The Queensland government is being urged to scrap a multi-million dollar taxpayer-funded campaign to sell debt reduction because it breaches an advertising code of conduct.
A television, radio, print and website campaign has been running since mid-April arguing asset sales need to be considered to reduce the state’s $80 billion debt.
But the opposition argues the $6 million “Strong Choices” campaign breaches section four of the Liberal National Party government’s own advertising code of conduct, which says advertising must be “free of political argument”.
“In my view the campaign is in clear breach of the LNP’s own advertising code of conduct and should be immediately stopped,” shadow treasurer Curtis Pitt said in a statement to AAP.
“How can Campbell Newman be trusted if he won’t govern by his own rules?”
Premier Campbell Newman said the ads complied with the government’s own advertising code, dated September 2013, because Labor’s record isn’t mentioned.
“We’re not saying that in any of our ads,” he told reporters.
Labor isn’t mentioned by name but the opposition says reference to “previous governments” in a letter to Queenslanders, from Treasurer Tim Nicholls, breaches 6B of the code, which says ads shouldn’t directly attack or scorn the views, policies or actions of other political parties.
Advertising Standards Bureau chief executive Fiona Jolly said government advertising was unregulated because it was not considered to be trade or commerce by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
“Basically, governments have decided that their own advertising doesn’t come under any rules,” she said.