Federal Govt’s IR ads may backfire, say opponents

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Federal Govt’s IR ads may backfire, say opponents

The non-Government parties have expressed disappointment with the High Court decision on spending on IR advertising, with the Democrats saying it is now ‘not illegal but should be’, while the Greens says the ads may backfire on the Howard Government.

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The non-Government parties have expressed disappointment with the High Court decision on spending on IR advertising, with the Democrats saying it is now ‘not illegal but should be’, while the Greens says the ads may backfire on the Howard Government.

ALP

Shadow Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, who took the case to the High Court with ACTU Secretary Greg Combet, said the case had been lost on a ‘technicality’. 

‘The court decided that it was ‘not appropriate’ to answer the central question – whether Parliament has authorised the expenditure of this money [on Government advertising],’ she said.

‘It is still not clear if this expenditure was properly authorised.  This re-enforces the need for the Government to come back to Parliament and be honest about any further expenditure plan.’  

Roxon said the decision ‘does not change the fact that these ads are unethical, political and a misuse of taxpayer’s money’.  

‘We still believe that the Liberal Party should pay back the $5 million they have already spent and pay for any future ads. Otherwise, every time these ads come on TV, every taxpayer will feel the pain in their pockets. 

She said Labor has a Private Member’s Bill in Parliament that would ‘put an end to this type of abuse for once and for all’.

Democrats

The Australian Democrats Accountability Spokesman, Senator Andrew Murray, expressed disappointment at the High Court decision but said it ‘brings the responsibility squarely back to the parliament’. 

Senator Murray said the parliamentary system has failed to establish appropriate budgetary mechanisms. 

‘Instead the Government can spend any money it likes on anything, including party policy, with no accountability,’ he said. 

‘The ALP is partly to blame for this because they have never backed Democrats amendments to tighten the system. Now with Government control of the Senate, we have our hands tied,’ Senator Murray said. 

‘Unfortunately the decision of the Court means that the Government’s $20 million advertising spending spree will proceed, allowing the Government to effectively use the money of those they will harm to tell them its all for their own good, despite highly questionable claims.’

Greens

Greens Industrial Relations spokeswoman Senator Rachel Siewert said the Government’s $20 million advertising spending spree to support its IR changes could backfire on it. 

‘I just don’t think people are going to be persuaded that dismantling the current workplace safety net is in their interest, no matter how much money the Government throws at us,’ she said.

‘Every time someone sees one of the Government’s ads they’ll be reminded that $20 million of their own money has been spent to try to change their minds.  

‘I won’t be at all surprised if the Governments advertising campaign has the opposite effect to which they intend and consolidates public opposition to the Government’s agenda.’ 

'Government vindicated'

Special Minister of State Senator Eric Abezt welcomed the decision that ‘the Government’s industrial relations advertising campaign was constitutional’. 

‘The Government was always confident that what we were doing was both morally and legally correct, and that position has been vindicated,’ he said. 

‘This decisions leaves Labor, the union movement and other self-appointed experts on the topic looking very red-faced, in what was always a stunt.’

Related 

Howard Govt taken to High Court over IR ad campaign

IR changes: timing and priming

 

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