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Monday, 7 May 1984
Page: 1698

(Question No. 671)

Senator Chipp asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice, on 1 March 1984:

(1) Is the Treasurer aware that whereas in 1959 there were only two foreign owned advertising agencies, today some 20 foreign owned advertising agencies control 85 per cent of all Australian advertising.

(2) What action does the Treasurer intend to take to rectify this lamentable state of affairs in such a key industry.

(3) Is the Government prepared to use its market power to increase the proportion of Australian ownership and control of the advertising industry in this country, since the Government through public authorities and statutory authorities is the largest advertiser in the country.

Senator Walsh —The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) The Australian Bureau of Statistics surveys of foreign ownership and control covering accredited advertising agencies showed that in 1974-75 foreign ownership, measured in terms of turnover, was 43 per cent while foreign control accounted for 51 per cent of total turnover. While there are no more recent official statistics available, data available from advertising industry journals and industry sources indicate that in 1982 the top 20 advertising agencies with foreign ownership of 15 per cent or more accounted for about 65 per cent of the total billings of the top 150 agencies in Australia. Foreign controlled agencies amongst these top 20 agencies accounted for about 48 per cent of the total billings of the top 150 agencies.

(2) Given the high level of foreign ownership and control in the advertising industry, all foreign investment proposals are closely examined on a case-by- case basis under the Government's foreign investment policy.

(3) I am informed that the selection of advertising agencies for Commonwealth business follows the principle, as with the purchase of other similar services, of seeking the most efficient and effective service. There is, therefore, no policy in existence, or contemplated, to exclude agencies with foreign ownership interests from performing Commonwealth advertising. However, I am also informed that, as far as is practicable, the Australian Government Advertising Service ( AGAS)-which of course comes within the portfolio responsibilities of the Special Minister of State-now includes Australian-owned agencies, of adequate capacity and resources, in all panels of agencies invited to submit for government advertising business.

In practice, Australian-owned agencies are well represented in the agencies which are engaged by AGAS. The figures provided to me show that in 1982-83, 51 agencies participated in Commonwealth advertising and associated work arranged by AGAS. Of these, 31 were fully Australian-owned and 3 others had majority Australian ownership; these 34 predominantly Australian owned advertising agencies accounted for about 70 per cent of the total payments made in respect of all advertising and associated work arranged by AGAS. To date in 1983-84, 28 of the 41 agencies involved with AGAS work were fully Australian-owned and three had majority Australian ownership; these 28 agencies received about 76 per cent of the total payments so far recorded in 1983-84 as having been received by all agencies for services to the Commonwealth through AGAS.