There are reports that the Government will allocate $7.5 million to each of the “yes” and “no” cases in a plebiscite on same-sex marriage, should such a proposal come to pass. This matches in dollar terms the amounts allocated to the respective cases in the 1999 referendum on a republic, but to replicate the value of the 1999 campaign funds in 2016 terms would require $11.9 million for each side. Or put another way, the amount is equivalent to giving the respective cases $4.73 million each in 1999.
In 1999, in addition to the “neutral” public education campaign for the referendum on the republic, the yes and no cases were each allocated $7.5 million of public funding for their campaigns. This money was administered by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, through the Republic Task Force. The annual report of the Department for 1999-00 reports how the money was spent.
Committees for the Yes and No campaigns were established, made up of members of the respective camps at the 1998 Constitutional Convention which considered the question of the republic.
DPMC noted that:
While contracts for market research, direct mailing, advertising and other necessary activities were issued through the department, decisions about the selection of contractors, scope of the contracts and fees payable were made by the committees themselves. The department’s role was limited to checking to ensure compliance with basic accountability standards.
The DPMC Annual Report indicates that the campaigns did not go out to public tender as a government contract. However, news reports of the time indicate that there was considerable competition for the campaigns with 22 firms competing for the Yes campaign’s work, with John Singleton winning the bulk of the work, and “dozens” of firms vying for the “No” campaign, with Digby Nancarrow winning the contract for much of the work from a shortlist of four.
Where did the money go?
For the Yes Case:
- Singleton Ogilvy & Mather (Sydney) Pty Ltd received $1,946,953 (approximately 26% of the budget) to “provide creative advertising agency services for the Yes Advertising Campaign Committee — includes creative development and production of advertising materials and how to vote materials, preparation of communications strategies for non-English speaking background and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities”.
- Singleton Ogilvy & Mather (Sydney) Pty Ltd also received $118,780 (1.6% of the budget) “to provide advertising campaign management services for the Yes Advertising Campaign Committee — includes management fee and consultants’ and Yes Committee members’ travel”.
- ANOP Research Services received $750,000 (roughly 10% of the budget) “to provide market research services for the Yes campaign”.
- Mitchell Media Partners received $4,669,984 (62% of the budget) to buy campaign advertising for the Yes Campaign.
In total, these contracts amounted to $7,485, 717 (which in 2016 terms would amount to $11,858,995).
For the No Case
- Nancarrow Marketing Communications Pty Ltd received $1,552,570 (21% of the budget) “to provide creative advertising agency and campaign management services for the No Advertising Campaign Committee — includes creative development, production and distribution of advertising materials, how to vote materials and consultants’ travel”.
- PeeCeeBee Pty Ltd received $115,000 (just over 1% of the budget) “to provide advertising campaign director services for the No Advertising Campaign Committee”.
- Nexus Quantum Pty Ltd received $379,680 (5% of the budget) “to provide market research services for the No Advertising Campaign Committee”.
- Simon Richards Group Pty Ltd received $65,000 (less than 1% of the budget) “to provide strategic advice and planning with respect to non-English speaking background and ethnic communities for the No Advertising Campaign Committee”.
- Mitchell Media Partners received $5,327,939 (72% of the budget) to buy campaign advertising for the No Campaign
In total, these contracts amounted to $7,444, 189 (which in 2016 terms would amount to $11,793,206)