Govt under scrutiny over mining tax ads

Govt under scrutiny over mining tax ads

Yahoo!7 June 16, 2010, 9:30 pm


The Rudd Government is facing an inquiry into its broken promise on political advertising.

7News can reveal a public servant who recommended the advertising watchdog be dissolved is now being paid a small fortune to do the job himself.

Auditor-General Ian McPhee will front a Senate committee in Canberra tomorrow to publicly detail his concerns about Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s back flip.

Earlier this year Mr Rudd dumped a system which proposed advertising campaigns be scrutinised by the auditor-general independently.

He has since passed the role onto a committee of former public servants, including advertising review author Dr Allan Hawke.

The way in which Mr McPhee was swept aside by Dr Hawke’s review has guaranteed a new controversy.

Dr Hawke is career bureaucrat and former chief-of-staff to Paul Keating. His review led to Mr McPhee being dumped from the independent role.

Dr Hawke took 18 days and was paid $60,000 to recommend a new panel to oversee government ads, which he now heads.

He works four days a month for $175,000 a year.

The move came despite Mr Rudd’s “100 per cent guarantee” promise before the 2007 election that government advertising would be independently reviewed.

In an explosive letter, copied to Mr Rudd, Mr McPhee said the government review “seriously misunderstands” his role.

He said it contains “a number of inaccuracies” and “generally softens” the rules removing “rigour and discipline in this sensitive area.”

Mr Rudd suggested Mr McPhee was uncomfortable being the umpire of government advertising

“The Auditor-General in fact wrote to me and indicated that he regarded this as potentially in conflict with his position,” Mr Rudd said.

Other politicians, like Independent Senator Nick Xenophon, see it differently.

“Make no mistake, the government has sacked the independent umpire on this,” he said.

“The Australian people have every right to think this stinks.”

Greens Senator Bob Brown has a bill before parliament to reinstate the auditor-general’s role, as the $38 million taxpayer-funded mining tax ad blitz continues to flood our screens.

“It’s again an example of the executive government simply changing the rules to benefit itself,” Senator Brown said.


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