The Newfoundland and Labrador government spent several thousand dollars last week on a news conference to promote how much more open it will be about managing taxpayers' dollars.

Figures posted on the government's website show that the 25-minute event cost $4,701, with the largest amount being a $2,326 bill paid to provide audio.

The government also spent $1,000 on putting the news conference webcast online and $250 for photography.

The government noted the five banners that together cost $1,125 will be used at other events.

Liberal MHA Christopher Mitchelmore raised the issue in the house of assembly on Wednesday.

"Why would the Minister of Public Engagement think it wise to spend thousands of taxpayers' dollars announcing information that was already publicly available?" Mitchelmore asked.

'Beginning a process'

Steve Kent, the minister responsible for the Office of Public Engagement, said the key for government is engaging the public.

"It is unfortunate the member opposite continues not to understand the fact that we are beginning a process," Kent said.

"We have launched the pillars of our plan, and we will now, over the next number of months, seek public input so that we design the best possible open government action plan to move this government forward."

Mitchelmore was not persuaded, adding that the government's practice has been "to tell people first and listen later."

That drew a rebuke from Premier Tom Marshall.

"I think it is incredible the honourable member does not get it," said Marshall, adding government wants the public to "get back to us so that our decisions can be better, and our policies, our services, and our programs will be better."