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Preventing the Misuse of Government Advertising Bill 2010

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2010

 

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

 

SENATE

 

 

 

 

Preventing the Misuse of Government Advertising Bill 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by authority of Senator B Brown)

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

Preventing the Misuse of Government Advertising Bill 2010

 

OUTLINE

 

The Preventing the Misuse of  Government Advertising Bill 2010 establishes a legislative framework for accountability of expenditure on information and advertising campaigns undertaken by Australian government departments and agencies to ensure that the campaign advertising does not contain electoral matter. 

 

The Bill provides the Auditor-General with new functions of reviewing government information and advertising campaigns with a cost in excess of $250,000 and reporting whether the comply with the principles and guidelines set out in the Bill and do not contain electoral matter. The Bill allows the Auditor-General to use the powers available under the Audit Act to undertake these new functions.

 

The Minister and the Auditor-General are required to table reports for both Houses of Parliament with the details of such information and advertising campaigns.

 

The Bill provides for the exemption of information and advertising national emergencies from the guidelines. These campaigns are required to be reviewed by the Auditor-General as soon as practicable following the exemption.

 

The principles and guidelines outlined in the Schedule of the Bill govern the use of public funds for all government information and advertising campaigns. The guidelines may be revised by regulation following a process of public consultation.



 

Notes on Clauses

 

 

PART 1 - PRELIMINARY

 

Clause 1 provides that the Act may be cited as the Preventingthe Misuse of Government Advertising Act 2010 .

 

Clause 2 provides for the Commencement of the Bill.

 

Clause 3 sets out the Objects of the Bill.

The overall aim of the Bill is to establish the framework for accountability of expenditure on information and advertising campaigns undertaken by Australian government departments and agencies to ensure that the campaign advertising does not contain electoral matter. The Bill gives the Auditor-General the powers and functions to review and report on all government information and advertising campaigns in excess of $250,000 in accordance with the guidelines set out in the Schedule of the Bill.  Only campaigns relating to national emergencies are exempt from the guidelines with the provision that these campaigns are reviewed by the Auditor-General as soon as practicable following the exemption.

 

 

PART 2 - PREVENTING THE MISUSE IN GOVERNMENT ADVERTISING

 

Clause 4 - Interpretation

 

This clause defines the key terms used in this section of the Bill in order to avoid doubt and clarify the intended meaning of each word for the specific purposes of the Bill.

 

Clause 5 - Requirements for campaign advertising

 

Subclause (1) requires that agencies must comply with the principles set out in the campaign advertising guidelines when spending funds on government information and advertising campaigns.

 

Subclause (2) outlines the review and reporting process to be undertaken by the Auditor-General for campaigns with expenditure in excess of $250,000.  

 

Under this subclause, no expenditure other than that required for the statements relating to the information and advertising campaign set out in subclause (3) may be appropriated unless the Minister has approved and authorised the development of the campaign, provided the campaign statements to the Auditor-General; and the Auditor-General has reviewed the statements in accordance with the guidelines.

 

This allows for the expenditure of monies for the preparatory work on an advertising campaign with expenditure over $250,000, such as developmental research to be conducted  with Ministerial authorisation and approval prior to and to comply with the guidelines.

 

Subclause (3) details the content of the two statements to be provided to the Auditor-General by the Chief Executive of the agency for a review of a campaign.

 

Paragraph (3)(a) sets out the details of the statement of the campaign:

                              (i)  the purpose and nature of the campaign;

                             (ii)  the intended recipients of the information to be communicated by the campaign;

                            (iii)  the name of the person who is to authorise the campaign;

                            (iv)  the manner in which the campaign is to be carried out;

                             (v)  the name of the person or the entity that is to carry out the campaign;

                            (vi)  whether the campaign is to be carried out under a contract;

                           (vii)  whether such contract is to be let by tender;

                          (viii)  the estimated cost of the campaign.

 

Paragraph (3)(b) requires a statement of certification from the Chief Executive of the agency certifying that the campaign complies with the campaign advertising guidelines.

 

The process for reporting on the campaign advertising reviews to the Parliament is set out in subclauses 4, 5 & 6.

