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Question: Government Advertising Guidelines

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (14:36): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Treasurer questions on the topic of government advertising guidelines.

Leave granted.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Two Sundays ago, residents of South Australia were given a day's reprieve from the eternal Harvey Norman wraps on our papers at the moment to see a wrap on the Sunday Mail of four full pages touting the government's water bill savings. My questions to the Treasurer are:

1. What is the name of this campaign?

2. What is the purpose or function of this campaign?

3. How will that campaign be evaluated?

4. What is the cost of the campaign to date and into the future?

5. Will you table the evaluation plan for this campaign?

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer) (14:37): I am delighted to answer these questions on behalf of the government, in reverse order. The government is committed to doing evaluations of its government advertising and makes available those particular evaluations publicly on the government website, so the answer to that question is yes, at the end of the campaign there will be an evaluation. In terms of the cost, that has already been publicly acknowledged, as I understand it by the minister for carriage of it, at approximately $1.2 million.

The extent of the campaign I believe is not only for the remainder of this calendar year but extends, as I understand it, into the early part of next year. I am advised by those responsible for the campaign that the purpose of the campaign is to drive people to the SA Water website to the estimator I think it's called, not a calculator, to estimate the extent of the savings. I am sure the honourable member will be delighted that the average South Australian household will save around about $200 a year.

Having reversed some of the decisions of the former Labor government in relation to the cost of water, many other high-use households—particularly those with two parents and three or four, particularly teenage, children who might shower a lot—and high water consumers in average value households may well save $400 or $500 a year.

Businesses, on average, are saving about $1,300. I think the Premier was at Heyne's Nurseries a week or so ago where the proprietor there indicated that his savings might be up to $100,000 a year. It's all about lower water prices, it's all about driving down the cost of living in households, but it's also trying to drive jobs and economic growth in South Australia.

In terms of how much has been spent so far, I can't give an answer on that, but the answer is that the total value of the campaign, I am advised, is about $1.2 million. As I said, the purpose of the campaign, so I am advised, is to drive people to the SA Water website and to the estimator. The other rationale for the campaign is that the more people are confident that governments are actually going to deliver concrete reductions in their water prices, the more confident they will be in going out and spending money in the economy.

If the member has been taking notice of the ads, they talk about the capacity to go out and spend money in the economy, buying footy boots for the kids because they might not have been able to afford them, going down to the local pub and spending money in a local small business, or taking a holiday down to Victor or to Robe and spending money in terms of the tourism and visitor economy. It's a question of trying to generate confidence in the economy, because it is important that people do have confidence that there is more money coming into their pockets and that they have some confidence that they might be able to spend a little bit of that money in the economy and get the economy churning along.

The final point I would make is that this government made a couple of commitments prior to the election. One was that we would spend significantly less on government advertising. In each budget, we report on that, and that has been shown to be the case: significantly less has been spent by this government on government advertising. We also prevented the shameless use of promotion under the former government, where former premier Jay Weatherill, with his energy plan, was saying 'Look at me, look at me, look at my energy plan,' and the millions that were spent on that.

We made sure that the Premier, the Liberal government, or indeed the minister, wouldn't in an equally shameless way be allowed to appear in government-funded advertising, and we have ensured that that is the case.

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