Watchdogs call out Vic anti-Canberra ads

Kaitlyn Offer

An expensive Victorian government advertising campaign attacking federal spending during the Australian election has sparked concerns within corruption watchdogs.

The bosses of four state government departments were dobbed in by an outraged opposition to the Independent and Broad-based Anti-corruption Commision and Victorian Ombudsman in April over the reported $1.7 million "Fair Share" campaign.

In a joint letter on Thursday, the two agencies advised Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien they would not be launching formal investigations because it would be "highly unlikely" it could be proven the advertisements were not motivated solely by public interest.

"However, we consider that the timing and content of the campaign advertisements would have had the effect of influencing public sentiment against the government of the commonwealth," the letter reads.

"This would have been the likely perception of a reasonable member of the Victorian public, whatever their political allegiance."

The letter went on to say the "effect of the advertising, despite its public interest component, was inconsistent with apolitical public sector conduct" under the relevant laws.

Despite the campaign, the coalition government was re-elected.

"The Andrews Government's ad campaign was a partisan use of taxpayer funds designed to attack the federal coalition and help Bill Shorten," Mr O'Brien said in a statement on Friday.

"It is clear that publicly-funded advertising should not be used for political advantage."

An Andrews government spokeswoman accused the opposition of also running a stunt by reporting the campaign to IBAC and the Ombudsman.

"This has been shown by the findings," she said.

"As we always said, our campaign was purely about Victoria getting its fair share from Canberra, no matter who won the election."