Govt's IR ad claims fail pizza test, says Labor

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Govt's IR ad claims fail pizza test, says Labor

Government claims that its latest IR ads are not political is like Pizza Hut saying its ads aren't meant to encourage people to buy pizzas, Labor said today.

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Government claims that its latest IR ads are not political is like Pizza Hut saying its ads aren't meant to encourage people to buy pizzas, Labor said today.

Opposition IR spokeswoman, Julia Gillard, said the TV ad blitz that went to air last night showed the Government was 'desperate', pointing out that the ads were being shown before the legislation was even written.

Howard 'desperate', says Gillard

'Howard has claimed today these advertisements aren't political,' she said. 'That is as silly as saying that an advertisement for Pizza Hut isn't about trying to get you to buy and eat pizza.

'Howard is a desperate man … and he will be throwing tens of millions of dollars of taxpayers' money at his advertising campaign to try and promote his so-called WorkChoices laws,' Gillard said. 'We know that the brand of WorkChoices is so on the nose that [Prime Minister John] Howard has stopped even saying it, but he is prepared to waste tens of millions of dollars of taxpayers' money advertising for his laws.'

Reveal cost

Gillard said the Opposition would use Parliament today to call on Howard to say 'just how much taxpayers' money is going to be wasted on these advertisements and whether or not, having seen today's opinion polls on industrial relations, he has decided to spend even more on this advertising'.

'These ads are political ads, they are meant to help the Government. They should be paid for by the Liberal Party, not Australian taxpayers [who] when they see these ads should think to themselves, that's money that could have gone to my local hospital or my local school.'

$130m estimate

Labor's Shadow Minister for Public Accountability, Senator Penny Green, said today the total cost of the Government's IR advertising since the last election could reach $130m. She said last year's WorkChoices ads cost $55m and reports suggested the campaign this year could cost $75m. She said a Labor Government would ban such advertising.

Robb ducks questions

The Minister for Vocational and Further Education, Andrew Robb, yesterday refused to explain how the Government could run advertising to explain the working of an IR system when the legislation setting it up had not even been put before the Parliament.

Asked twice on television by Sydney Morning Herald political report Peter Hartcher how this could be done, Robb evaded answering both questions.

When journalist Jennifer Hewett suggested the public must be 'very cynical about this whole exercise' and asked: 'Are you saying the previous policy was just lousy, or did you never sell it properly in the first place, again using taxpayer funds?', Robb also evaded that question.

Ads provide 'reassurance', says Hockey

Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey told ABC radio the TV ads were 'very plain, they're very simple, they direct people to a phone number for the Workplace Information line'.

'What it does is provide people with some reassurance that there is a stronger safety net in place and if they need any information they know where to get it,' he said.

Asked how much the advertising campaign would cost Hockey said: 'Well we will continue the campaign and we'll monitor its success. It's important that people know where they stand, we will obviously properly inform them and we will monitor it as it goes along.'

'Protected by law'

Speaking on the same program, Gillard pointed out that last year's WorkChoices ads 'had a big stamp "protected by law", trying to fool Australians into believing  that key award conditions like penalty rates were "protected by law" when Howard's laws let those penalty rates be stripped away'. 

'That advertising was wrong,' she said. 'It was misleading. It was calculated to mislead. And the advertising this time will be of an identical nature, all funded by taxpayers.

Liberals should pay

'If the Liberal party wants to put up a party political propaganda campaign, then it should pay for it, it shouldn't take money out of the purses and wallets of hard working Australians to pay for its mean, tricky and desperate politics.'

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