Public servant 'politicised' to give Govt ad  		credibility: Gillard

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Public servant 'politicised' to give Govt ad credibility: Gillard

Labor has accused the Federal Government of using a senior public servant in its new WorkChoices TV ad because John Howard and Joe Hockey ‘lack credibility’ on the issue.

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Labor has accused the Federal Government of using a senior public servant in its new WorkChoices TV ad because John Howard and Joe Hockey ‘lack credibility’ on the issue.

In a radio interview Opposition IR spokeswoman, Julia Gillard, again accused the Government of ‘politicising the public service’.

The new ad uses Workplace Authority head Barbara Bennett to push the new AWA fairness test and has her saying: ‘The biggest myth is that employees are alone and unprotected and that’s just not true.’

PM ‘lacks credibility’

‘It is a very highly politicised script, in a very political debate, a debate that is going to be key for the next election,’ Gillard said.
‘So I think the Government is now using public servants because it knows it lacks credibility on industrial relations. People don’t like, indeed they hate Howard’s WorkChoices laws.

'So much do the Australian community hate these laws that Howard has stopped saying WorkChoices and I think he knows that he lacks credibility talking about industrial relations, [and] his Minister, Joe Hockey lacks credibility.

'So then they have cast around and worked out that maybe it would be better to put a public servant right in the middle of the political fray. We simply don’t think that’s right and its being in breach of public service traditions.’

Govt ‘bears responsibility’

Interviewer Leon Daley on 2SM put it to Gillard that Bennett was free to say ‘no’ to the ad ‘because if she had a choice, then she has clearly decided that either it’s not politicising her role or she feels comfortable with taking a political stand. If she didn’t have a choice, then that reflects very poorly on the Government’.

Gillard declined to speculate on Bennett’s motives for appearing in the ad, saying the Government ‘are the people [who] work out what is going to be in these ads, they made the decision to advertise, they bear the responsibility for the content’.

‘We don’t know because we are not privy to the conversations that have gone on between Bennett and the Government, what circumstances actually pertain here, we simply don’t know who said what,’ she said.

‘But certainly I think we can conclude that it was highly inappropriate of the Government to put Bennett in this position and the Government bears responsibility for how it treats the public service.’

Gillard said public servants historically ‘work for the Australian people - but of course they have got to work with the Government of the day. There is always a balance between the two but in Australia we have tried to resolve that balance by having the public service kept out of highly political debates and highly political roles’.

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