Official complaint laid against Labour Party attack ad about cancer radiation machines

Newshub can reveal an official complaint has been laid about a Labour Party attack ad that claims the former National-led Government never invested in cancer radiation machines.

The ad, posted to the Labour Party Facebook page on 4 September 2019, quotes National leader Simon Bridges discussing the Government's multimillion-dollar investment in radiation machines last year.

"The reality is this is little more than business as usual, that any Government has to do - I mean, effectively replacing machines that need replacing," Bridges is quoted telling RNZ at the time.

The advertisement then claims the "number of these machines National invested in fixing or upgrading over nine years is 0".

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) confirmed to Newshub that a complaint about the advertisement had been made and that the complaint is "currently being processed".

Both Labour leader Jacinda Ardern and National leader Simon Bridges have promised to run "positive" campaigns in the lead-up to the September 19 election.

But both major political parties have now been criticised for attack ads that are misleading. 

The ASA ruled in September last year that a National Party ad attacking the Government's proposed low-emissions car feebate scheme was "misleading". 

The advertising watchdog said the ad - which accused the Government of implementing a $6000 "car tax" - was "likely to confuse or deceive consumers". 

National attempted to appeal the ruling but the ASA recently rejected it and ordered the ad be taken down.

The Labour Party ad was authorised by Labour Party general secretary Andre Anderson.

He provided this statement: "The party believes the Facebook post setting out the Government's direct investment in 12 new machines to treat cancer patients is accurate and noted the ASA hasn't made any ruling on the matter.

"The National Party has had adverse rulings from the ASA on five separate complaints of misleading advertising since Simon Bridges became leader."

Prime Minister and Labour leader Ardern and Health Minister David Clark announced in August 2019 plans to fund the replacement of half of all the country's radiation machines.

The Government would purchase 12 linear accelerator machines over three years, the first five which would cost $25 million, coming from the $1.7 billion invested in hospital and health facilities in Budget 2019.

The former National-led Government also purchased 10 new linear accelerator radiation machines during, according to a Ministry of Health New Zealand Cancer Plan from 2015.

Former Health Minister Tony Ryall launched a new Varian TrueBeam radiotherapy linear accelerator machine in 2011 in Wellington.

A spokesperson for the ASA wouldn't go into any more detail but said all decisions about complaints are released to the public at the conclusion of the process.

Earlier this year, Labour voluntarily committed to Facebook's new ad transparency rules, meaning voters will be able to see how much is spent on ads and who they are targeted at.