Scottie from marketing called in Russel from marketing for help. And didn’t that go well?
Russel Howcroft is a former George Patts CEO; Executive General Manager of Network Ten, who moved to PwC as Chief Creative Officer shortly before the network went into voluntary administration; and, a star of the TV program The Gruen Transfer.
Now it has been revealed, as the tabloids say, that he was called in by the PM’s Department for a workshop which was to address the Government’s marketing. This was in December. The PM didn’t attend – perhaps not because he thought he knew everything about marketing anyone could know – but because he was heading off to Hawaii.
What the workshop cost and what it covered is unknown. Whether it was effective or not is sadly well-known. The latter we know and the former might emerge – although this is doubtful – in either Senate Estimates or from an FOI application. Although, given the riches PwC derives from lucrative government contracts one would hope that it was a pro bono effort.
As for its effectiveness, the bushfire disaster handling is as good an indicator as any. The sports rort, however, has been handled with typical Morrison cunning and obfuscation and by the time you read this Bridget McKenzie will probably have been defenestrated for breaching Ministerial guidelines while the PM keeps insisting there is nothing to see here on the sports rorts and promising to dish out more money to silence the critics. In the real world this is called offering an inducement.
In the meantime the Morrison ‘cunning Blackadder plan’ on sports rorts may come unstuck as more and details emerges in leaks and stories from unsuccessful applicants which expose how the needy were denied and the well-off subsidised in line with classic neo-liberal philosophy.
The situation will be compounded by emerging evidence of other rorts such as the Paladin PNG contract – in this case with potentially significant legal implications even if Minister Dutton sools the Australian Federal Police on to the whistle blower rather than the alleged offenders.
Meanwhile, while one waits breathlessly on the possibility that Mr Howcroft’s advice has some impact on the PM’s marketing efforts, there doesn’t seem much evidence that it is working so far.
Indeed, as Mr Howcroft said on being appointed to PwC: “If businesses are to achieve better than expected results, they need to harness the commercial power of creativity. Creativity in all its forms needs to be nurtured, promoted and championed.”
So far the only Morrison creativity in the marketing area seems to have incurred the wrath of auditors in New Zealand and Australia where he headed tourism operations. Moreover, while Mr Howcroft is well known, industry figures suggest he is not as well-known for originality. On the other hand Morrison wouldn’t be looking for originality given the tedious repetitions of his obfuscatory talking points and answers in between some tightly controlled anger.
Also meanwhile, readers may remember that the Morrison Government employed empathetic community consultants to assist with getting the Inland Rail project up and running.
That doesn’t seem to be going that well either.
The ABC reported that at public hearings in Queensland about the project the Senate Committee chair, Senator Glen Sterle said that there was a lack of transparency in ARTC’s consultation.
The local Goondiwindi Mayor, Graeme Scheu, said while he was supportive of Inland Rail, it was unbelievable to put a major freight rail corridor through one of “Australia’s largest floodplains”.
“I myself have lived in Goondiwindi since 1978 and I have not spoken to one man, woman or child who believes this to be the correct decision,” Cr Scheu said.
Cr Scheu said out-of-date flood mapping was used by the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) when devising the route.
Senator Sterle was quoted by the ABC as saying: “If a deputy prime minister or decision-maker sat in this hall today with 300 people, there is no way you could leave this town as an elected minister of the Crown and walk away and think your department has got it right.”
An ARTC spokesman said the inquiry would help them to explain the work that was being done.
“The Senate Inquiry is an important opportunity to hear different perspectives about the project,” the ARTC spokesman said.
“We appreciate the opportunity to share that detail with the wider community.”
And as we all know such sentences can only be uttered by someone who is determined to do absolutely nothing about the problem – just like the Morrison protestations about climate change – whatever advice Mr Howcroft provided PM&C with.
Note: The link about the Howcroft story is to the Daily Mail (not a site to be cited under normal circumstances but because the AFR story is behind a paywall).
Noel Turnbull is retired and blogs at http://noelturnbull.com/blog/