Government under fire for taxpayer funded ads

By Mariam Cheik-Hussein | 8 April 2019
Scott Morrison

The Coalition government is facing scrutiny for delaying calling the election, which Labor claims allows it to spend $600,000 a day on taxpayer funded ads.

Once an election is called, the government enters caretaker mode which means all government advertising spend is reviewed by the departments of Finance, Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Generally, operational campaigns, such as Defence Force recruiting will run, while campaigns featuring politically controversial topics won’t.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten and shadow treasurer Chris Bowen have accused the Prime Minister of avoiding the rules and called on him to set a date.

Bowen claimed that the government’s week delay meant it could spend more than $4 million on campaign advertising.

According to tender documents released by Labor, the government has spent more than $250 million advertising policies and programs since January.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told ABC’s Insiders the government’s spending on election advertising is transparent, but didn't release a figure.

Political advertising is expected to provide a respite for the dulled media agency market, which last month reported its softest advertising demand in almost a decade.

SMI February figures showed total bookings down 8.3% to $482.9 million compared to a record high in the same month in 2018.

Nielsen figures reported Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party has spent more than $27 million on advertising since September.

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