ASA throws out more complaints about National Party social media adverts

More complaints about National Party adverts on social media have been thrown out by the advertising watchdog.

Earlier this year the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) cleared the party of wrongdoing after it used "hyperbolic" graphics that had potential to "cause confusion" to illustrate what it claimed was the increasing cost of petrol under the Labour-NZ First Government.

Now it's been cleared of accusations it exaggerated rent increases and lying about hosting meetings about gangs.

Nine people lodged complaints with the ASA accusing National of "showing a bar graph which is not to scale", in a post on Facebook and Twitter about the rising cost of rent. Some of them said the data National used was also cherry-picked to show the Government in the worst light possible.

"This is highly dishonest and is a pattern with National, who are exploiting social media to mislead voters," said one complainant.

Echoing a previous decision about National's social media advertising, the ASA said the advert "was mischievous but did not reach the threshold to mislead within an advocacy environment".

"By displaying the actual data alongside the coloured bars, viewers could easily see the advertiser had employed a level of hyperbole in the infographic."

The complaints were not upheld.

The ASA earlier this year ruled a National graphic about petrol prices was "mischievous" but didn't break any rules.

Two people also complained about a National Party post which claimed Labour "slashed economic growth, piled on debt, dragged NZ into deficit". 

"The complainants quote the figures from the Treasury for the period Labour have been in Government which show surpluses each year," the ASA said in its ruling.

But the ASA also said it was fair for National to use Treasury forecasts of an upcoming deficit in its advertising. 

"The advertiser had provided sufficient substantiation to support the claim by providing [links and documents showing] a $1.079 billion deficit."

Another complaint was laid about a National Party post on Twitter, which read: "National's Justice Spokesperson @MarkMitchellMP is at a public meeting on gang violence in Hawkes Bay. Standing room only. Kiwis are sick and tired of the Government’s inaction. Families deserve to feel safe in their own communities. We will crack down hard on gangs."

The complainant said the meeting was actually "a town hall being run by Stuart Nash", but appeared to claim it was a meeting on gangs called by Mitchell.

"The chair said there was nothing explicit in the advertisement to suggest this, with the post only stating that Mr Mitchell was present at a full meeting and gave an opinion about the stance the National Party would take on gang violence if it was in Government," said the ASA, throwing the complaint out.

The ASA is currently looking into complaints a Labour Party advert about cancer radiation machines is misleading.

In February it upheld a ruling against National's car tax adverts from last year, saying it "made a blanket factual statement, without any qualifications".