Evidence today from officers of the National Audit Office to a Parliamentary Committee had confirmed that many of Mr Rann’s controversial government advertising campaigns would be banned if federal guidelines were applied.
Mr Robert Holbert and Mr Michael White, from the National Audit Office, today gave evidence to the Legislative Council Select Committee on Government Advertising.
“It was clear from their evidence that television and radio campaigns involving Mr Rann, such as the Premier’s Reading Challenge, State Budget and Winning the Air Warfare Destroyer Project, would not have been allowed under the new federal guidelines,” Shadow Minister for Finance Rob Lucas said today.
However, their evidence also noted that simply removing the “politician” from a television advertisement does not ensure that a television advertisement is not “partisan or party political”.
Hon R Lucas: “…It isn’t just sufficient in relation to saying, ‘hey, by ensuring there are no politicians in the ad, every other ad is therefore non-partisan and non-political. It is possible to have a partisan or party political ad that doesn’t involve a politician and a politician’s face.’
Mr R Holbert: “I think it is fair to say that the guidelines provide a range of factors and considerations in addition to an ad promoting a particular politician. There is a whole range of other considerations that may lead to an advertisement being considered partisan or political.”
(Select Committee on Government Advertising, 26-08-2009)
“For example, Mr Rann’s controversial television campaign on the Royal Adelaide Hospital did not include Mr Rann in the actual advertisement, but it was clearly partisan as it supported Mr Rann’s view on the rebuild the RAH controversy,” Mr Lucas said.
“It is quite clear that Mr Rann will still be able to spend millions of dollars on political government advertising under his supposed new policy.
“Mr Holbert and Mr White also advised the Select Committee on Government Advertising that total spending on some federal advertising campaigns was 20-30 per cent higher than the reported expenditure on “buying television and radio time”.
“These additional costs included research, creative content and departmental resources, and were often not reported by governments.
“If these same estimates are reflected in South Australia, then if “media buy” costs in 2009 are $40-$45 million, then total expenditure on government advertising could be as high as $55-$60 million.
“This issue will now need to be pursued by the Select Committee on Government Advertising.”