Australians were hit with more than $100 million in taxpayer-funded advertising in the lead-up to the 2019 federal election, new figures show.
In one campaign, the government managed to spend $11 million in the four weeks before the election was called.
The Department of Finance's 2018-19 Report on Government Advertising reveals in the six months to June 2019, the Morrison government spent $101.9 million on ad campaigns. The election was held on May 18.
For the full 2018-19 financial year, the government spent $140 million.
This included an $17 million spend by the Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development Department on the Building Our Future campaign.
The campaign spruiked the Coalition's $75 billion (later $100 billion) infrastructure package, which was a key selling point of the election campaign. It began on January 13 and wrapped up on April 11.
The Jobs and Small Business Department also spent $6.3 million on ads telling small businesses what government programs were available to them. The campaign was launched on February 24, 2019 and ended on April 6, 2019.
Treasury spent $16.1 million "informing" Australians about changes to personal income and business taxes under its "Tax and the Economy campaign". The Coalition's tax reform package was another key plank of their re-election campaign. The campaign ran from January 22 to April 11.
The Department of Energy managed to spend $11 million on "Powering Forward" advertisements between March 3 and April 11.
The Australian National Audit Office was highly critical of that program last year. The $33 million ad blitz was apparently to help Australians get a better deal on electricity. However, the Auditor-General found there was no evidence the claims in the ads were accurate. The messages were also too closely aligned with those of the Liberal party.
The amount spent on the energy ads in the month before Mr Morrison called the election on April 11 far exceeded the amount spent in previous phases of the campaign. In phase three - from August 26 to September 30 2018 - the Environment and Energy Department spent $5.4 million on the energy advertisements. In phase four - from December 2 to December 16 - it spent $3 million.
Labor last year accused Prime Minister Scott Morrison - who has been nicknamed "Scotty from Marketing" by opponents - of delaying announcing a date for the election so the government could spruike its infrastructure packages and school makeovers.
Then Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen said the "partisan government advertising" was a sign of "desperation".
However Mr Morrison's pre-election spending was dwarfed by that of his predecessor, Malcolm Turnbull.
From January to June 2016, the Turnbull government spent $129.1 million on advertising. The election was held on July 2. In the financial year leading up to the poll, the Turnbull government spent $174.7 million on advertising.
However both efforts were left for dust by that of the Howard government, while fending off the Kevin 07 campaign. In the period of July to December 2007, the Howard government spent $151.9 million on advertising. The election was on November 24.
But the report comes at an inopportune time for the Morrison government.
It is entering the first sitting week of the year fending off calls for Deputy Nationals Leader Bridget McKenzie's scalp, after an Auditor-General's report found she use a $100 million community sport grants program to funnel money to key electorates.
There are also questions over Senator McKenzie's decision to award drought funding to councils which did not meet strict rainfall or employment criteria in the lead-up to the election.
The government says the minister had the discretion to do so, and each of the councils met one criteria or the other.
However 13 of the 14 councils given funding after the caretaker period commenced were in Coalition electorates. The fourteenth was in Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie's electorate of Mayo.