Advertising a law that doesn’t exist

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.

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  1. Hi Andrew:

    Beware – you’ll be inundated after tonight’s RN program on blogging.

    Do you comment at John Birmingham’s blog, Blunt Instrument, at the Brisbane times?
    He has a thread running on this at the moment – you should visit and post your url there.

    Birmo has a big blogosphere (the birmosphere) and, he’s funny. I think you two would hit it off.

    Want to also thank you once again for contributing your time to that Mohsen CD. You are a good man – and rock god.

  2. Good luck to them. I reckon every dollar they are spending of ours is just hastening the day they can no longer control the purse strings.

  3. Thanks Annette – although you’ve reminded that I felt bad about never doing a blog piece on Mohsen’s CD. I’ve got a half drafted piece, but I could never get a finished version which didn’t feel to me like a really naff, self-promotional effort suggesting I was call just cos I was on a CD. I hope it went platinum anyway, depsite my lack of extra online promotion.

    Still, you’ve now called me a rock god in public, so I guess I can write about it without worry of looking any more naff than I now already look.

    I do read Birmingham’s blog from time to time – I like to read that sort of writing style, but I usually have to be in the right mood before I’ll wade into commenting. It’s safer to stick to dry old politics – at least at the moment.

  4. It just shows that the Coalition realise not only how much trouble the initial WorkChoices legislation caused, but that they are convinced these changes will be accepted and passed by the Senate, and that they think the populace will laud them for correcting an error. This is a misguided assumption, and the current advertising is both in vain and reprehensible. How dare Howard (nearly an anagram) and friends interpret the Australian population as having the collective memory of a bowl full of goldfish! And how dare they assume that Senators are superhuman and can absorb and comprehend such rushed legislation in near-Planck time.

    I can only hope that this is not a giant ruse for Johnnie to push further nasties on us all, and that come June 21st if not every Senator is fully informed but must make a decision, that their doubts are translated into an answer of “no”; further, that this group includes a couple of Liberals (you could always size up Russell Trood on this one – he seems a little more moderate than the mainstream LPA figureheads).

    Best of luck with it Andrew.

  5. Indeed. I really can’t see how this week’s campaign is justified given that the legislation has not been compiled or finalised yet.

  6. Agree with the previous comment. I have been waiting for political reporters to start amking the obvious point that thee is no actual legislation to advertise. Or do we live in an autocracy where once the Executive makes an announcementis law.

  7. This is the height of arrogance by Howard. Sadly our press are unlikely to pay much attention to this blatant disregard of the role of parliament.

    It is extraordinary, and a measure of the deviousness/desparation of this mob, that it will be necessary to legislate to stop governments advertising, what is still merely new party policy.

    The pressure should be on Labor now to propose a ban this behaviour rather than use it as precedent.

  8. I have only seen the newspaper ads. Seems an awful lot of money to advertise apples. Doesn’t even tell us where we can buy them.

  9. In the past I wrote to Federal members of parliament about the “power of one” where any Member of Parliament can challenge the constitutional validity of proposed legislation (Bill) and then not unless the Speaker/President has appropriately dealt with the constitutional validity of the Bill can it be voted upon.
    Copy of that documents also in in my book;”INSPECTOR-RIKATI® on IR WorkChoices legislation”.

    Further, advertisisement by the government itself must be within the funding provided for in the Appropriation Bills governing the current financial year. As such, if the $55 million previous cost was not included and neither the now $4.1 million then it is well overdue that the Members of Parliament themselves oppose it by pursuing legal action in the High Court of Australia. No good wninging about it and do nothing about it.
    The Framers of the Constitution debated matters extensively and while at the time no television existed, let alone television advertising, nevertheless it is clear that they made clear that Members of parliament themselves are in the forefront to fight such corruptive conduct to misuse Consolidated Revenue. Therefore, I be looking forward to hansard recording that you have taken appropriate action against this abuse.

  10. The Howard government has lost the plot completely,so much so my personal problems and miseries are the only matters worth considering.Frankly I dont know how the Senator can tolerate these morons as individual lives go down the gurgler.I now have doubts about my psychological survival,in the pressure of surviving in the whole realms of that,including surviving by opinion.Faced with my last Telstra Bill and how even they have been ganged up against..the morons have taken us too far down the road of senility.Good Luck Senator.

  11. I agree that it’s reprehensible to be using taxpayer money to fund something that at this stage is Liberal Party policy, not law – but hardly surprising since the original WorkChoices ads were plastered with the “Protected by Law” slogan even before the bill was introduced into parliament.

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