The West

Claims Barnett has spin doctor army
Ben Wyatt releases parliamentary documents showing the number of people engaged in media, communications, marketing or speechwriting. Picture: Rob Duncan/The West Australian

The number of communications staff employed by the Barnett Government has grown beyond 500, prompting the Opposition to claim it had "an army of spin doctors to produce propaganda".

Shadow Treasurer Ben Wyatt today released parliamentary documents showing the number of people engaged in media, communications, marketing or speechwriting was 529.

Mr Wyatt said that was a 35 per cent increase on the number the Carpenter Labor government employed.

"The Barnett Government is wasting tens of millions of dollars on an army of spin doctors to produce propaganda to support its political agenda," Mr Wyatt said.

"In August 2007 then-Deputy Leader Troy Buswell attacked the use of spin doctors arguing the money 'could be better spent delivering key services'.

"Five years later the number of spin doctors exceeds 500."

Mr Wyatt said the figures, obtained through answers to questions in Parliament, did not include staff employed in government trading enterprises like Western Power, nor external consultants hired for individual campaigns such as the recent "bigger picture" ads.

He repeated Labor's promise to reduce the number of communications staff by 30 per cent should it win government in March.

Treasurer Troy Buswell said Labor was advocating the sacking of public servants who "play a vital role in providing essential information to the public and thousands of departmental employees".

"Which of these people would Labor sack," he said.

"The Fire and Emergency Services Authority staff who work around the clock when fire threatens a community sending out essential information about how to prepare and when to act? The police staff who communicate to the community important messages?

"The State Government has reduced the number of people staffing ministerial offices. The Government has also significantly reduced the amount spent on advertising, as compared to Labor.

"While the State Government announced further savings measures this week, necessitated by the impact on the budget of the drop in commodity prices and the strength of the Australian dollar, we promised no job cuts."

The West Australian

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