Feb 8, 2016

Government prepares infrastructure spin blitz

Commonwealth officials have confirmed the Turnbull Government is preparing to squander $18 million on a propaganda blitz designed to conceal its poor performance on infrastructure.

And in an indication of its plans on election timing, the massive campaign of television and newspaper advertisements is designed to run until mid-to-late August.

Despite the Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showing public sector infrastructure investment has collapsed by 20 per cent since the election of the Coalition Government, it is now clear Mr Turnbull will cut funding even further to misrepresent his woeful record.

Officials appearing before Senate Budget Estimates Committee hearings today confirmed the nature and timing of the propaganda campaign, which will include newspapers and television.

The officials said the television campaign would include separate advertisements for different Australian states and advertisements aimed exclusively at individual regional television markets.

Australians pay taxes so governments can actually build important roads, railway lines and other infrastructure.

But Mr Turnbull is now planning to waste scarce funds previously allocated to actual infrastructure investment on spin, with officials telling this morning’s estimates hearing the $18 million would be drawn from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development’s existing Budget.

Despite pre-election promises of an infrastructure boom, the Government’s came to office cancelling all investment in public transport not subject to contracts and reallocating the public transport funding to new toll roads.

But of those projects, Melbourne’s East-West Link has collapsed and the government’s handling of the project has been the subject of a damning report by the Auditor General, while the WA Supreme Court has halted the Perth Freight Link on environmental grounds.

The budget for the Government’s other major road project – Sydney’s WestConnex – has ballooned from $10 billion to $16.8 billion.

This record of failure is the reason Mr Turnbull now plans to resort to propaganda.

The collapse of the Government’s infrastructure program has come at the very time Australia needs to lift investment in infrastructure to make up for the decline in construction activity in the mining sector.