Greens want ban on tax-funded ads

PAGE Greens candidate Jeff Johnson has called on Page MP Janelle Saffin and her Nationals challenger Kevin Hogan to back a plan to ban governments from spending tax funds on political ads.

Mr Johnson said new legislation being introduced in the Senate by Greens Leader Bob Brown aimed to stop governments from running ads promoting party-political interests.

“Through the Howard years, and now under Kevin Rudd, we have seen hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers' money spent on advertising campaigns which are largely politically motivated. Imagine what that money could have done for infrastructure and services in our region” he said.

However, Ms Saffin and Mr Hogan were unimpressed.

Ms Saffin said the Greens' legislation was unnecessary.

“We said we would reform political advertising and it did just that,” she said. “Our guidelines are far stricter and more responsible than anything the Howard Government operated under.”

She said the guidelines allowed for exemptions ‘based on compelling reasons'.

“When you consider the huge war chest the multinational mining companies are pulling together, the Government had a compelling reason to act quickly over the mining tax issue,” she said.

Mr Hogan said it would be hard to draw a line between political advertising and genuine educational ads.

While criticising Labor's taxpayer-funded ad campaign to promote its mining tax for not first being vetted by the Auditor-General, Mr Hogan said he did not agree all government ads should be vetted in that way.

He said he expected the Coalition to announce a policy on political advertising before the election.

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