Senate Estimates have provided many opportunities for Senators to try to establish the cost and nature of taxpayer funded advertising across a range of departments, finding that “the total media spend on current Government ads is $111 million.” However, the big focus is still on the (not)Workchoices advertising campaign. This is partly because it is very expensive, and partly because it is clearly aimed as much at influencing public perceptions about the Coalition as it is about providing information.
Sometimes one can argue the point about whether government advertising is party political or it is a genuine and necessary information mechanism. The one thing about the latest workplace relations advertising which shows that this is primarily about helping the Coalition government is that they had the advertising ready to roll at heavy bombardment levels ($4.1 million worth in the first week), but they still haven’t finalised the legislation that the advertising is supposedly about.
As I wrote earlier, the legislation has been referred to a Senate Committee to have a look at, even though the legislation does not yet exist. It has still to be introduced into the Parliament, but the advertisements explaining the impact of the new ‘legislation’ are so omnipresent as to be almost unavoidable. At time of writing the website of the relevant Senate Committee has the following unusual detail: “Inquiry into Workplace Relations Stronger Safety Net Bill (Exact title of bill currently unknown)“
Obviously, it is not just the title, but also the content of the Bill which is still unknown, but the public is still required to be put in submissions by 4th June and the Committee is meant to hold a public hearing and prepare a report on the Bill by 14th June, with an aim that the Bill be passed by the Senate by 21st June.