CANBERRA: Australia's federal government is set to increase its advertising budget by more than 30% in the next financial year. The uplift will push spend closer to its pre-election levels in 2007, following a period of substantial cuts.

Universal McCann, the government's media buying agency, confirmed that discussions were underway for a "big lift" in expenditure during 2009-10. The agency wouldn't be drawn on its schedule, although an unnamed TV executive was more forthcoming:

"They'll be spending up," he said. "But it is probably part of a normal cycle. It usually gets cut to the bone in the first year after an election, year two starts to rise, and in year three it goes crazy."

A report by the nation's Auditor-General in March this year documented the massive increase in spending that took place under the Coalition government between 1996 and 2007, which included A$281m (US$226m; €161m; £137m) in 2006-07, and more than $1.8bn during prime minister John Howard's period in office. This included campaigns for the controversial workplace reform initiative, which alone clocked up a bill of $113min two years.

The administration of new prime minister Kevin Rudd has reformed much of the government's publicity machine in a bid to cut costs, make it less political and introduce transparency into communications. Nielsen figures estimate the federal government, the largest single advertiser in 2007, is now the fifth.

Data sourced from Sydney Morning Herald; additional content by WARC staff