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Transcript of doorstop: Parliament House, Canberra: Monday, 21 May 2007: Government advertising; Senate Estimates; polls.

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Penny Wong Labor Senator for South Australia

Shadow Minister for Public Administration & Accountability, Corporate Governance & Responsibility, and Workforce Participation

Monday 21 May, 2007



Subjects: Government advertising; Senate Estimates; polls.

WONG: Good morning. Well it's been reported today that there is going to be another Howard Government ad blitz - this time on education - not to promote any policy changes but simply to confront a union-funded campaign.

Let's be clear: this is John Howard's re-education revolution, brought to you courtesy of the Australian taxpayer. Instead, Kevin Rudd is putting out positive policy, an education revolution for the good of the country. John Howard is putting out a re-education revolution, funded by the Australian taxpayer.

This Howard Government continues to reach deeper and deeper into the purses, pockets and wallets of working Australians to fund their re-election campaign. And let's be clear: this latest round of advertising comes on top of $1.7 billion having been spent over the term of the Howard Government on government advertising, all funded by working Australians.

Now under a Rudd Labor Government, this would not occur. We have stated we will end the abuse of taxpayer funded political advertising. We will ensure that this comes to an end. We will legislate to prevent the abuse of taxpayer funded political advertising.

What we see from the Howard Government is a re-education revolution funded by the Australian taxpayer, simply aimed at getting John Howard re-elected.

JOURNALIST: What's your estimate of how much the Government will spend on political advertising between now and the election?

WONG: Well we know to date the Howard Government has spent around $1.7 billion over the term of the government, funded by the Australian taxpayer, on government advertising campaigns. And we call on the Government to come clean. Tell us, just how much is this latest round of political advertising going to cost? How much is the Howard Government going to spend of taxpayers' money between now and the next election? We see Minister Hockey refuse to disclose just how much taxpayers' money this Government is wasting on their new industrial relations campaign, another re-education campaign, advertising the fairness test which hasn't even been written yet. This is blatant political advertising and the Liberal Party should be paying for it.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible)… budget estimates (inaudible)…

WONG: Well we will certainly give the Government the opportunity to come clean with the Australian taxpayer, as to just how much of taxpayers' money this Government is proposing to spend on advertising in an attempt to get itself re-elected. We will be putting those questions. However, this Government has a very poor track record when it comes to coming clean on just how much taxpayers' money they're proposing to spend on advertising.

JOURNALIST: Another opinion poll showing Labor well ahead of the Government. Is the Government finished?

WONG: Look, there is a long way to go between now and the next election. There's a long way to go to the next election…

JOURNALIST: There's only a (inaudible) months to go before the …

WONG: But I think what this poll will do is ensure that you will see yet more political advertising from this Government. This Government will do anything, say anything, and spend as much of taxpayers' money as it thinks is necessary to win the next election. So you will see more political advertising. You will see more scare campaigns. You will see more advertising on issues such as climate change, education and industrial relations that the Government knows are causing them problems.

JOURNALIST: Is it a sign of desperation?

WONG: It's a sign that this Government is prepared to do anything, and spend as much of taxpayers' money as it can, in order to try and get itself re-elected. Thank you.


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