The Weatherill Government has blocked legislation to strictly control taxpayer funded advertising and prevent state governments from abusing public money for political purposes.
“The Weatherill Labor Government has shown its true colours today voting to adjourn legislation to that would have ended its massive splurge on taxpayer funded political advertising,” said Deputy State Liberal Leader Vickie Chapman.
“Labor blocked this legislation hoping to avoid massive financial penalties for its ongoing abuse of taxpayers’ money.
“Labor will not avoid a future penalty for abusing taxpayers’ money as this bill will be re-introduced in the new parliament and made retrospective to 1 November 2017.
“The Labor Government has slashed health services at the same time it has splurged millions of dollars on a cynical political advertising campaign.
“You can’t turn on the television without seeing Jay Weatherill’s face splashed across the screen as part of a relentless advertising campaign funded by the taxpayer and designed to save his political skin.
“Labor’s wall to wall taxpayer funded advertising campaign is in breach of the State Government’s own advertising guidelines and amounts to a disgraceful abuse of office.”
The Government’s own guidelines are explicit: Public funds should not be used for communications where: The activity could be interpreted as political advertising.
This legislation will add teeth to the guidelines by imposing significant penalties.
The proposed changes to the Electoral Act will prohibit the use of the face, image or voice of the Premier or Government Minister in advertising and provide the Electoral Commissioner with power to determine if taxpayer funded adverts are in breach of the law.
Where the taxpayer funded advertising is deemed to be political the offending party must refund the cost of the advertising and will face a consequential penalty 20 times the cost.
The cost of taxpayer funded political advertising will be deemed to be part of the Electoral Spending Cap included in the electoral expenditure cap repayment will be drawn from the cap.
“To paraphrase former Premier Mike Rann whenever a politician’s face is in Government advertising the objective is political,” said Ms Chapman.