Taxpayers funded $174m in government advertising last financial year | Australia news


Australians were inundated with $174.1m in taxpayer-funded government advertising in the last financial year, according to new finance department figures.

The total – revealed in the department’s annual report – included $156m for major advertising campaigns, many of which advertised policies central to the Coalition’s re-election pitch, and $18.1m for non-campaign ads, such as those spruiking job vacancies, tenders and public notices.

The $174.1m price tag is a massive increase on the $100.1m spent in 2016-17 and $157m in 2017-18 but is still not a record – that dubious honour goes to the $174.7m in the 2015-16 financial year, another election year.

The figures count the cost of media placement for campaigns that cost $250,000 or more but exclude smaller campaigns, the cost of consultants, market research and creative. The finance department also generally excludes the 10% goods and services tax in its reporting of ad spending.

In its annual report the employment department declared that it spent $14.1m on its jobs campaign – which ran from November to March – and $4.3m for its small business campaign – which ran from February to April. When research, public relations costs and smaller campaigns are included the department spent $20m in total.

Other campaigns that ran before the May election included the $16m infrastructure department campaign advertising the government’s 10-year infrastructure package, and more than $18m spent by the treasury, mostly to advertise tax changes.

In August the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) released a report which found the true cost of government advertising was $210m a year on average between 2010-11 and 2017-18.

The ANAO calculated in 2017-18 ad spending totalled $225.5m when the cost of consultants and other services ($46m) and GST ($20.5m) was added to media placement ($159m).

The ANAO found the environment department spent $27.2m on the Powering Forward campaign spruiking its energy policies from September 2017 to April 2019 including $11m in the two months before the federal election, despite repeated warnings the campaign was proving ineffective.

In its annual report the department revealed it spent $18.5m on that campaign in 2018-19, contributing to a total of $21.9m spent on advertising and market research.

The biggest spender was defence, which according to its annual report spent $59.8m on advertising and market research in 2018-19, down from $76.4m in 2017-18.

In its annual report the home affairs department declared $8.8m in market research and advertising for the “border watch information campaign” and the “anti-people smuggling communication campaign”.

The social services department declared it had spent a total of $9.3m on creative agencies, market research and advertising, of which the $6.1m spent on the “stop it at the start” campaign against domestic violence was the biggest item.

The Australian Trade and Investment Commission (formerly Austrade) declared it spent a total of $8.3m including $7.8m on market research, mostly for monthly surveys of national and international visitors.

The Department of Communications and the Arts spent $7.8m in total, including $5.9m on the national online safety awareness campaign.

Departments with lower spending included the agriculture department ($1.5m), foreign affairs and trade ($1.5m), veterans affairs ($1.1m) and industry, innovation and science ($0.4m).

In August the shadow infrastructure minister, Catherine King, said the Coalition had spent a total of $30m on an infrastructure “advertising binge” before the last two elections while “too many vital road and rail projects have been put off on the never never”.

In January Scott Morrison defended the government’s advertising spending, telling reporters in Brisbane it was “entirely appropriate for Australians to understand what their government is doing”.

In 2013 Morrison criticised Labor, accusing them of running a “flailing campaign … propped up using taxpayer funds” in a bid to stay in government.



Source link Finance News Australia

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