Fred Argy has a letter in the SMH today castigating the government for using taxpayer money to sell its IR plans.
Ross Gittins ("You are telling lies but I am selling reform", Herald, July 11) has exposed the Government’s taxpayer-financed newspaper ads on industrial relations reform as little short of political propaganda.
How do our politicians get away with it? Why are there not more safeguards to ensure tax-funded government ads are submitted to proper oversight and accountability? Why isn’t there more anger from the Opposition, community groups, academics and editorial writers, for example, about such abuse of political power?
Fred Argy Nicholls (ACT)
This is something I’ve been slow to pick up on, but Fred is obviously right. Government advertising has a place when it’s informing people about existing policies, but I can see no economic justification for governments using taxpayer money to argue for a particular set of reforms. If they want to make a case for change, they should use the same channels as the opposition – media releases, talk shows, and public meetings. If they want to take out ads to push for legislative change, they should use Liberal Party funds.
My understanding is that the sort of propaganda campaign that the Australian government is currently engaged in would be illegal in the US, but I’m happy to be corrected by those more knowledgable about US politics than me.