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Over the past 13 years about $630 million, or a quarter of all federal campaign advertising, was spent on campaigns that spruiked government achievements – and spending spiked on the eve of each federal election.
This is a problem on both sides of politics, and at federal and state level. Of the 10 most expensive politicised federal campaigns in the past 13 years, half were approved by Labor governments and half by Coalition governments. Auditors-general often criticise state government advertising campaigns too.
In the lead up to the 2019 federal election, the government spent about $85 million of taxpayers’ money on politicised advertising campaigns – on par with the combined spend by political parties on TV, print, and radio advertising.
Weaponising taxpayer-funded advertising for political advantage wastes public money, undermines trust in politicians and democracy, and creates an uneven playing field in elections.
This report recommends tougher rules and tighter processes at federal and state level to prevent governments from exploiting taxpayer-funded advertising.

Key recommendations:

  • Legislate tighter rules for taxpayer-funded advertising
  • Strengthen the approval process
  • Enforce the rules with real penalties
Publication Details
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Grattan Institute Report No. 2022-12