Govt spends more on advertising than Coles, Woolworths, McDonalds amid crossbench calls for greater oversight

New research reveals the Australian Government spends more on advertising than several major corporations, including Coles, Woolworths & McDonalds. New polling also reveals the overwhelming majority of Australians (76%) want greater independent oversight over the use of taxpayer money for government advertising.

The data comes following the launch yesterday by key crossbenchers Helen Haines MP, Rebekha Sharkie MP and Zali Steggall MP for a Democracy Reform Agenda for the 47th Parliament, facilitated by the Australia Institute.

Key Findings:

  • The Australian Government spent $145.3 million on campaign advertising in the 2020–21 financial year, more than several major corporations including Coles, Woolworths and McDonalds
  • New polling reveals three in four Australians (76%) agree that the Auditor-General should review government advertising to make sure it meets genuine information needs
  • Research recommends the Auditor-General should play an independent oversight role in approving government advertising
  • Woolworths spent $118 million on advertising and McDonalds $83 million

“Australians would be shocked to learn they are footing the bill for a government advertising budget which dwarfs that of companies like Coles, Woolworths and McDonalds,” said Bill Browne, Senior Researcher for the Australia Institute’s Democracy & Accountability Program.

“It’s no wonder voters are cynical about Government advertising when they are spending more than these major multinationals.

“Our research reveals the overwhelming majority of Australians (76%) agree that the Auditor-General should review government advertising to make sure it meets genuine information needs.

“The current rules have failed to prevent dubious and controversial advertising campaigns from being funded, at a cost of millions of dollars of public money.

“There is clearly a need for greater independent oversight.

“Reform is needed and should focus on finding a role for the Auditor-General in regulating proposed campaigns, not just auditing their administration after the fact.

The research ‘Bad Impressions: Scrutiny of government advertising’ is an extension of the crossbench launch yesterday of the Democracy Reform Agenda for the 47th Parliament

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