- Parliamentary Business
- Senators & Members
- News & Events
- About Parliament
- Visit Parliament
PREVENTING THE MISUSE OF GOVERNMENT ADVERTISING BILL 2010
- Parl No.
- Question No.
Brown, Sen Bob
- System Id
Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Table Of ContentsDownload Current Hansard View/Save XML
Previous Fragment Next Fragment
- Start of Business
- GOVERNOR-GENERAL’S SPEECH
MATTERS OF PUBLIC INTEREST
- Blessed Mary MacKillop
- Radioactive Waste Management
- Emissions Trading Scheme
- Senate Select Committee on Agricultural and Related Industries: Report on the Incidence and Severity of Bushfires Across Australia
- MINISTERIAL ARRANGEMENTS
- DISTINGUISHED VISITORS
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
(Abetz, Sen Eric, Evans, Sen Chris, Evans, Sen Chris (Leader of the Government in the Senate))
(Crossin, Sen Trish, Wong, Sen Penny)
Building the Education Revolution Program
(Mason, Sen Brett, Evans, Sen Chris)
Kakadu National Park
(Brown, Sen Bob, Conroy, Sen Stephen)
Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers
(Fifield, Sen Mitchell, Evans, Sen Chris)
(Sterle, Sen Glenn, Sherry, Sen Nick)
(Cash, Sen Michaelia, Carr, Sen Kim)
(Fielding, Sen Steve, Ludwig, Sen Joe)
(Boswell, Sen Ron, Wong, Sen Penny)
(Bilyk, Sen Catryna, Conroy, Sen Stephen)
- Gillard Government
- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE: TAKE NOTE OF ANSWERS
- LAW AND JUSTICE LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (IDENTITY CRIMES AND OTHER MEASURES) BILL 2010
- SERVICE AND EXECUTION OF PROCESS AMENDMENT (INTERSTATE FINE ENFORCEMENT) BILL 2010
- AVIATION CRIMES AND POLICING LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2010
- CRIMES LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2010
- WATER EFFICIENCY LABELLING AND STANDARDS AMENDMENT BILL 2010
- NATIONAL MEASUREMENT AMENDMENT BILL 2010
- CONVENTION ON BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
- NATIONAL CARERS WEEK
- POKER MACHINE (REDUCED LOSSES—INTERIM MEASURES) BILL 2010
- RADIOACTIVE WASTE
- ASYLUM SEEKERS
OMBUDSMAN AMENDMENT (EDUCATION OMBUDSMAN) BILL 2010
COMMONWEALTH COMMISSIONER FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE BILL 2010
COMMONWEALTH RADIOACTIVE WASTE MANAGEMENT (REPEAL AND CONSEQUENTIAL AMENDMENT) BILL 2010
ANTI-TERRORISM LAWS REFORM BILL 2010
FAMILIES, HOUSING, COMMUNITY SERVICES AND INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS AND OTHER LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (RESTORATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION ACT) BILL 2010
BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY (RESTORING WORKPLACE RIGHTS) BILL 2010
ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION AND BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION AMENDMENT (PROHIBITION OF SUPPORT FOR WHALING) BILL 2010
SAFE CLIMATE (ENERGY EFFICIENT NON-RESIDENTIAL BUILDINGS SCHEME) BILL 2010
RENEWABLE ENERGY AMENDMENT (FEED-IN-TARIFF FOR ELECTRICITY) BILL 2010
- AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY (SELF-GOVERNMENT) AMENDMENT (DISALLOWANCE AND AMENDMENT POWER OF THE COMMONWEALTH) BILL 2010
- PREVENTING THE MISUSE OF GOVERNMENT ADVERTISING BILL 2010
- RESTORING TERRITORY RIGHTS (VOLUNTARY EUTHANASIA LEGISLATION) BILL 2010
- MARRIAGE EQUALITY AMENDMENT BILL 2010
- ASYLUM SEEKERS
- EVIDENCE AMENDMENT (JOURNALISTS’ PRIVILEGE) BILL 2010
- JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE ON MIGRATION
- MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE
- AUDITOR-GENERAL’S REPORTS
- GOVERNOR-GENERAL’S SPEECH
- QUESTIONS ON NOTICE
Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Senator BOB BROWN (Leader of the Australian Greens) (4:15 PM) —I present the explanatory memorandum and I move:
That this bill be now read a second time.
I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.
