According to the NSW Auditor-General one fact that has come in front is that the former NSW Labor government spent, on average, $116.2 million a year on advertising from 2007-2011 – nearly double that of the Liberal Party’s expenditure in its first year of office.
The Government Advertising Act 2011 commenced in October 2012 and it requires the Auditor General to conduct an annual audit of one or more government agencies in relation to the advertising campaigns of the agencies in each financial year.
Auditor General Achterstraat has said in his recently released report that the spending on the advertising was lowest in 14 years.
In his audit, he accessed two campaigns, the Cancer Institute NSW ‘Break the Chain’ anti-smoking and the former Rail Corporation NSW ‘Fixing the Trains recruitment plan and said that both were effective and efficient.
“I am pleased that the two advertising campaigns I reviewed complied with the ACT, Regulations, other laws and guidelines. The second campaign was selected by the public via a survey on the Audit Office website. The Fixing the Trains campaign received the highest number of votes so was included in my review,” said Mr Achterstraat.
“What I have seen accessed so far from the new government advertising requirements is that they are operating as intended,” he added.
In 2012-13, NSW Government agencies spent nearly $62 million on media used for government advertising.
“Future performance audits, especially the one covering the 2014-15 period, will provide an assessment of the effectiveness of the new framework on a wider range of campaigns, including capturing advertising in the run up to the next state election in March 2015,” added Mr Achterstraat.
He has also found a significant decrease in party-political advertising since the introduction of laws in October which forced parties to pay back public money if they breached the prohibition.
NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has also welcomed the findings of the Auditor General’s report which notes spending on government advertising is at its lowest level in at least 14 years.
O’Farrell has said that they have made it very clear that wasteful spending has to end and that’s why they have dramatically cut the amount the government spends on advertising.
This is the first performance audit conducted under the new obligations.
Government advertising is used to inform the community of government services and programs and any changes to them. It is also used to address social and health issues by influencing behaviours, such as smoking.