Government Propaganda

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.

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3 Responses to Government Propaganda

  1. mike says:

    Truth in Advertising, what a concept.

    “Volvos there Boxy but there Safe” (Sorry I don’t recall the movie this line is from …Was it Stir Crazy).

    This far from a novel or new concept in 2000 it seemed to be some what of the flavour of the day. The ALP was developing its Government Advertising (Objectivity, Fairness and Accountability) Bill 2000 the Democrats The Charter of Political Honesty Bill 2000.

    Slanted advertising by government would have been in contravention of both these Act. So why don’t they get up. Simply its nice to be seen to be doing something but no one actually want them to get up.

    OK interest rates will be higher under Labor…Higher than what ? The statement is not intrinsically false. The little bit of information that was missing was that Interest rates were going up period. I knew it, but it was effective.

    Information disseminated from government and those opposed to subject will always be slanted. It will be presented in a manner that best reflects the views of those producing it.

    Can some one tell me what ever happened to the two Bills mentioned above?


  2. Mike

    The Bills you mentioned are Private Senators Bills, which means they very rarely become law – and never without the support of the Govt.

    Senator Andrew Murray has continued to do a range of things to keep pressure on the issue (apart from updating his Bill with a 2003 version).

    Best to see his website ( rather than have me rattle it all off here, but it has included Senate Committe reports and questions.

    However, even getting the information from the Govt about how much they spend and what it’s on is very hard (see

    Whilst Labor federally has supported some of this, I think the only thing that would really give it sufficient momentum is for the State Labor Governments to adopt genuine reform in this area – that would have to have some impact in creating enough polical pressure to sham the federal Govt into reigning in this corrupt practice.

  3. mike says:


    Thanks I did actually find AndrewMs info after I posted my response. Wow there are a lot of Andrews around. Both the proposed Bill had a lot of merit.


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