Stunning revelations at a Parliamentary Committee had revealed massive breaches of the Rann Government’s own advertising guidelines and, in particular, that 24 separate advertising campaigns in the last three years had not been approved by the government body established for approval.
“Mr Chris Eccles, Chief Executive of the Department of the Premier and Cabinet (DPC), told the Select Committee on Government Advertising that controversial advertising campaigns, such as the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) and water security campaigns were two of the advertisements that had not been properly approved,” Shadow Minister for Finance Rob Lucas said today.
“It was also revealed today that the Auditor-General told DPC about six weeks ago that he was investigating five separate advertising campaigns, including the RAH, water security and the 2009-10 State Budget advertising campaigns.
“It is now clear that today’s changed policy announcement is the result of the Rann Government being told six weeks ago of the Auditor-General’s investigation, as well as the Legislative Council Select Committee on Government Advertising meeting to be heard today.
“Mr Eccles also confirmed that Mr Rann’s own Communications Manager, Paul Flanagan, was the senior person responsible for these massive breaches of government guidelines.
“Mr Flanagan held the position of Chair of the Premier’s Communications Advisory Group (PCAG) during the period of the breaches and is paid about $150,000 per annum for his job as Mr Rann’s Communications Manager.
“The sticky fingerprints of Mr Rann’s own Communications Manager were clearly all over the controversial decision to spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on the RAH issue in an attempt to support Mr Rann’s side of the argument over the future of the RAH.
“Mr Rann must now indicate what disciplinary action he will take against Mr Flanagan for what are unacceptable breaches of government guidelines.”
Other evidence to the Committee included:
• DPC didn’t know how much Mr Flanagan and others had approved for expenditure on the controversial RAH campaign;
• Government spending on media had jumped from $21 million in 2002 to $34 million in 2008 and in 2009 was on track to a total of $40-$45 million, as $23 million had already been spent in the first six months;
• Mr Eccles agreed that the new PCAG announced by the Premier was not “independent”, contrary to the claim by Mr Rann in his press conference today. In fact, all six members of the Committee are either public servants or work in Mr Rann’s own office!
• Mr Rann’s supposed ban on politicians in government advertisements do not extend to press advertising, so Mr Rann’s photo can appear in paid advertisements in the newspaper.
“Mr Rann has again been caught out misleading South Australians and he must be more open and accountable with taxpayers’ dollars,” Mr Lucas said.