Home Entertainment Bill Shorten hired a speechwriter for $600,000 of taxpayer cash despite only...

Bill Shorten hired a speechwriter for $600,000 of taxpayer cash despite only giving 28 speeches since 2022

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Government Services Minister Bill Shorten had a personal speechwriter on a reported $300,000 a year contract for two years, a Senate estimates hearing has been told.

The committee heard an ‘experienced’ and ‘versatile’ communications professional was awarded a $300,000 contract for a year by government agency Services Australia to write speeches for Mr Shorten, which was later extended to two years.

Services Australia deputy chief executive officer Susie Smith, who did not confirm the cost of the agreement, said the agency had not prepared any speeches for the minister ‘in the last 12 months’.

Bill Shorten hired the speechwriter at the huge sum of $300,000 a year for two years despite already having staff in his department that could do the job

Bill Shorten hired the speechwriter at the huge sum of $300,000 a year for two years despite already having staff in his department that could do the job

Liberal senator Linda Reynolds asked why Mr Shorten, who has access to senior department staff to prepare speeches, would need a speechwriter.

‘Do you know why this extra $600,000 contract was needed?’ Senator Reynolds asked.

‘I can’t answer that,’ Ms Smith replied.

Fellow Liberal Senator Maria Kovacic said it ‘appears’ Mr Shorten had personally requested the speechwriter despite the agency having 201 staff employed in its communications unit, including speechwriters.

Liberal Senator Maria Kovacic said it 'appears' Mr Shorten had personally requested the speechwriter

Liberal Senator Maria Kovacic said it ‘appears’ Mr Shorten had personally requested the speechwriter

Linda Reynolds said in the senate estimates hearing she was 'in the wrong game' referring to the speechwriter's paypacket

Linda Reynolds said in the senate estimates hearing she was ‘in the wrong game’ referring to the speechwriter’s paypacket

She said it was ‘unbelievable’ after Ms Smith confirmed the usual pay packet for a speechwriter considered to be among the ‘best-of-the-best’ was roughly $140,000 a year.

‘To your knowledge has the department ever suggested to a minister, previously, that they should go out and get a $300,000 per annum contract for a speechwriter to assist them?’ Senator Kovacic asked.

‘Not to my knowledge,’ Ms Smith said.

‘We’re clearly in the wrong business,’ Senator Reynolds later exclaimed.

The opposition’s spokesman on government waste reduction James Stevens blasted Mr Shorten for hiring Julieanne Stewart.

Julianne Stewart was hired by Services Australia to write Mr Shorten's speeches

Julianne Stewart was hired by Services Australia to write Mr Shorten’s speechesĀ 

He said the department’s website showed Mr Shorten had given 28 speeches since assuming office in 2022.

‘If Ms Stewart wrote every single one of these speeches it would equate to over $22,000 per speech,’ Mr Steven Said .

‘Australians struggling to pay their ever-increasing mortgages, rents, electricity bills and groceries would be appalled at their government spending their taxpayer money in this way.’

A spokesperson from Mr Shorten’s office was contacted for comment.



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