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Greens push for crackdown on State Government advertising amid donations debate

19 June 2024

State Government advertising of more than $10,000 would be prohibited in the lead up to an election unless approved by the Auditor-General or both Houses of Parliament, under a crackdown on Government advertising proposed by the Greens.

Under the Greens’ Government Advertising Bill:

  • the Minister would be required to establish guidelines for Government advertising (the Government voluntarily established guidelines but there is no legislative requirement for them to do so).
  • MPs and Ministers will be prohibited from being featured in ads
  • Advertising of bills currently before parliament would be prohibited, along with the promotion of any political party
  • the Auditor-General will have new powers to investigate breaches and report to Parliament
  • Any Government advertising of more than $10,000 in the lead up to an election (from July of the year prior to the election) would be prohibited unless approved by the Auditor-General or the Parliament itself on specified grounds

Greens MLC Robert Simms will give notice of the bill in Parliament today.

Quotes attributable to Robert Simms MLC

“The Greens welcome the conversation we are having in South Australia about cleaning up politics. But if we are serious about getting money out of politics and leveling the playing field for all, we need to crackdown on Government advertising too. In an environment where the capacity for political parties to fundraise and spend on elections is restricted, advertising by the Government of the day could have a disproportionate impact.”

“Over the last financial year, the State Government spent almost $50m on advertising. That’s a lot of money, particularly in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis. Guidelines for this advertising should be mandated and we need to ensure that the Auditor-General is empowered to investigate breaches. In the lead up to an election, in particular, the lines between Government advertising and political party advertising are blurred. This bill would give an independent umpire, like the Auditor-General or the Parliament itself the authority to make a call on whether or not advertising is really in the public interest.”

“This bill draws on ideas that have been advanced by both the Labor and Liberal parties over the years. I hope that they will work with the Greens on this.”

Note: In 2019, former Attorney General Vicky Champman first introduced a Government Advertising Bill in 2019 which would have required the Minister to publish guidelines and then for the Auditor General to audit Government advertising & any breaches. In 2021, Shadow Treasurer Stephen Mulligan introduced a bill that would have restricted Government advertising in the lead up to state elections. A similar amendment was advanced by Robert Simms MLC. The bills and amend lapsed once Parliament was prorogued.