A National Party advertisement about government spending on the Provincial Growth Fund compared to what it spends on Pharmac has been ruled misleading by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
The ad on National’s Facebook page contained a picture of the Minister for Regional Economic Development, Shane Jones, with the text: “Despite claiming to be caring and compassionate, this Government only put an extra 1% in the Budget for lifesaving drugs. That doesn’t even cover inflation. National will invest $200 million more into cancer drugs.”
The text under the photo says: “The Govt has put 75x more into Shane Jones’ slush fund than it has for Pharmac.”
It claimed the source of the information was the Budgets of 2018 and 2019.
In response, National said Treasury Budget information shows the Provincial Growth Fund was allocated $3 billion over three years in comparison to Pharmac being allocated $40 million in new funding.
The majority of the ASA’s complaints board felt the substantiation provided by National was insufficient for the level of claim made in the advertisement and the political advocacy advertisement was likely to confuse or deceive consumers.
Car tax ad ruled misleading
And the ASA has also upheld a complaint about another National Party ad, on the Coalition’s “car tax”.
The ad, also on the party’s Facebook page, included a photo of Julie Anne Genter, Associate Minister of Transport, with the text: “What they said: “Small Fee” and to the right the text “What they did: $3,000 Now $6,000”. There was a line through $3000.
More text said: “What hope does an ordinary Kiwi have for getting some relief from taxes and costs if the people running the Government think $6000 is a small fee”.
Two complainants were concerned that the advertisement was misleading because the largest fee in the consultation document is $3,000 not the $6,000 quoted and the fee only applies to a small number of high-end, high emission vehicles. One of the complainants also noted that Ms Genter is a Green Party MP but the headline was “Labour’s Car Tax”.
The ASA’s complaints board upheld the complaints about the fee claims, saying the substantiation provided by the advertiser was insufficient for the level of claim made in the advertisement and was likely to confuse or deceive consumers.
However, in regard to the Green/Labour part of one complaint, the board said the Labour Party is the majority coalition partner in the government and it was not misleading to highlight that and Ms Genter’s role.