/Ends Melbourne 17/10/2005

Contact: Cora Trevarthen 0418/770484