New Zealand Law Society - Election over-budget claim ruled misleading

Election over-budget claim ruled misleading

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The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint about an election claim that a local board was massively over budget.

In a pamphlet for local election candidates standing under the Communities and Residents (C&R) banner for the Waitemata Local Board, under the heading “Cut Council Waste”, the candidates stated: “The incumbent Local Board was 40% over budget this year, so we’ll get Waitemata Local Board’s books back in the black”.

The complainant, an outgoing member of the board and its former chairman, said this claim was wrong and misleading.

In its response the group referred to two calculations to support the 40% claim. The first was the Waitemata Local Board’s operating performance financial summary over the third quarter of the financial year, and the second was the Local Board’s Funding Impact Statement for the period to 30 June 2019.

C&R told the ASA they pulled the claim once it was raised but feel it remains the correct one. “It was definitely not the C&R Waitemata Local Board candidates' intention to deliberately ‘mislead’; we withdrew the claim as soon as it was challenged but in fact the numbers used have been subsequently confirmed.”

The board said the information comparing figures from two different periods did not substantiate the factual claim made that the Waitemata Local Board was 40% over budget this year.

The complaints board therefore upheld the complaint.