‘Welcome to the Ideas Boom’ referred to Auditor General
I have written to the Auditor General, Mr Grant Hehir, seeking an audit of the Government advertising campaign Welcome to the Ideas Boom.
This campaign, designed to promote the Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, will cost the taxpayers of Australia around $28 million. It is centred on variations of the slogan “There’s Never Been a More Exciting Time to Be Australian”.
This language was used repeatedly by the Prime Minister, including in comments made on his assumption of the leadership of the Federal Liberal party last year, when he said:
“There has never been a more exciting time to be alive than today and there has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian.”
Malcolm Turnbull, Press Conference, 14 September 2015
I am concerned that this slogan is in breach of the Department of Finance’s Advertising Guidelines for two reasons:
- Principle 3 states that campaigns should “be objective” and specifically “not include party political slogans or images”.
- Principle 2 states that “where information is presented as fact, it should be accurate and verifiable”.
This campaign is arguably based on the Prime Minister’s comments which are neither ‘objective’ nor free of ‘party political’ themes – it is the centre of the Liberal’s political approach. And as the slogan is based on the personal opinion of the Prime Minister, how is an “accurate and verifiable” fact, and on what information was this assertion based on?
I have asked the Auditor General to perform an audit of the use of this slogan in the ‘ideas boom’ campaign to ensure that it is in line with the Guidelines, and to make sure that taxpayer funds are being used in the appropriate way.