Australian Government advertising seemed to reach fever pitch in the weekend newspapers. All in the public interest naturally.

With the Government busy defending the extra taxpayer-funded expenditure required to overhaul its WorkChoices campaign, the weekend’s glut wasn’t an ideal look. This morning Prime Minister John Howard spoke on the matter of ad spend on ABC’s AM.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Prime Minister, why can’t the Australian people then know how much the advertising campaign that you are now putting forward on the fairness test will cost?

JOHN HOWARD: Well, we will make that known. We’ve never said we won’t make it known, but at this stage, while the details of that campaign are being fully settled, it’s not possible to put a precise figure on it…

Since the Howard Government came to office, it has spent $1,655,854,961 on government advertising, estimates the office of Penny Wong, Shadow Minister for Public administration and Accountability, with the yearly spend increasing significantly over this period. They break down the latest government ad costs thus:

  • Episode One: WorkChoices – cost $55 million
  • Episode Two: Private Health – cost $52 million
  • Episode Three: Superannuation – cost $69 million
  • Episode Four: Fake IR Fairness Test – reported cost $75 million

And, they note, there’s another spend on the way thanks to “Operation Re-education – cost unknown”. Howard’s taxpayer-funded advertising blitz could be expanded to include a prime-time campaign to tackle teachers’ unions “misinformation” on schools funding, reports Samantha Maiden in The Oz today.

But are any of the current individual campaigns getting heard above the din? One message is coming in loud and clear. Your government is working for you, whoever you are.

WORKERS:

  • The Workplace Relations System. Know where you stand. Australia’s workplace relations system has a set of rules and obligations that all employers are required, by law, to comply with. (19-20 May, everywhere)

    workplace.gov.au

ASTHMATICS AND PARENTS OF ASTHMATICS:

  • Newly diagnosed with asthma? Now’s the time to get things under control. (The Weekend Australian Magazine 19-20 May)

    A written asthma action plan can help your child stay symptom-free. (Sunday magazine, News Ltd)

    www.australia.gov.au/asthma 

AGED PERSONS:

  • Do you need help to stay at home? Would you like information about the wide range of community care programs and services available to help you stay at home? Freecall™ 1800 052 222 (19 May, Daily Telegraph)

    Commonwealth Carelink Centres. www.commcarelink.health.gov.au

MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS:

  • National cervical cancer vaccinations begin April 2007. [The] Australian Government is making the cervical cancer vaccine available free to all females aged 12 to 26 under the National HPV Vaccination Program. (19-20 May, Good Weekend magazine)

    australia.gov.au/cervical cancer

TWENTYSOMETHINGS:

  • Private Health Cover. It costs less if you join by the age of 31. (19-20 May, Good Weekend magazine)

    Private Health Insurance. Stay with it for 10 years and lose the loading. (19 May, The Weekend Australian)

    australia.gov.au/privatehealth

RETIREES:

  • The biggest reform to Australian superannuation ever. Better Super. Australia’s worked hard for it. (19-20 May, The Weekend Australian Financial Review; 19 May, The Daily Telegraph).

    australia.gov.au/bettersuper

YOUNG PEOPLE/GREY NOMADS:

  • “Just one dodgy prawn ended up costing me thousands.” Overseas medical costs can be very expensive. Make sure you’re insured. So before you go, go to smarttraveller.gov.au. It’s a free service for Australian travellers… (19-20 May, The Weekend Australian Magazine)

    smarttraveller.gov.au

PAROCHIALISTS:

  • Becoming an Australian citizen is much more than a ceremony. It’s an opportunity to fully embrace the Australian way of life and enjoy everything this country has to offer. (19-20 May, The Weekend Australian Magazine)

    www.australia.gov.au/citizenship

ASPIRATIONALISTS:

  • Australian Scholarships. The Pathway to Excellence. 2008 Endeavour Executive Awards. The Endeavour Programme is part of Australian Scholarships, an initiative of the Australian Government to promote sustainable (19-20 May, The Weekend Australian)

    www.endeavour.dest.gov.au

THE ECO-CONSCIOUS:

  • Now open for applications. Australian Government Envirofund. Round 10: Coastal and Marine Grants. Grants for as little as a few hundred dollars or up to $50,000 are available from the Australian Government Envirofund. (19-20 May, The Weekend Australian)

    www.nht.giv.au/envirofund

Given the hogging of newsprint, one government ad in particular took our fancy. 

  • Newsprint comes back as good news. In the last 16 years, Australia’s newsprint recycling rate has increased from 28% to 75.4% making us one of the best newspaper and magazine recyclers in the world. (19-20 May, The Weekend Australian)

    Australian Government, Department of the Environment and Water Resources

If this keeps up, we’d want to be.

Peter Fray

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