Govt dept comms staff up 112% in 6 years

The number of public relations, communications, media staff and contractors employed by government departments has grown by at least 112% in the past six years.

Gerry Brownlee says in a media release that there were 238 people employed in these areas six years ago. That had grown to 448 last year and then to 505 by July this year. 

“The government spent $30,498,344 on spin doctor salaries for public relations, communications, and media staff in 2006/7 – in the 2007/8 year that rose by 27% to $38,860,253.” 

Among the increases in the amount paid in salaries Brownlee noted was the Department of Conservation which laid field staff off this year but increased its spend on PR salaries from $560,000 in 2006/7 to $1,100,000 in the 07-08 year – a 96% increase.

The Ministry for the Environment had an 88% increase, from $580,140 to $1,092,484; and Inland Revenue salaries doubled from $913,909 $1,828,476 in the same period.

One of the few good things to come out of the Electoral Finance Act was a very clear warning to government departments that they can’t be doing anything that could be construed as singing the praises of the Labour-led government so what on earth are all these people doing?

I doubt if it’s telling us what we have a right to know because journalists reckon there is an inverse relationship between the number of PR people in an organisation and the ability to get clear, honest and open communication from it.

5 Responses to Govt dept comms staff up 112% in 6 years

  1. Gerry better not spoil it for one of the few right wing journos around.
    I fancy a spell in Wellington.

  2. Colin Lucas says:

    That is unbelievable. I hope that the numbers of spin merchants in government rapidly diminish after the election.

  3. homepaddock says:

    FM – I’m showing my naivety but public service staff are not supposed to let their politics show.

  4. That’s a traditional old-fashioned view, Homepaddock.
    I think neutrality went out under Liarbour with the Clare Curren and Madelaine setchell cases.
    There again, despite the stridency of my views that you see at No Minister, on the job I am fair, neutral and balanced.
    Indeed, I recall priase from my left-wing workmates for a major feature feature on the use of technology by trades unions.
    They thought I would stitch up the unions as a bunch of dinosaurs.
    But no, just because I am a righty, it doesn’t mean that for our paid work we can be our opinions to one side.

  5. I mean we can put our opinions to one side and act neutrally and professionally whatver our opinions are.

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