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Government Advertising (Objectivity, Fairness and Accountability) Bill 2000

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1998-1999-2000

 

 

The Parliament of the

Commonwealth of Australia

 

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

 

 

Presented and read a first time

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Government Advertising (Objectivity, Fairness and Accountability) Bill 2000

 

No.      , 2000

 

 

 

 

 

 

Explanatory Memorandum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Circulated by Mr Beazley



GOVERNMENT ADVERTISING (OBJECTIVITY, FAIRNESS AND ACCOUNTABILITY) BILL 2000

 

Explanatory Memorandum

 

The Bill will amend the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 to require government advertising to meet minimum standards with respect to objectivity, fairness and accountability, and to prohibit the expenditure of taxpayers’ money on advertising which promotes party political interests.

 

Notes on clauses

 

Clause 1 of the Bill will provide for the Act to be cited as the Government Advertising (Objectivity, Fairness and Accountability) Act 2000 .

 

Clause 2 of the Bill will provide that the Act commences on the day on which it receives the Royal Assent.

 

Clause 3 of the Bill will provide that the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 is amended as set out in Schedule 1.

 

Notes on Schedule 1 - Amendment of the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 (the Act)

 

Item 1 repeals section 14 of the Act and replaces it with a new section which expressly makes it an “improper use of public money” to use or permit to be used any public money for a government information program unless that program is in accordance with the Principles and Guidelines for the Use of Government Advertising contained in Schedule 1 (a new schedule to the Act). This is in addition to the other ways in which public money may be improperly used or disposed of.

 

Item 2 inserts a new schedule to the Act setting out the Principles and Guidelines for the Use of Government Advertising which are substantially identical to the draft guidelines recommended in October 1998 by the Auditor-General in a report on the government’s $20m tax reform advertising campaign in the lead up to the 1998 federal election ( http://www.anao.gov.au/rptsfull_99/audrpt12/rpt12-99.pdf ).

 

The principles and guidelines provide, among other things, that:

·          government advertising material should be relevant to government responsibilities;

·          material should be presented in an objective and fair manner;

·          information should be based on accurate, verifiable facts, carefully and precisely expressed in conformity with those facts;

·          no claim or statement should be made which cannot be substantiated;

·          the recipient of the information should always be able to distinguish clearly and easily between facts on the one hand, and comment, opinion and analysis on the other;

·          material should not be liable to misrepresentation as party-political;

 

 

·          information campaigns should not intentionally promote, or be perceived as promoting, party-political interests;

·          material should be presented in unbiased and objective language, and in a manner free from partisan promotion of government policy and political argument;

·          material should not directly attack or scorn the views, policies or actions of others such as the policies and opinions of opposition parties or groups;

·          information should avoid party-political slogans or images;

·          no information campaign should be undertaken without a justifiable cost/benefit analysis;

·          the cost of the chosen scale and methods of communicating information must be justifiable in terms of achieving the identified objectives for the least practicable expense; and

·          objectives which have little prospect of being achieved, or which are likely to be achieved only at disproportionate cost, should not be pursued without good reasons.