Thursday, May 24, 2007

How out government treats our parliament with contempt, throwing out dollars like confetti along the way.

The government has spent $1 million on focus groups and market research in order to develop a communications policy to promote its Access Card, the legislation for which it has withdrawn from the Senate.

The total contract with Orima Research is valued at $2.3 million.

In addition the government has spent $3 million advertising the yet-to-be-legislated card through the agencies George Patterson Y&R and Eardrum and has set aside an extra $2.5 million to spend on advertising in the remaining weeks of this financial year. Next financial year's advertising spend is budgeted at $8.3 million.

The advertising is classified as an "information awareness program" rather than an "active campaign".

The department responsible to for the card, Human Services, has also hired a public relations consultant to promote the card on a contract worth $580,000 and just weeks before a Senate Committee recommended that the legislation be withdrawn hired a "branding consultant" on a contract worth more than $100,000...

A Senate estimates hearing was told yeterday that 18 departmental staff are working full-time on communications strategy for the card.

In March a scathing report by a Senate Committee half of whose members are Liberal Party senators recommended that the government withdraw the legislation and start again.

At the time two tenders were underway to build different parts of the Card's information technology system.

The Minister Senator Ellison will introduce a replacement bill in June.

He has indicated that it will still require the card to display a photograph, signature and personal identity number, despite the Committee's finding that there was no need for such a requirement and that it would lead to the card becoming a defacto Australian identitification card.

The Access card is intended to replace the Medicare and other benefits cards.