Three Advertising Standards Authority complaints against New Conservatives dropped

Leighton Baker is the leader of the New Conservative Party.
Leighton Baker is the leader of the New Conservative Party. Photo credit: File Image

Three complaints made to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the past month concerning "discriminatory" and "misinformative" ads from the New Conservative Party have been dropped.

The complaints involved a billboard ad for the party and a post on leader of the party Leighton Baker's Facebook page.

The Facebook post, which received one complaint, featured a picture of a woman wearing a mask with the caption: "Masking a virus or masking your voice?". The billboard advertisement receiving two complaints read: "No gender ideology."

The first billboard complainant found the sign "deeply offensive" and said their best friend wept "deep wrenching sobs" as they read it because such statements are a "slap in the face to any gender diverse individual".

Complainant one also said the message "undermines the marvellous work New Zealand governments have made to support these individuals", and "discrimination is not the way to garner votes".

Complainant two said "this is discrimination calling genders ideology".

Neither complaints were upheld.

The chair noted the complainants' concerns of the advertisement being offensive but as the billboard was an advocacy advertisement, freedom of expression also had to be considered.

The chair ruled there were no grounds for the complaint to proceed as the advertiser's identity and position were clear, and the phrase was about New Conservative's policy regarding teaching gender ideology in schools.

The chair said while she "acknowledges the complainant's genuine concerns about this advertisement, it is important that political parties can freely communicate their policies so voters can decide how they want to vote".

It was ruled there were no grounds for the complaint to proceed.

The chair declined to adjudicate the complaint about the Facebook post as it was confirmed to be unpaid content.

The complainant of the Facebook post said it "spread misinformation about COVID-19" and claims the second wave of the virus was "preempted".

The Facebook post claimed masks were not effective, the country didn't need to be in lockdown and insinuated that "taking minerals" and "eating healthy" will help your immune system fight COVID-19.