Politics

Government targets SMEs in $36 million advertising cash splash

Eloise Keating /

If you turn on your television this week, you will likely see advertisements directly aimed at small business owners.

The prime-time ads are part of a range of federal government measures to communicate what last month’s budget will mean for different groups in the economy, including SMEs.

In fact, the Department of Treasury has been allocated $36 million to “engage with the community on economic challenges”, according to the department’s portfolio budget statement.

A Treasury spokesperson told Fairfax the funds will be spent on promotion of the government’s proposed small business changes, as well as the Intergenerational Report and the forthcoming tax white paper.

A commercial that aired during prime time on Channel Ten on Sunday night featured men and women in various work uniforms completing different jobs on a stage, while a voiceover explains key budget measures for small business, including the $20,000 asset write-off and the 1.5% cut to the company tax rate.

The same clip is available on the government’s “Meeting the challenge of Change” website, along with other videos aimed at small business. The website was established to coincide with the release of the Intergenerational Report in March.

The government has also created a Twitter account as part of its “Challenge of Change” promotion, which has been targeting small businesses.

But shadow treasurer Chris Bowen has accused the government of using taxpayer funding to spruik its own budget and linked the latest ads to the controversy surrounding Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, who was employed by the government to appear in ads for the Intergenerational Report.

“After the embarrassment of the Dr Karl saga, now Joe Hockey is using the tax payer funded IGR advertising campaign to spruik his budget,” Bowen said on Facebook on Friday.

Bowen told Fairfax the opposition will be “pursuing this issue in detail when Treasury fronts Senate estimates next week”.

“The IGR is supposed to be a 40-year, forward-looking document, yet much of the government’s support for small business ends in two years,” Bowen said.

“Joe Hockey has quietly expanded the coverage of the wasteful IGR ad campaign to cover budget measures.”

SmartCompany contacted Treasury and Small Business Minister Bruce Billson but did not receive a response prior to publication.

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Eloise Keating

Eloise Keating is the editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Eloise was news editor at Books+Publishing, the trade press for the Australian book industry.

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