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.
Not only are these ads intended to deceive a gullible public, they are too often the result of writers whose grammar and vocabulary is sadly lacking. There is no chance that I will continue to watch the use of “less” when “fewer” should be used. This is, perhaps, indicative of the government’s attitude in general.
So many right wing nut jobs cannot spell or punctuate effectively, so it is unsurprising.
I regret to say that all governments do this before elections. The South Australian ALP government of Jay Weatherill did quite a lot of this sort of thing before both the 2014 and 2018 state elections. As suggested, it is always dressed up as information for the public but it is basically blatant political advertising using public money.
Yeah, I am sure it is a sign of desperation when a government is lagging in the polls; they pull out all stops. Those elected seem to think that it gives them carte blanche to do as they wish. The apotheosis of this was the moronic Tony Abbott railing against ‘unelected experts’ when whining about the science of climate change. He seemed to think that ‘elected inexperts’ had a better grasp of reality. Unfortunately, politicians cannot be trusted to do what is in the best interests of the community, only what suits them.
“what they will do if re-elected”
Give me a break. They can’t even deliver their promise of a federal ICAC, one that will help them get locked up.
Another dreadful example of LNP advertising with our money are the “Rubbish” ads. Apart from being foolish – the aim of educational initiatives in this field is to make people understand their recyclables as resources, not rubbish – real Federal government action in this field is minimal, most occurs at State Government level.
That is another of the Morrison government’s characteristics: claiming credit for others’ efforts.