ACT Party advertising complaint upheld by ASA

act_ets_flier3Before the election the Act party sent a letter and flyer about the emissions trading scheme to rural households. This letter and flyer contained some excellent information on the ETS, and I was glad to see Act educating people about this flawed scheme.

However Act claimed to be the only party opposed to the ETS, and the only party that would withdraw from Kyoto (note Kyoto was only mentioned in the letter, not in the flyer reproduced here). This was completely false, as the Family Party also opposes the ETS, and supports withdrawing from Kyoto.

I complained to the Advertising Standards Authority over this, and my complaint has been upheld. Act’s response to the ASA over this issue was very arrogant, and stated (in full):

“The statement needs to be taken in the context of current political discourse in New Zealand.

This is an election campaign where most parties contesting the election will not obtain parliamentary seats. The Family Party is likely to be one of those parties.

Accordingly, the meaning of the statement is that the ACT Party is the only party that voted against the passing of the bill in parliament and will be the only party elected to parliament after the election that will oppose it.

If the Family Party oppose the statement on the flyer then that party is welcome to produce and distribute its own flyer/pamphlet putting their position. That’s how elections work.”

As it turned out we did not get into parliament, and I can understand their position on this. But the fact remains that they said they were “the only party”, which is completely untrue. If they had said “the only parliamentary party” or something to that effect, it would have been fine. But they didn’t.

I did not like complaining about these advertisements as the message was one that needed to be heard. But I could not roll over and allow a blatant lie. If someone has a good message they can portray it honestly.

I am glad this complaint was upheld.

I am also glad that Act was able to gain enough votes to get 5 MPs and get some concessions out of National on this important issue. I am however disappointed that a lie was used to in part achieve this result.

6 Responses to “ACT Party advertising complaint upheld by ASA”

  1. Chuck Bird Says:

    Samuel, you had every right to complain to the ASA. I have done so myself regarding an email the Kiwi Party circulated.

    It is fine to point out that your complaint was upheld. However, little is to be gained from referring to ACT’s statement as a blatant lie. The ASA found ACT’s advertisement misleading. It appears that you are embellishing thier decision.

    I have no problem with the ASA’s decision but I do think ACT had a point. I guess in future all parliamentary parties will have to qualify similar statements.

  2. Mr Dennis Says:

    Fair call Chuck, “lie” was my own word and not that of the ASA. It was however the term I used in my original complaint. Had it been an error I would be quite happy to use the term “misleading” myself. But as I know for certain Act was well aware of our position on this issue, yet still deliberately chose to run the ad as it was, I feel the term “blatant lie” is appropriate.

    It is frustrating when agreeing on something brings you into conflict!

  3. Rick Giles Says:

    Oh well you’re right. ACT know it’s not true when they say ‘we’re the only party that’ the same way ACT ignores the fact that Libertarianz often have the same policy.

    The only thing that’s strange here is having someone call ACT on it.

    Direct hit.

  4. kiwipolemicist Says:

    Good job Samuel.

    If they’d put up their hands and said “Sorry, honest mistake” I might have bought it, but their arrogant response is inexcusable. I would have expected better from the party that campaigned on “Three strikes and you’re in”.

    Is there any penalty beyond a slap with a wet election pamphlet?

  5. Mr Dennis Says:

    The penalty is that they are asked very nicely if they wouldn’t mind voluntarily stopping using that advertising. So no penalty at all, not even a slap with a wet election pamphlet.

  6. peterquixote Says:

    Even the most pessimistic ACT people like me
    are happy and we congatulate Rodney on his massive and absolute victory in Epsom.
    I am happy to see that NAT recognizes this political strength,

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