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'Secret' report on Education Department's spin team

Date

Phillip Thomson

A $95,000 report into the Education Department's public relations spin machine has so far been kept secret because a third party has objected to its release under a freedom-of-information application. 

It has also been revealed the department spent $75,000 on top of this earlier this year for one contracted spin doctor from Reputation Pty Ltd to do two-and-a-half months' work.

In an answer to a question on notice, the department says this was the accumulation of the media manager's daily rate of "just" $900 to work full-time and to be available outside business hours seven days a week.  

Senator Penny Wong, the opposition's leader in the Senate, said Education Minister Christopher Pyne "has something to hide" because his department had not yet released the taxpayer-funded report. 

"While sacking public servants and ripping billions of dollars out of schools Mr Pyne has spent up big on a secret review of his department’s spin doctoring," Senator Wong said. 

"Labor will continue to pursue this matter."

A spokesman for Mr Pyne said the government was not going to be lectured by Senator Wong, who "set the bar for profligate spending of taxpayers' funding".

"Senator Wong as Finance Minister authorised the spending of $21 million in the two months before calling an election, or over $400,000 a day, running television commercials advertising a school funding model that hadn't even been nationally agreed by all states and territories," the spokesman said. 

The Education Department called in Reputation Pty Ltd under the $95,000 fixed-price contract at the start of this year to deal with machinery-of-government changes and to write the review on its communications operations.

Details of the $95,000 figure, which involved several weeks' work to audit the process of the department's spin unit, were reported earlier this year.

An answer to a question on notice now says an unnamed "third party" has objected to the release of the report, which was written after three consultants reviewed the department's practices between January 7 and February 21. 

The same answer said the review included 30 in-depth qualitative interviews with a range of internal and external stakeholders and an audit of the communication team's resources and staffing. 

Another contract, for $75,000, was soon signed for the principal of Reputation Pty Ltd to run the department’s communication branch and to start implementing the review's findings.

An Education Department spokesman said the report by Reputation was the subject of an active freedom-of-information request.

"The applicant has not been advised of the outcome of this request," the spokesman said. 

"It would be inappropriate for the department to comment or provide details of the process at this stage."

Details of expenditure across the bureaucracy is being put under huge scrutiny by all sides of politics as the federal government moves ahead with cutting 16,500 Commonwealth public servants nationally.  

8 comments

  • And the secrets,the half-truths and the lies continue.

    The one about the Gonski implementation is a beauty - no mention that the overwhelming majority of the states and territories had signed up to it, and surprise! surprise! the only hold-outs were two incompetent hard-liners of the right who held out only for Canberra-bashing reasons.

    "You have been sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you." 'In the name of the country and for the good of it, GO!.'

    Commenter
    BillR
    Date and time
    June 17, 2014, 9:26AM
    • While you're at it, ask the Education Department why it's kept secret the 1000+ submissions to Kevin 'bible should be taught in state schools' Donnelly's 'independent' curriculum 'review'.

      Commenter
      Stephen
      Date and time
      June 17, 2014, 10:23AM
      • Spin doctoring is the biggest growth industry with this government.

        Commenter
        Good Logic
        Date and time
        June 17, 2014, 10:39AM
        • What, 11am and no stereotypes out excusing the cons and saying it's all Labor's fault?
          Perhaps they've all been buried in the avalanche of dissatisfaction with this mob?

          Commenter
          BillR
          Date and time
          June 17, 2014, 11:04AM
          • Sorry BillR - I have been out of town - but then the article's comments about Penny Wong's "$400,000 a day" says it all anyway so my failure to comment particularly early in the process has no impact on anyone who reads and understands the facts.

            Commenter
            John
            Location
            Canberra
            Date and time
            June 17, 2014, 8:35PM
        • Rambling Syd Rumpole strikes again.

          Commenter
          Hatchet
          Date and time
          June 17, 2014, 11:12AM
          • This type of reckless spending is disgusting, The lack of respect for my tax dollar makes me sick. If they want spin doctors to help there personal political career, they should pay with there own money, I pay tax to help the country, not to help some pollie get re-elected with sneaky marketing tricks.

            Commenter
            bob
            Location
            Kambah
            Date and time
            June 17, 2014, 11:32AM
            • "set the bar for profligate spending of taxpayers' funding". No that would be John Winston Howard who according to the IMF, still holds the record for the most profligate spending of taxpayers money...mostly wasted on pork barrelling. If our governments performed their jobs with integrity, worked for all the people of this nation..not just their party political donors, and stopped their lying and secrecy, there would be little need for such massive waste of public funds on spin-doctoring. This is a disgraceful era of politics, where spin has become more important and more costly than truth! Having to pay spin doctors to cover up mistakes and lies or make unpalatable legislation palatable, is a major sign that our governments have totally lost the plot. In earlier times such entities as Reputation Pty Ltd, were known as tricksters. There's plenty of mythological stories about them.

              Commenter
              PaxUs
              Location
              Austerelia
              Date and time
              June 17, 2014, 11:37AM
              Comments are now closed
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