The Rudd government has scrapped its own ad restrictions

Previously I’ve written about the Rudd government’s desire to censor the internet and that politicians in general should be held accountable like companies – both public and private are – when producing ads and making representations about facts and figures.

But today took the cake. All of the cake. There is no more cake anywhere, the Rudd government has taken it all. They’re not going to eat it, just control it. It has emerged that the government has removed it’s own restrictions to using tax payer dollars for what can only really be described as a propaganda campaign for support of it’s proposed resources tax.

So before we go to the papers, it’s multiple choice time:

Does the government want to:

A. Be trusted to censor the internet.

B. Remove restrictions from itself to produce ads without any checks to make sure they’re accurate or

C. both of the above.

hint: C is the answer and that’s just scary, because if they’re willing to do remove their own restrictions for ads for this debate imagine what they’d do if they could censor everything you see on the internet too.

From The Australian:

The government is to rush out an advertising campaign to counter a mining industry blitz against the new 40 per cent super profits tax – a move that require special permission under the government’s rules.

Special Minister of State Joe Ludwig can exempt a campaign from compliance with the government’s guidelines on the basis of a national emergency, extreme urgency or other compelling reasons.

The exemption from the government’s advertising rules will enable the Treasurer to avoid the need to seek the approval of the Indendendent Communications Committee, which vets all government advertising.

“There is a very strong need and clear desire in the community to know more about the changes to our tax system and it’s important we fill that need,” Mr Swan said.

From The Age:

when I walked into the office this morning I was handed a statement that made me open my mouth in shock, sit down, and take a moment to compose myself.

I learned there was an emergency and the Government was going to use millions of dollars of your money to fix it.

// I’m a bit slow on the uptake. Even though I’ve been covering the story all week, I hadn’t quite grasped that the resources tax stoush had reached the status of national emergency.

But apparently it has.

Events are such that the Rudd Government has decided to suspend its own flimsy guidelines for policing taxpayer funded advertising in order to get $38.5 million worth of ads praising its tax reforms on the air. Pronto.

Like tomorrow. And the day after. The new tax ads start tomorrow. Newspapers first. TV to come.

From Business Spectator:

Omigod! Australia is facing a national crisis so threatening that the federal government has had to invoke national emergency powers. The crisis? Someone disagrees with the government!

Well, actually, it’s the fact that a lot of people disagree with the Rudd government proposed resource super profits tax that has caused Wayne Swan to use a special exemption under the national emergency powers to enable the government to mount a massive taxpayer-funded advertising campaign in support of the tax.

To do so, with the cooperation of his colleague, Special Minister of State Joe Ludwig, the government exempted itself from its own guidelines requiring tax-payer funded advertising to be cleared by an independent committee of former public servants.

The crisis? Well, according to Ludwig, he granted the exemption because of the need for “extremely urgent action” to respond to the mining industry campaign against the tax. He said he noted and accepted the Treasurer’s advice that there was an “active campaign of misinformation about the proposed changes”.

So, millions of dollars of taxpayer funds are going to be spent on an advertising campaign – there is a $38.5 million budget allocation to promulgate the virtues of the government’s tax reform package (although the RSPT is the only significant measure the government adopted from the Henry Review and even then the tax is different in some significant detail to that put forward by the review panel).

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