16 Months, $500 Million
Nobody does more to keep the flow of taxpayer cash running hot into the pockets of Australia's extremely wealthy media moguls than John Howard.
In just 16 months, according to this story, the Howard government has spent a mind-boggling $500 million dollars on anti-Labor, anti-union fear campaigns, pro-WorkChoices propaganda and so-called 'government-funded information advertising'. The Howard government has spent more than $1 million a day on ads, for almost 500 days running.
But it's not government-funded advertising, it's You Fund It :
The Howard government now spends more taxpayer dollars on advertising, per head of population, than any other country in the world.
The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet's annual report showed $281 million was spent on government advertising last financial year.
And the splurge didn't stop in July. Another $209 million was spent in the run-up to the poll announcement five weeks ago.
The most recent ad campaigns centred on changes to WorkChoices, climate change policy, changes to superannuation and internet safety.
Mr Howard defended the spending, declaring it all "legitimate", but Labor leader Kevin Rudd condemned it, pledging if elected on Saturday to tighten rules governing the use of taxpayers' money for publicising information campaigns.
You won't be surprised to learn that the Herald Sun, one of the big beneficiaries from such advertising splurges, buried this story under a headline about how John Howard backs his "good mate" Peter Costello to takeover the Liberal Party leadership when he finally quits.
John Howard calls directing half a billion dollars of your money into the pockets of some of Australia's richest people being economically responsible and "fiscally conservative."
UPDATE : I shouldn't be so hard on the Herald Sun. At least they ran the $500 Million In 16 Months On Ads story, even if they did so under a headline about another story. The Australian managed to wind back the impact of the revelations of Howard government ad spending this way :
Government Spends $196 Million On Ads
True enough, but as the Herald Sun article clearly reveals, it's not even half the real story.