Government advertising vital for rural communities and country newspaper viability
Posted October 27, 2015
CATHY McGOWAN (Indi) (14:18): My question is to the Special Minister of State. It is about government advertising in rural and regional Australia. Minister, it is important that all people have access to government knowledge about services, particularly, in rural and regional Australia. Recent programs about the launch of My Aged Care, the small business boost package, Green Army campaigns and the jobactive information campaign are not advertised in rural and regional Australia. Could you please give a commitment to the House to take action on this to ensure that all government programs are advertised, especially in rural and regional media?
MR MAL BROUGH (Fisher—Minister for Defence Materiel and Science and Special Minister of State) (14:19): I thank the member for Indi for her question and her commitment to ensuring that the constituents in regional and rural Australia are well supplied with information about government programs. I should point out to the member for Indi that I have been approached by a number of members from across the political divide—the member for Wakefield being one; the member for Mallee being another—who also realise how important it is that no matter where we live in Australia we have access to appropriate government information. Today, we are hearing about the China free trade agreement. It is essential that this communication reaches every Australian so that
they understand just what is available to them, in recognising these opportunities.
I say to the member for Indi that there are rules that all sides of politics should abide by, when they are looking at these issues, and media schedules are developed with expert advice. The guidelines on information in advertising campaigns that have been agreed to by successive governments ensure that it is not pork-barrelling, that it is not just advertising for advertising's sake. I point out that this government, the coalition government, in the last two years, our first two years of government, has spent about 30 per cent less than the last two years of the Labor government. Some of that was against advice by officials.
Coming directly to the member for Indi's question, I am advised that important issues or programs like the Green Army, which is active in the member's electorate, is now being advertised through the Benalla Ensign, the Myrtleford Times, the Alpine Observer and the Wangaratta Chronicle. I would say to her as I would say to all honourable members: the government's commitment is to ensure that we have the proper guidelines followed and that in doing so we get the advertising where it is needed. So if you have advice of publications that you think should be considered, we will consider them within the advice that is provided and that is appropriate when deciding Commonwealth expenditure.