Auditor-General inquiry into Government advertising

Shadow Treasurer Rob Lucas today welcomed the fact the Auditor-General was conducting an inquiry into the Weatherill Government’s controversial advertising campaigns and would be presenting a special report to Parliament.

In recent evidence to the Budget and Finance Committee the Auditor-General was asked whether Mr Weatherill’s $1.1 million anti Federal Government campaign featuring two pensioners actually breached the Government’s own guidelines.

Mr O’Neill said:

“We are pretty much through the process of reviewing aspects of not only what you have just related to me… So it is well progressed and will be reported on; it is locked in… I am taking seriously these issues and considering them seriously...”

The Auditor-General also indicated his supplementary report to Parliament would include commentary on:

  • Mr Weatherill including his photo in an Adelaide Oval booklet distributed before the election
  • Mr Weatherill including his photo in a Riverbank leaflet distributed before the election
  • Mr Weatherill giving taxpayer-funded inducements such as IPods on his Facebook site
  • The Weatherill Government ignoring his advice that total costs of government advertising campaigns (including research, creative, preparation) should be released in department annual reports

“It is quite clear the Weatherill Government is blatantly breaching its own guidelines through its multimillion dollar advertising campaign,” said Mr Lucas.

Page 5 of the Government’s ‘Marketing Communications and Advertising Guidelines’ makes it clear that ‘government information programs should not be conducted for party political purposes.’

Page 7 of the guidelines state that public funds should not be used for communication when: 

  • A reasonable person could misinterpret the message as being on behalf of a political party or other grouping
  • A political party or other grouping is being disparaged or held up to ridicule

“Any person who sees these TV commercials could only interpret them as being on behalf of a State Labor Government ‘disparaging’ or ‘attacking’ a Federal Liberal Government over budget decisions,” said Mr Lucas.

“Clearly they break the Government’s own guidelines.

“This latest advertising campaign by Mr Weatherill is another outrageous waste of taxpayers’ money at a time when the Government is closing the Repat Hospital, cutting Emergency Departments, and imposing massive increases in ESL on family homes.”