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Government Advertising

If elected in March 2018, a Marshall Liberal Government will impose strict controls on the use of taxpayer funded advertising.

The Problem

Taxpayers’ money should only be used to provide government services needed by the community.

It shouldn’t be misused or abused in paying for political advertising.

But the Weatherill Government has been doing this more and more as the election approaches, wasting millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money that could have been used instead on improving education, health and other important services.

Recent examples have included extensive television, radio and newspaper advertising of the government’s energy plan, opening of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital and jobs programs.

It is one thing to use taxpayers’ money to provide basic facts the public needs about the availability of government services. It is quite another to misuse taxpayers’ money on blatantly political advertising in an attempt to cling to power and explain away failed policies.

In 2015, the Auditor-General reported to Parliament that “public funds should not be used for communications where... the image or voice of a politician is included within the advertising.”

But the Government’s current splurge of $2.6 million to advertise its energy plan has included many television and radio advertising spots that have featured the image and voice of the Premier.

The Government has been ignoring its own guidelines which state: ‘Public funds should not be used for communication where the activity could be interpreted as political advertising.’

As former Labor Premier Mike Rann once said: “whenever a politician’s face is in Government advertising, the objective is political.”

The State Liberals' Plan

If elected in March 2018, a Marshall Liberal Government will impose strict controls on the use of taxpayer funded advertising.

Specifically we will ensure that:

  • government advertising is deemed political expenditure when it mentions the name, displays the image or uses the voice of a person who is a Member of Parliament
  • any misuse of taxpayers’ funds for political advertising will be included under the Electoral Spending Cap which regulates spending by political parties for election campaign purposes.

Under our amendments, government spending of taxpayers’ money can be investigated the Electoral Commissioner.

If the Electoral Commissioner finds there is a misuse of funds, the spending will come out of the public funding the party receives for election campaigning or it will have to be repaid to Treasury.

There are legitimate reasons for government advertising of information needed by the public and such advertising will be unaffected by our legislation.

Members of Parliament will also be able to continue using their electoral allowances in the standard way for communication with their constituents.

Taxpayer spending on political advertising does not pass the pub test. South Australian taxpayers have spoken and should be reassured their taxes aren't being spent on frivolous advertising campaigns.

We are introducing private member’s legislation in a bid to bring an immediate halt to it. If Labor refuses to support our legislation, it will be reintroduced by a Marshall Liberal Government immediately after the election.