NATIONALS Member for Cowper and Shadow Minister for Regional Communications, Luke Hartsuyker, has panned Federal Government plans to spend $20 million on advertising the National Broadband Network.
He termed the advertising spend "a propaganda campaign" after Tuesday's Budget included the figure to 'improve public understanding, address misconceptions and provide updated information about the National Broadband Network.'
An example of the advertising being used appeared on page 32 of The Coffs Coast Advocate yesterday under the heading 'The National Broadband Network is improving access to healthcare around Australia.'
"This $20 million is not for an information campaign, it's for a political campaign," Mr Hartsuyker said.
"The fact that the Federal Government - and not NBN Co - is allocating the funds confirm that this marketing campaign is all about politics and little about providing genuine information.
"The Government knows that Australians are awake to the waste and mismanagement of the National Broadband Network.
"Regional Australia has been waiting for five years for Labor to address broadband black spots but the NBN is behind time, over budget and the take-up rates are appalling.
"In typical Labor style the Government response is to spend tens of millions of dollars to sell their political message.
"They are drowning under the weight of their carbon tax broken promise and no doubt Minister Conroy hopes this spin can create a welcome diversion."
Mr Hartsuyker has questioned why the Government feels compelled to fund the advertising when its customers are retail telecommunications networks.
NBN Co's $9 billion deal with Telstra includes a clause obligating the network wholesaler to provide a public information campaign on the network.
This latest volley continues an ongoing and wider battle between the Coalition and Labor over the use of taxpayer funds for advertising.
Part of Labor's 2007 election campaign was to slash the Government advertising spend.
That year the Howard Government's tally reached a record $254 million from a total of $1.8 billion spent in the full period after being elected in 1995.
Most recently, the Gillard Labor Government spent $148.7 million on advertising in 2011, a rise of $10.7 million on the previous election year due to a spend on the five-yearly Census and health campaigns targeting obesity and smoking.