The bad news stories buried during the holidays
Spin doctors became infamous when, on September 11, 2001, during the horrific attacks on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon, British Labour staffer Jo Moore send out an email encouraging her press office colleagues to release bad news stories, in the hope that they would not get any attention.
“It is now a very good day to get out anything we want to bury” Moore wrote.
While spin doctors are not always so craven, a government’s desire to avoid bad publicity is acute.
As many Australians were taking a break, the Rudd Government’s spin doctors were hard at work “taking out the trash” – releasing as much bad news as possible while most were celebrating the holiday season with family and friends, hoping people would not notice.
This is not a one-off event. Just look at what came out last year at the time of the AFL Grand Final and the Melbourne Cup.
AFL Grand Final day saw the Rudd Government announce that it had delayed the start of part of its schools package because of labour shortages and cost blowouts.
Melbourne Cup eve saw reports of the Rudd Government’s decision to cut its home insulation rebate from $1600 to $1200.
Bad news is released on days like those to avoid media coverage and your attention.
This past Christmas and New Year break has seen Labor redouble its efforts to hide or bury bad news.
From Christmas and New Years Day through to Australia Day, there has been a concerted attempt to release as much bad news as possible, in the hope that Australians would not notice.
In the days leading up to Christmas, Labor transferred a number of asylum seekers from the overflowing Christmas Island detention facility to the mainland. In the weeks leading up to Christmas there were on average 100 arrivals a week and more boats arrived over summer.
And the media is often only told about new boat arrivals just after the deadline for the following morning’s papers has passed.
On Christmas Eve, there were reports of an audit of Australia’s policing capability that found funding problems right across the Australian Federal Police, threatening the AFP’s overseas deployments and the Rudd Government’s election promises for more officers.
Boxing Day saw the release of a discussion paper that floated the possibility of regional universities and technical colleges merging.
There were also disturbing reports on Boxing Day about the dithering and delay surrounding the Government’s white paper on counter-terrorism.
On 30 December we found out that federal bureaucrats received $36 million in performance bonuses, with one public servant receiving $50,000.
On New Year’s Eve, Environment Minister Peter Garrett released a new analysis of the ETS, deliberately omitting the costs Labor’s ETS will impose on all households.
New Year’s Eve also saw the arrival of some of the Oceanic Viking asylum seekers in Australia, beneficiaries the special deal Kevin Rudd has done so much to deny.
On New Year’s Day there were reports that the wholesale price of electricity will more than double in the next two years and triple during the next two decades under the Rudd Government’s ETS.
We also learned that only a quarter of the 21 million vaccines bought by the Government have actually been used and taxpayers are going to have to foot the multi-million dollar bill.
And in spite of Kevin Rudd’s election commitment to increased transparency, we found that Labor refused more Freedom of Information requests than the Howard Government.
Finally, over the Australia Day weekend we got the results of the investigation into the explosion of an asylum seeker vessel off the coast of Northern Australia last year
And this isn’t even a full list.
While you were on holiday or enjoying a short break, the Rudd Labor Government was busy trying to bury the news they did not want you to see.
So when you see or hear the “good news” they are so keen for you to know in this election year, ask yourself – what are they hiding?
Because Kevin Rudd is doing everything he can to ensure that you don’t notice what he doesn’t want you to see.
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