A Mistake In A Media Release From Federal Treasury Shows How Much Government Is Run By Template These Days

He wasn’t there and didn’t say it: Treasury mistakenly sent our a media release in Senator Arthur Sinodinos’ name, even though he stood aside as assistant treasurer

The Australian Treasury has apologised for issuing a media release this morning in the name of suspended assistant treasured Senator Arthur Sinodinos, who stepped aside from the role in the wake of a NSW corruption inquiry into political donations.

Perhaps Treasury knows something the rest of us don’t and Senator Sinodis, long regarded as one of the most honorable members of parliament, is set for a comeback, but for now, finance minister Mathias Corman is filling in as assistant treasurer.

Here’s the Treasury apology in full:

Earlier today, Treasury mistakenly released a media release from Senator the Hon Arthur Sinodinos AO. This error was made by the Treasury.

The media release has now been issued correctly in the name of the Minister for Finance and Acting Assistant Treasurer, Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann.

Treasury apologises to all its stakeholders for this error and the confusion it may have caused. We would like to assure you that errors of this nature will not occur again.

Jan Harris
A/g Secretary

The mistake is a reminder that government management of the media is often done by template, with all politicians making sure they’re “on message” even if that means you can end up with a dozen politicians say exactly the same thing in a press release in their electorates.

A classic example was revealed by ABC’s Mediawatch when, a decade ago, Senator Bill Heffernan spoke out in favour of the Australian flag, saying

September 3 will mark the 102nd anniversary of the day on which our flag was first flown as a symbol of our national unity. It is appropriate to respect our national emblems and to fly the flag as it has flown for over a century. Our flag has accompanied brave Australians in war as it has escorted worthy Australian competitors on the sporting field.

The next day, the then deputy PM, John Anderson was quoted in a media release saying, you guessed it: “September 3 will mark the 102nd anniversary of the day on which our flag was first flown as a symbol of our national unity etc…”

Several National Party politicians also repeated the now familiar refrain.

It led to this response from Anderson’s press secretary:

Media Watch deserves its own award for finally stumbling upon the concept of the “shell” press release which has legitimately been used by all sides of politics, both here and abroad, for the past three decades.

Fair enough. Just be careful who you let collect the shells.

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