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.