Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Party Away Your Health Worries

Four Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars

Thats how much Steve Bracks and his government have spent to celebrate the opening of the new Austin and Mercy hospitals. Amongst the bill for Victorian taxpayers:
  • $15,000 for roving performers and stage acts
  • $9300 for muffins, danishes, slices and other refreshments
  • $15,000 for invitations and flyers
  • $46,000 for Health Minister Bronwyn Pike's Party

Tax Justice Association national director Peter McDonald puts it best:
"You don't need to have 20,000 people at something as a feelgood exercise: all you need is an announcement through the media and everyone will know the new hospital, or whatever, is open."

This isn't the first time that Bracks has used big events to soften the pain for cost blowouts. From Victorian Hansard on 1 March 2006:
"Last April the Premier and the Minister for Transport had Max the Magician, Spaghetti the Clown and Thomas the Tank Engine selling the Spencer Street railway station redevelopment and the fast rail project at a party bash, a pathetic public relations stunt that, based on the good freedom of information work done by the member for Brighton — cost taxpayers at least $170 000, all for a one-day shindig. It was a ridiculous open day when nothing was in fact actually open."

also Railpage:
Despite the many thousands of dollars spent advertising the event, just 4500 people attended the day-long festivities at Spencer St Station in April. As well as clowns, face painters and rides for the children, the publicity stunt featured 10,000 balloons, ribbons, banners, stickers, audio-visual displays and two photographers to record it all.

The Bracks Government has spent $800,000-plus on parties and breakfasts to "sell" troubled major projects to voters and will spend about $5 million more on ads and events leading up to this year's election. Think of the money that could have been spent to retain Victorian doctors.

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