How not to answer questions in parliament

Junior federal minister Stuart Robert today showed how not to answer questions about integrity and, in the process, damaged the government.

Three times the Opposition asked Robert to define the actual capacity he attended a ming industry function in China. 

Because the government has referred the matter to the head of the Public Service, Robert used the “out” clause of “the matter is under investigation, or lack of words to that effect.

By inference, Robert has given the impression he could be guilty, simply because he hasn’t provided an open and full answer.

It’s the age-old wrong PR tack to take: avoid an answer until you’re in the clear … or not. 

All well and good if Robert is hedging his bets but, as I said, he has damaged the government by not being up-front. 

See his answers here:


Australia vulnerable to “desperate” world, says Salt

Western Australia could find itself at the centre of growing international tension over its mineral wealth. And governments aren’t prepared.

Leading Australian demographer Bernard Salt made the prediction at a forum of WA Vocational Educational Trainers in Perth this week.

“The world wants and needs what we have, and there’s going to be a made scramble for all of these things,” Salt said.

“We have what the world wants. That makes us valuable, but also vulnerable.”

Alarmingly, the scramble will come sooner than later.

“Most people are predicting this will happen around 2070, but I think it will come by 2020,” said Salt, who was addressing 200 VET industry representatives in a forum sponsored by the Department of Workforce Training and Development.

“For me, this is the biggest issue facing Australia, and governments are doing nothing about it.

“Look at where our military presence is. We have Lavarack Barracks in Townsville. It was built in the sixties. What’s it protecting now? We have Robertson Barracks in Darwin, which was expanded during the East Timor crisis.

“But there’s no military assets of note between Darwin and Perth – an area that contains pretty much all of Australia’s wealth – about $43 million worth of gas and oil.

“The Chinese have already demonstrated they need the raw materials. Gorgon was about China shoring up its assets.”

Salt was quietly scathing of government inaction, saying while we had aligned ourselves militarily with the US, we expect our financial support to come from China.

“China is now the emerging power, but it remains to be seen how governments deal with the dilemma.”

Salt called for a massive boost to infrastructure, including a larger military presence with at least 5000 soldiers, and a regional town of 150,000.

“It only makes sense to put the military hardware where you are most exposed.

“This is the biggest issue confronting us.”

Sinister side to Chinese PR

Conformation today that the Chinese central party propaganda department stopped reporting on the poisoned powdered milk (see previous post). The reason? The Olympics were on and they wanted to present a harmonious country. Meantime, children died.

No amount of PR can save the Chinese government over this disgraceful episode. But you can bet they’ll give it a try.

Really, they are PR amateurs, as was highlighted by their release of an interview with their space-walking astronauts a few days ago. Only one problem: the spacecraft hadn’t left.

This could be seen as a joke, but highlights the manipulative, sinister side of the Chinese regime.

As for the Games, they are now but a memory, as the city returns to its former polluted state.

A big thank you, International Olympic Committee for committing the world’s athletes to a sham which was supposed to contribute to change in China but merely reinforced its standing as having one of the world’s most deceitful, cruel and heartless regimes.

PR at the PR Lab (

NZ company just as negligent in Chinese milk powder crisis

If ever there was a PR crisis, it was last week’s contaminated milk powder scandal in China.

More than 13,000 babies were hospitalised after drinking the powder, which was laced with the industrial chemical melamine. More than 52,000 children, all under two, became ill.

The Chinese company which manufactures the power, Sanlu, is in partnership with NZ dairy giant Fonterra.

From a PR perspective, the Chinese company’s responses (or lack of) were pathetic, and not helped by the Central Propaganda Department issuing a directive to hush-up the bungle.

The problems first surfaced on 14 August. As reported in the Chinsese people’s Daily, Sanlu did not issue an apology until 15 September. Unbelievable.

Fonterra should also be called to account. It says it urged its partner to go public and issue a total recall as soon as it knew of the poisoning. However, why didn’t Fonterra go public when Sanlu delayed its response? Certainly NZ Prime Minister Helen Clark said they should have (see ABC News).

Clearly both companies are equally as responsible when the issue of public safety is involved. More than 430 children have kidney stones as a result. Four died.

More PR at