Since when is an ALP crisis a national emergency?
Isn’t it amazing Mr Rudd has a get out clause to allow him to run an advertising campaign worth $38 million of tax payer’s money without any scrutiny at all. How pathetic!
A ‘cancer in our democracy’ his words for tax payer funded government advertising, when done by someone other than him and his government, suddenly turns into a national emergency to tell porkies about his opponents.
A quick analysis of the so called implementation of his promise to have the Auditor-General be used to give his campaigns legitimacy is interesting.
First the Department of Finance sets up guidelines for all major advertising. These allow the Auditor-General to comment on a campaign after inquiry (not audit) and say whether or not the guidelines were met.
The Secretary of the relevant department proposing the campaign could then determine whether the campaigning went ahead, even if the campaign did not comply. The Auditor-General had no power of veto only moral assuaging.
On the basis of inquiry by the Public Accounts and Audit Committee into how the Auditor-General carried out his work of which I was part, some campaigns did not go ahead because of the Auditor-General’s comments.
Enter three former departmental heads – headed up by former Defence Secretary and High Commissioner to New Zealand, one Alan Hawke (He recommends Auditor General gets sacked because he was undercutting the authority of departmental secretaries and he gets the job).
Finance then prepares new but watered down guidelines.
But note both the original and watered down guidelines have “get out clauses”. That is the Cabinet Secretary can exempt a campaign from compliance with the guidelines, on the basis, in the case of the Auditor-General guidelines, of national emergency, extreme urgency or other extraordinary reason the Cabinet Secretary thinks appropriate.
And in the Hawke guidelines in the case of “national emergency, extreme urgency or other compelling reason”.
Obviously the Treasurer thought he could not get his proposed super tax campaign through even when watered down guidelines which require that campaigns must be “presented in objective language and be free from political argument.”
The guidelines also state that a campaign must not try to foster a positive impression of a particular party or promote political interests.
That it must not directly attack or scorn the views, policies or actions of others such as the policies and opinions of opposition parties or groups.
And it must not be designed to influence public support for a political party, a candidate for election, a Minister or a Member of Parliament.
No wonder Treasurer Swan (the con) sought an exemption, and Cabinet Secretary Senator Ludwig granted it. There’s no way in the world the Treasurer’s anti mining company campaign masquerading as an information campaign would get through those guidelines!
But to add insult to injury a quick look at the old previous government guidelines which operated under the MCGC system, had no get out clause. No matter what, all major or sensitive advertising campaigns had to comply with the then guidelines. And all three sets of guidelines were overseen by the Department of Finance.
So where does this leave us. Rudd has spent some $115 million under his first two sets of guidelines, but is now spending $38 million to promote a tax for which there is no legislation, nor will there be before the next election.
There is no national emergency, only an ALP crisis.
Cabinet Secretary Ludwig hid his decision from the Senate Estimate Committee process by announcing his exemption after his part in estimates ended and the ads were made and away. Was he ashamed of his decision or just fearful of being questioned on the legitimacy of his role in this fraud upon the nation?
Was the real reason for the $38 million campaign panic – to combat a campaign by an industry exposing a tax gouge that will penalise shareholders (including mum and dads) superannuation funds and future investment in mining and the wealth it brings the nation.
Mr Rudd’s greatest hypocrisy is that he proffered up the Auditor-General to be his seal of sanctity. He betrayed the Auditor-General by manufacturing his sacking from his watch dog role and now exempts his most political advertising from the guidelines just to ensure it will be political.
He promised a system of integrity – he has failed again.
The Australian people gave you a go MR Rudd, now its time to go.
And a P.S for Senator Brown of the Greens (now there is a contradiction in terms). It’s no good crying out about how bad the government is if you simply remain the conduit for delivering your preference votes to Labor.
People would take you more seriously if you adopted the Democrat’s position of not directing your preferences but letting the voter decide. By all means put on your how-to-vote, a how to preference Labor, but add how to preference the Coalition.
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