One of the last contentious Senate
Committee reports – at least until the Government loses its majority –
was tabled yesterday. It’s the Finance and Public Administration
Committee’s report into government advertising.
Committee found that government spending is excessive and that the
costs to taxpayers are steadily increasing. The report shows that
expenditure on government information campaigns has climbed gradually
The report reveals that the estimated $55
million spent on the Government’s recent WorkChoices campaign cost as
much as the total government advertising expenditure for 1996-97 (accounting for inflation).
1991-92 and 1995-96, the average yearly advertising expenditure through
the Central Advertising System was $85.6 million. Between 1996-97 and
2003-04, the average yearly expenditure on advertising leapt to $126.75
million – an increase of 48%,” Committee Chair and Labor Senator
Michael Forshaw said.
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“What is of great concern to the
Committee is that these figures reflect only part of the costs involved
and therefore seriously underestimate total expenditure. Because of
inadequacies in disclosure requirements, the figures fail to include
substantial costs involved with design and production, public
relations, market research and evaluation or publication and
The Committee criticised the government for
wasting taxpayer funds on the WorkChoices campaign before the
legislation was even introduced into the parliament. It also lambasted
the campaign for being devoid of genuine information to help citizens
understand the changes proposed under the Government’s workplace
relations reforms, comparing it unfavourably with other government
information campaigns on Super Choices or Keeping the System Fair.
report states: “Expenditure on Commonwealth government advertising has
climbed steadily since 1991-92. Between 1991-92 and 1995-96, the
average yearly advertising expenditure through the Central Advertising
System was $85.6 million. Between 1996-97 and 2003-04, the average
yearly expenditure on advertising was $126.75 million.”
median expenditure over the whole period from 1991-92 to 2003-04 was
$97 million. Expenditure by the Howard government since 1996-97 thus
averages $29.75 million more than the median; expenditure by the
Keating Labor government prior to 1996-97 averaged $11.4 million less
than the median. Excluding the bi-partisan advertising campaigns for
Defence Force Recruitment, the next nine most expensive advertising
campaigns since 1991 have been conducted by the Howard government.”