NSW’s Berejiklian government spent a record $87 million on advertising in the 2017-18 financial year, primarily to assuage commuters of the merits of public transport.
The state goes to the polls next March, with many predicting that Sydney’s chaotic trains and light rail shambles will weigh heavily on voter’s minds.
According to today’s The Sydney Morning Herald, a third of the annual budget – the most since the Liberals won office in 2011 – was spent on road safety campaigns.
The most expensive campaign has been Transport for NSW’s “Tomorrow’s Sydney” which has cost the taxpayer $16 million since it was launched in 2015.
The Berejiklian government has spent $51.5 billion on roads and public transport infrastructure, which includes the north-west rail link and the controversial WestConnex. Many of the ads are designed to highlight the benefits when the projects are finally opened.
The government has also touted the success of many of its campaigns that have reportedly led to an 11 per cent increase in public transport use and a 12 per cent decline in CBD traffic.
A Transport For NSW spokesperson telling The SMH: “To keep NSW moving it is imperative the public know about impacts as well as alternative routes or transportation options.”
Labor has pledged to cull the annual ad spend by $30 million if it wins government in 2019. However, that has led to calls of hypocrisy. In its final year in office, Labor spent far more than $87 million on advertising, while no party has managed to eclipse the $116 million spent on advertising under Carr’s Labor government in 2007-08.