Government advertising is when public funds are used to publicise a government policy, product, service or activity. Successive governments have chosen to exercise voluntary restraint in relation to some government advertising in the pre-election period.
During the pre-election period, State servants must be alert to the heightened political sensitivity around government advertising and any perceived risk that government funds are being used to pay for publicity for political parties.
Deferring some advertising in the pre-election period may be sometimes appropriate. The risk that public funds may appear to be used to fund political advertising has to be considered in the light of continuing government business as usual. Examples of business-as-usual activity includes publicity and advertising campaigns that inform people about government services or that set out the public’s entitlements and responsibilities, such as road safety campaigns.
Being politically neutral also applies to communications within an agency. For example, political material, whether it’s for the general election or preferences in referendum voting, must not be displayed on agency premises, vehicles, websites, or emailed from the agency. State servants must not publicly communicate their political preferences at work, for example, by wearing political party advertising on a t-shirt.