PRO-CARBON tax television ads to be unleashed on Australia tonight are part of a $25 million taxpayer-funded campaign to win over the public as the Gillard government struggles to explain its message.
The advertisements will cost $12 million but the total bill for the government to explain its climate-change policy will cost more than $25 million, with figures in budget papers showing the government has earmarked an extra $13.7 million for a ''public information'' campaign on the tax.
This would be used to fund websites, leaflets and other publicly available information on the details of the government scheme, a spokesman said.
Advertisement: Story continues below It is understood the television advertisements feature real Australians who work in large and small organisations and are involved in creating a clean-energy future. People appearing in the ads were not paid or given scripts.
But the government faces competition in the advertising stakes.
The Sun-Herald has learnt the Australian Trade and Industry Alliance will launch a $10 million anti-carbon tax advertising campaign this week, which is backed by the coal industry and the Minerals Council. It is understood a long-time Liberal Party pollster, Mark Textor, is the architect of the testimonial-style ads, which follow a similar print campaign in newspapers last week.
With polling showing the government holds a primary vote of just 27 per cent - the lowest in recorded history - and personal support for the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, also in uncharted territory, Labor has embarked on a fierce campaign in the electorate to sell its carbon tax policy. The Coalition leader, Tony Abbott, has also led his MPs and senators in hitting the streets to oppose the tax.
In an indication of the message Labor will take to the next election, a breakdown of compensation fund figures obtained by The Sun-Herald shows about 90,000 seniors who are single will be better off by $535 over and above cost-of-living rises associated with the carbon tax, about 100,000 pensioners and self-funded retirees will be better off by more than $500 and about 150,000 self-funded retirees and part-rate pensioners will receive extra tax cuts.
Mr Abbott addressed the party faithful at the LNP Queensland state conference yesterday and said the government was treating Australians like ''mugs''.
Repeating his call for the carbon tax issue to go to a referendum, Mr Abbott said ''we should have no tax collection without an election''.
The opposition climate change spokesman, Greg Hunt, said Ms Gillard had hidden the true figures of the cost of the advertising campaign.
''She should not rely on advertising using taxpayers' money to explain her tax,'' he said.