 

Subclause 4 requires that a copy of the statements set out in subsection (3) must be tabled in each House of the Parliament within 7 days of giving the statement to the Auditor-General.

 

Subclause 5 outlines the process to be followed if the Parliament is not sitting in the period.

Paragraph (5)(a) requires that the Minister provides a copy of each statement to the Presiding Office of the House.

Paragraph (5)(b) requires a copy of each statement to be published on the agency's website.

 

Subclause 6 requires the Auditor-General to give the Presiding Officer of each House of Parliament, for presentation to that House, a copy of each report on the campaign advertising provided to the Minister at the same time as the report is given to the Minister.

 

Clause 6 - Exemptions

 

Subclause 1 provides that only information and advertising campaigns dealing with national emergencies are exempt form the guidelines.

Subclause 2 provides that, in the event of a national emergency, the Minister may seek to have the advertising campaign exempted by the Cabinet Secretary in accordance with clause 9 of the guidelines.

Subclause 3 states that the exemption for that advertising campaign expires when the national emergency has ended.

Subclause 4 requires that the meaning of national emergency will be prescribed by regulations.

Subclause 5 sets out the process for review and reporting by the Auditor-General for national emergency campaigns, in which the Minister is required to seek a review by the Auditor-General of the campaign as soon as practicable.

 

 

 

 



 

Clause 7 - Revision of the guidelines

 

Subclause 1 requires that the guidelines on advertising campaigns set out in the Schedule can only be revised by regulations.

Subclause 2 outlines the process through which the guidelines are revised in which the Finance Minister must publish a draft of the revised guidelines on the department's website; call for public submissions on the draft, consult with the Auditor-General and table a report on the consultation process in each House of Parliament.

Subclause 3 requires the regulations revising the guidelines must not commence until the disallowance period has expired.

 

Clause 8 - Functions of the Auditor-General

 

This clause notes that under Section 22 of the Audit Act that the Auditor-General's function may include any functions given to the Auditor-General under any other Act.

 

Under this clause, the Auditor-General is given the following additional functions: to consider campaigns as specified in the Bill, to report on the compliance of campaigns with the guidelines set out in the Bill, to report to each House of Parliament on these matters, provide advise to the Minister and the Parliament on the operation of the guidelines and on proposals to revise the guidelines and any other functions which necessary or convenient to undertake these responsibilities.

 

Clause 9 - Powers and independence of the Auditor-General

 

To remove doubt this clause confirms the powers and functions given to the Auditor-General under the Audit Act and the independence and complete discretion of the Auditor-General in the exercise of these powers and functions under this Part of the Bill.

 

 

PART 4 - MISCELLANEOUS

 

Clause 10 - Later Acts not to be interpreted as overriding this Act

 

Subsection 1 and 2 of this clause ensure that this Act applies in relation to all appropriations, even appropriations made by future Acts, unless the Parliament expressly provides otherwise.

 

Clause 11 - Regulations

 

This clause provides for the Governor-General to make the regulations required or permitted by the Act or which are deemed necessary or convenient for the carrying out or giving effect to the Act.

 

SCHEDULE - GUIDELINES ON CAMPAIGN ADVERTISING

 

The Schedule of the Bill sets out the principles and guidelines which will govern the material, implementation and expenditure of campaign advertising by Australian Government Departments and Agencies.  The Schedule is based on the guidelines issued 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 in 2010.

The Guidelines provide :

·          The underlying principles governing the use of public funds for government information and advertising campagins and administrative process to be adopted by agencies and the government in the implementation and delivery of campaigns.

·          Definitions on the meaning of 'government campaigns' and the costs associated with the campaigns.

·          Five specific provisions to guide the development of material to meet the guidelines objectives, under the headings:

o    Guideline1 : Material must be relevant to government responsibilities

o    Guideline 2: Material must be presented in an objective, fair and accessible manner

o    Guideline 3: Material must not be directed at promoting party political interests

o    Guideline: 4 Material must be produced and distributed in an efficient, effective and relevant manner, with due regard to accountability

o    Guideline 5: Advertising must comply with legal requirements