Documents released under Freedom of Information (FoI) had revealed the Rann Government had employed more than 140 people working full time inside Government departments’ on public relations, media and communications functions and was spending almost $19 million each year.
Liberal Member of the Legislative Council, Rob Lucas, said today that the staff working inside Government departments was in addition to the ‘Spin Doctors’ and other ministerial staff being employed inside the 15 Ministerial offices. These documents showed some of the staff were being paid more than $100,000 per year.
“It is clear that Premier Mike Rann has embarked on a deliberate strategy of ‘embedding Spin Doctors’ in departments to assist him with manipulation of the media message,” Mr Lucas said.
“These figures are not revealed in the annual budget papers because the Rann Government conceals them by including them in many different budget lines.
“The Rann Government is so intent on ‘political spin’ rather than substance it is wasting millions of taxpayer dollars every year on public relations and media management.”
The following table, compiled from material obtained under FoI, is an underestimate of actual costs because some departments refused to provide costs of advertising campaigns and others did not include salary on-costs of staff in the table:
Department Number of Employees Number of FTEs Total costs including salaries ($)
Premier and Cabinet 30 24 5,244,256
Treasury and Finance 7 7.5 433,952
Primary Industries and Resources 10 10 930,000
Transport, Energy and Infrastructure 7 6.5 844,000
Attorney-General’s 26 20.3 2,344,296
Health 23 23 3,726,000
Education and Children’s Services 16 15.3 1,577,895
Families and Communities 4 4 296,514
Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation 6 6 1,623,900
Correctional Services 1 1 82,105
Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology 17 14.9 942,000
Environment and Conservation 10 10 564,606
Total 157 142.5 18,609,524
“The FoI documents also reveal that ministerial ‘Spin Doctors’ in some Ministerial offices had supported public servants in minimising the amount of information released, such as not including salary on-costs and estimated marketing budgets.”
For example, Minister Paul Caica’s media adviser, Loine Sweeney, is quoted in one email to a public servant:
“Good that you are keeping it to an effective minimum, Sally. Cheers, Loine” (22 May 2008)
“Premier Mike Rann needs to explain publicly why he needs to spend at least $74 million over the four year forward estimates on ‘Spin Doctors’ and other related staff and marketing functions in addition to the millions already spent on ‘Spin Doctors’ in Ministers’ offices.
“Instead of wasting millions of taxpayer dollars on ‘political spin’, Mr Rann should direct some of this money into more important priorities, such as hospitals and schools and families of children with disabilities.”