THE Baillieu Government has spent more than $2 million in less than a year keeping tabs on what is said about it in the media.
Despite Premier Ted Baillieu committing to cut bureaucratic costs, 10 government departments racked up the huge bill keeping track of articles in the press in country and regional Victoria, the Herald Sun reports.
Documents obtained under Freedom of Information by the State Opposition show media monitoring costs topped $2 million from December 2010, when the Government came in, to November 22 last year.
The bill was for press clippings, social media monitoring, media analysis and extracts of media briefings in the press, radio and TV.
The Justice Department ran up the biggest bill, costing taxpayers $407,000. The Department of Business Innovation submitted a bill for more than $404,000.
The media monitor bill is just shy of the $2.5 million Labor spent for the entire 2009-10 financial year.
With a tight Budget looming, Opposition scrutiny of government spokesman Martin Pakula said it was "a case of very odd priorities".
"This Government has slashed thousands of jobs and it looks like there are more to come in the Budget," he said.
"Yet they're happy to spend millions monitoring what people say about them."
A spokesman for Mr Baillieu, Paul Price, defended the costs.
"Media monitoring is a legitimate service for governments of all political persuasions in order to monitor issues and inform policies that are relevant to the community," he said. "The Coalition is committed to ensuring all taxpayer funds are spent prudently."
Mr Price said the Department of Premier and Cabinet had established a committee to "look at reviewing the whole-of-government media monitoring practices and expenditure".
Read more at the Herald Sun.