Media agencies respond to NSW Budget

Jason Pollock
By Jason Pollock | 20 September 2023
Jamie Davies on Unsplash.

The NSW Budget for 2023-24 has been delivered, the first budget since Labor’s election in March, with the state government prioritising education, housing, healthcare, transport and renewable energy.

In the overview of the Budget, NSW treasurer Daniel Mookhey said while economic activity in New South Wales has broadly rebounded following COVID-19, the benefits of increased economic activity are not being enjoyed equally and the outlook is challenging.

"Income per person is not expected to grow any faster than inflation in the short-term. Family budgets are under pressure and the average household’s spending is falling," he said.

Taz Papoulias, head of media at Murmur-Group, said the most alarming thing from the reveal of the Budget is that there is no talk of efficiency or wastage. 

"Public service funding will grow by 15% compared to the start of Covid, and with a new treasury unit seeking to clawback some $200 million in what they call “consultants”, it paints a picture of recouping from agencies and third parties to cover public funding top ups," he said.

"$22.5mill was spent on advertising in the 2019 federal election - $3.6mill was spent by major parties in March 2023 alone. 

"With an average of 25% of media being wasted, predominantly through large marketing agency inefficiencies (Government still thinks only big agencies can handle their media) - it begs to differ why more independent agencies are not granted Government contracts when we focus on wastage and inefficiencies."

Taz Papoulias

Papoulias (pictured right) said that's over $6 million of taxpayer dollars that could have been managed more efficiently in just two campaigns.

"Add the fact that collectively independents have more awards than multinational media players and charge ⅓ the cost to retain - the Australian tax dollar goes much further," he said.

"Given small business is the heart of the Australian economy & tax revenue, I believe this is a prime opportunity to mandate an allocation of spend to small Australian owned businesses across all Government outsourced industries ..the same way we pushed for male/female employment opportunities.

"Call me crazy."

Emilia Chambers, head of strategy at The Pistol, said the NSW budget overall is a safe, tactically focused but mostly modest budget for the state.

"There are some big wins for public sector workers, with significant wage increases set for nurses, paramedics, firefighters, teachers and other public sector workers," she said.

"In addition to this, more than 1,000 nurses and midwives will be moving from temporary or casual contracts to permanent contracts, resulting in increased job security and economic confidence. 

"Parents with young children also benefit from the budget handed down, with a combination of preschool fee relief, commitment to building 100 new preschool centers' and trialing increasing daily hours which are critical in helping parents return to work. By supporting parents returning to work, the state can benefit from closing skill gaps, especially in education and health that are female dominated sectors, and households will benefit from additional income to help ease cost of living pressures."

Emilia Chambers

Chambers (pictured right) said that while these commitments in the budget deserve recognition, the overall impact the budget will have on addressing the cost of living crisis will be modest.

"Higher energy rebates for low income households and seniors, toll relief for drivers and an expanded first home buyers’ assistance scheme, will help ease pressures but not to a level that would see a significant impact," she said.

"Having said that, any initiative that results in freeing up household budgets has the potential to positively impact on businesses, especially the retail sector, due to increased discretionary spending. The timing of the NSW budget is also a positive for the retail sector, with many brands gearing up for the Black Friday sales period, arguably the most important period in the retail calendar.

"With more money in wallets, retailers will be vying for a portion of this increase but it remains to be seen whether wallets will be opening more in stores, or instead reserved for mortgages, rent and other high pressure costs."


Chris Parker, CEO at Awaken, said the NSW Budget offers a mixed bag.

"There is an effort to boost consumer confidence, with a focus on public service workers, first-time homebuyers, motorists, and low-income families, which could lead to increased spending, hopefully providing a favourable boost for advertisers in the coming year," he said.

In terms of the positives, Parker said focuses on regional and Western Sydney, infrastructure/real estate and digital transformation stood out for him.

"The strong emphasis on developing regional NSW, from infrastructure to education, signals a potential shift of advertising focus," he said.

"There is potential for a NSW push into campaigns tailored to regional audiences, tapping into localised content.

"With Western Sydney getting a considerable budget allocation, we might well witness a surge in hyper-localised advertising campaigns, especially related to real estate, aged care, education, and transportation.Supplied: Chris Parker

"The government is investing in housing and infrastructure, which could lead to a potential for increased advertising in property. Affordable housing could be a new advertising niche.

"The transformation of the Bankstown rail line into a driverless line might be a hint towards a more technologically advanced NSW and may hopefully herald the start of a larger tech investment in the state. 

Parker (pictured right) said announcements (or lack thereof) on tourism, EVs and sports and arts weren't so positive from his perspective.

"The budget cuts to Destination NSW and tourism initiatives may lead to a reduction in state-sponsored tourism campaigns." he said.

"Notably there was an absence of subsidies for EV's, which may temporarily dip the popularity of EVs in NSW.

"With shelved plans for Penrith Stadium and cuts to arts and cultural programs, sports and arts in NSW may see a decrease in advertising spend in the next year."

Parker said the budget reflects the Government's intent to balance economic revival, social welfare, and fiscal duties.

"While certain sectors like arts, sports, and tourism may face short-term challenges, overall, the budget's emphasis on infrastructure, housing, and regional development can open new avenues to advertisers and agencies," he said.

"The next year will be all about adaptability and evolving consumer sentiments and confidence dips and improves. 


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