Many people know what political advertising is like, with the government laying out what they have accomplished (snigger!), what they will do if re-elected, and attacking the opposition’s plans. Similarly, the opposition attacks the government’s record and the government’s plans, while they list what they will do if elected. This type of advertising has ramped up since last August because the election needs to be held by late May or before1.
There is another type of political ad. They don’t look like political ads, because they are ostensibly ‘government information’ advertisements. Many will have seen ads on television in recent months which are vainly attempting to make the government appear like they believe the science of global warming and that they actually have an energy policy. The first is, of course, laughable, as everyone knows there are numerous climate change deniers in the government, while the remainder are more concerned with donations to the Liberal and National parties than any future climate disasters that will impact Australia. The second laugh is that we have an energy policy, which seems only to be characterised by railing against renewable energy and the rapidly approaching demise of coal.
Government Information advertisements have guiding principles. These include:
a. members of the public have equal rights to access comprehensive information about government policies, programs and services which affect their entitlements, rights and obligations;
b. governments may legitimately use public funds to explain government policies, programs or services, to inform members of the public of their obligations, rights and entitlements, to encourage informed consideration of issues or to change behaviour; and
c. government campaigns must not be conducted for party political purposes2.
These latest government Information ads are nothing like they should be. They do not highlight any obligations of the public nor inform them of their rights or entitlements; it is clear they are solely party political advertisements3. The one that attracted my attention most was the “Making Positive Energy” ad. Of course, it spruiked the government’s progress (?) in adopting renewable energy technologies including solar, hydrogen and energy storage, but strangely makes no mention of wind energy and shows no images of wind turbines4. Maybe Angus Taylor still hates wind turbines.
The hydrogen part of this, which Angus Taylor refers to as ‘clean’, is anything but. The hydrogen to which he refers is generated from fossil fuels and its greenhouse gas footprint can be as bad or worse than burning fossil fuels for heat. The only ‘clean’ hydrogen is that generated from water using renewable energy4.
In this advertisement the ‘government’ also states that Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions have decreased by 20% from 2005 levels. This is true, but it is being disingenuous for the federal government to indicate in any way that it is due to its actions. That decrease was largely because the Queensland state government enacted legislation to prevent the rampant land-clearing which had been happening for decades5.
Excluding these land clearing changes, emissions have only decreased from about 134 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent per quarter (MtCO2e/qtr) in 2005, down to 132 MtCO2e/qtr in 2021, a decrease of only about 1.4%. Most of that decrease was due to changes in electricity generation. Other sources have actually increased their emissions6.
For anyone to consider that these Government Information ads are anything other than party political advertisements would require a person to be delusional. If the election had been called, these advertisements would not be happening. However, because it has not been called, you and I, as taxpayers, are paying for them. We are paying for the Morrison government’s attempt to get itself re-elected. This is symptomatic of how this reprehensible government operates. It looks upon taxpayers’ funds as their personal re-election fund, whether it be making tens of millions of dollars worth of advertisements because the election has not been called, paying tens of millions of dollars for travel and accommodation for politicians while campaigning, despite the election having not been called, or rolling out billions of dollars of pork to their favoured electorates during their entire incumbency.