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A government contract worth hundreds of thousands of dollars for a speechwriter has spurred debates and criticism regarding the Labor party's expenditure.

Experienced speechwriter Julianne Stewart was awarded a two-year contract, worth around $300,000 a year, to prepare speeches for government minister Bill Shorten. The move has drawn criticism, especially in light of Services Australia's claim that it was originally able to offer these services in-house, ABC reported.

Senator Linda Reynolds addressed the issued during the Senate estimates, saying, "When Services Australia, who is paying for this contract, is keeping people waiting increasingly longer for crisis payments, for aged care payments, do you think this use of taxpayer's money for an extra speechwriter is appropriate?"

Stewart's LinkedIn page says she is a speechwriter, who has assisted four prime ministers -- Malcolm Turnbull, Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott, and Kevin Rudd. In addition, she collaborated with Qantas CEO Alan Joyce and made contributions to the University of New South Wales.

Services Australia deputy chief executive officer Susie Smith said the department was not able to find an appropriate speechwriter, following which they decided to hire someone at market rate. Even though she said that Stewart was a "direct source contract," Smith didn't clarify who made the final decision.

"Speechwriting, as you will appreciate, is a specialized skill set, and accomplished and available speechwriters remain difficult to source," said Smith.

A spokesman for the opposition, James Stevens, questioned the decision, saying Shorten had given a total of 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," Stevens 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."