PIAA slams Rudd Government’s print cut

The Rudd government has drastically cut the printing allowance of parliament members following an investigation that the system is being widely misused.


Special Minister of State Joe Ludwig has cut the annual allowance from $100,000 to $75,000 for MPs and from $16,667 to $12,500 for senators. Prior to the Rudd administration’s election, MPs had been entitled to $150,000 a year.


Ludwig also restricted use of the allowance to parliamentary and electorate duties and banned it for electoral purposes, including letterbox flyers and how-to-vote cards. All purchases made with the allowance must now also be published on the internet.


A report from the Auditor-General’s department found that almost 75 per cent of printed material ”represented items at varying levels of risk of being outside entitlement”.


However, the report found that this misuse was due more to the ambiguity of guidelines and poor administration by the Finance Department rather than intentional misuse, prompting Printing Industries chief executive Philip Andersen (pictured) to condemn the government’s response.


“In other words, if the process if wrong, fix the process, don’t reduce the politicians’ ability to communicate effectively with their constituents,” Andersen said.


“Print is the most versatile communication tool available to politicians to effectively and retentively get their message across. But if it’s not being used correctly, then remove the ambiguities from the guidelines and provide some training for politicians on how to use printed communication successfully.”


“They need to learn what the power of print can do for them, but they also need to learn how to communicate with their constituents in a more informative way that isn’t just confined to electioneering.”


Andersen went as far as offering to create a “print awareness course” to help politicians effectively use print to communicate with the electorate.


“If the Labor Government is going to fulfil its promise of greater accountability and transparency then it’s going to need to communicate consistently with the electorate,” he said. “It needs to be innovative with its communications if it wants people to understand and appreciate its important messages.


“Our industry has technology and innovative processes that can be used to enhance government communication, making it attractive and individual and increasing its effectiveness.


“But you need to know how to use it and the best way of doing this is to talk to the printing industry; we would be more than willing to help.”


Independent senator Nick Xenophon today called for the allowance to be lowered even further.


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