The speech read as follows—
This bill was introduced by the Australian Greens in the 42nd Parliament. The following second reading speech reflects the debate at the time of the bill’s original introduction.
The Preventing the Misuse of Government Advertising Bill 2010 will address the growing public concern around government expenditure on advertising campaigns which have electoral or party political content. History shows that the use of millions of dollars of taxpayer funds for advertising campaigns which are clearly political in nature has been adopted practice of governments of both political persuasions. This Bill will ensure that governments in the future will be constrained by legislation to comply with an accountability framework when seeking to deliver advertising campaigns in excess of $250,000.
Criticism of the use of government advertising for allegedly political purposes goes back to at least as far as the early 1990s. In her 2004 book The Persuaders: Inside the Hidden Machine of Political Advertising Dr Sally Young notes that in 1993, the Coalition attacked the Keating government’s $3.5 million Medicare advertising campaign as ‘blatant electioneering’ and ‘ALP propaganda’. It is well documented that there is a ‘spike’ in government advertising in the pre-election period. A report from the National Audit Office in 1998 noted that pre-election ‘spikes’ in government campaign advertising expenditure before the 1990, 1993, 1996 and 1998 federal elections.
In 1998 the Auditor-General developed advertising guidelines in the wake of widespread criticism of the Howard government’s tax advertising campaign which was screened just before the federal election campaign. The Howard government ignored those guidelines for a decade and continued the practice of using public funds for government advertising campaigns which were generally agreed to contain party political content. The Rudd government came to power after the 2007 federal election with a strong commitment to address this ‘long term cancer on our democracy’. However, the recent controversy over the government’s decision to spend $38.5 million on an advertising campaign to explain the new mining tax proposal highlights the need to address this important issue in legislation.
The Bill establishes a framework for accountability of expenditure on government information and advertising campaigns. It sets out a process for all campaigns with a budget in excess of $250,000, which provides for comprehensive and continuous review of these campaigns by the Auditor-General, and a full transparency and reporting mechanism by the relevant Minister and the Auditor-General to allow scrutiny of the parliament.
The Auditor-General will assess and review the information and advertising campaign against the Guidelines set out in the Schedule of the Bill. The Schedule outlines the principles and guidelines to govern the expenditure, material, implementation and delivery of campaigns. The Guidelines are based on those issues by the Department of Finance and Deregulation in July 2008 and incorporate key recommendations made by the Auditor-General in the review of the guidelines conducted this year.
The Guidelines set out provisions for the development of material to meet specific objectives including the requirement for material to be relevant to government responsibilities; to be presented in an objective, fair and accessible manner; to be produced and distributed in an efficient, effective and relevant manner, with due regard to accountability; to comply with legal requirement and that material must not be directed at promoting party political interests.
Most importantly, the Bill ensures that only information and advertising campaigns related to national emergencies can be exempted from the accountability process. In that case, the Minister can seek an exemption for compliance with the guidelines from the Cabinet Secretary to undertake an advertising campaign. However, there is a provision that the exemption expires when the national emergency ends and that, as soon as practicable after the exemption is granted, the Minister must seek a review of the campaign by the Auditor-General.
This provision removes all room for subjective interpretation and political expediency in the exercise of exemptions from compliance. The current guidelines which allow exemptions on the basis of ‘a national emergency, extreme urgency or other compelling reason’ allows broad interpretation which demonstrably results in campaign which breach the clear and stated intention. This Bill closes that loophole.
Further it provides a legislated process for the revision of the guidelines governing government advertising campaigns. Previously, government has been at liberty to ignore the guidelines or to adapt and change them at their will. Under this Bill the guidelines can only be revised by regulations following a process of public consultation. This makes sure that the revision process and the changes themselves are subject to public and parliamentary input and approval.
The Bill places the Auditor-General in a key position to assess, review and report on each advertising campaign over $250,000 to ensure it complies with the guidelines. The Auditor-General will provide reports to the Minster and to the parliament on each campaign and while the Minister retains ultimate responsibility for the approval or rejection of a campaign, the transparency of the process will ensure that the Australian public are fully informed of review and decision-making processes.
The Bill removes the temptation for governments of all persuasions to bend the rules to meet their immediate political needs. It is time that the public interest is given priority on this important issue. This Bill enshrines a framework for accountability of government expenditure on information and advertising campaigns so that they are no longer subject to the whims and vagaries of politics.
I commend this Bill to the Senate.