In 1989, corruption inquiry commissioner Tony Fitzgerald, QC gave a qualified tick to the use of government media units and press secretaries in his landmark report, which ushered Queensland into an age of accountability.
After an inquiry that included 238 public sitting days and 339 witnesses, his view was that it was both ‘legitimate and necessary’ for ministers, departments and public instrumentalities to employ staff to help keep the public informed. He warned, however, against control and manipulation of information and counselled there was no legitimate justification for politically motivated propaganda funded by taxpayers:
The only justification for press secretaries and media units is that they lead to a community better informed about government and departmental activities. If they fail to do this then their existence is a misuse of public funds, and likely to help misconduct to flourish.