'Rudd, a control freak': Australian Opposition

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Sydney, Dec 21 (UNI) The Australian federal Opposition has accused Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of being a ''control freak'' because he insisted that media releases from government bodies first be checked by his department.

Organisations like the CSIRO were told to have their releases cleared by the Prime Minister's office, but the Government denies it was a vetting process, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

Terming the directive ''censorship'', former Howard government minister Tony Abbott said, ''It seems like an early exercise in hyper-control by the new Prime Minister's office.

''A lot of people said before the election that Kevin Rudd would turn out to be a bit of a control freak and this seems to be an interesting suggestion that those fears were quite well grounded,'' he charged.

However, a former public service commissioner, Andrew Podger, said the directive from the head of the Industry Department appeared to be reasonable, but should be reviewed over the next 12 months.

''I think it's too early to assume that an action to ensure better understanding, consistency of the new Government's strategic policies is an attack on their independence. But I think it is something you just want to keep an eye on, because it can be a balancing act and we have seen over the years some intrusion on the independence of the public service,'' he quipped.

UNI

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