I’ve had a whinge or two in the past about the disgraceful amount of money the federal government is now stealing direct from taxpayers to promote themselves. State governments are guilty of this too, albeit on a lower scale – although the more shameless the federal government is, the more the states will follow. There was also a Senate Committee report on the issue at the end of last year, which the government has duly ignored.
This amazing fact came out in one of today’s Senate Estimate Committee hearings:
Federal government spending on advertising increased by more than 50 per cent last year to over $200 million, but the figure was left out of an annual report in an “oversight”.
The Howard government’s advertising bill for 2005-06 – described by Labor as “a shocker” – has been revealed in a Senate estimates hearing.
The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) said the spending increased from $137.7 million in 2004-05 to a whopping $208.5 million in 2005-06.
That included $137.8 million on campaign advertising and $70.7 million on other advertising.
In the previous year, the government spent $88 million on campaign ads and $49.7 million on non-campaign ads.
The 2005-06 costs included $17.8 million to spruik the third tranche sale of the government’s shareholding in Telstra.
PM&C first assistant secretary Greg Williams said it was obviously a mistake that the latest figures were left out of his department’s annual report this year.
“It was an oversight, it was in an earlier version and I’m not sure why it didn’t appear this year,” he told the hearing. “I can give you the figure, but it just didn’t appear.”
Labor Senator John Faulkner was skeptical, saying it was the first time in the history of PM and C that the figure had been left out of an annual report.
And that’s in a non-election year! One shudders to think what the year ahead will bring.
PS: one should also not forget the huge increases in postage, printing and other entitlements which have been provided to incumbent MPs in the last few years too, providing a massive head start over any challenger come election time.