David Seymour attacks Government's 'Unite for the Recovery' plan, accuses it of North Korean-style propaganda

David Seymour is questioning the Government's 'Unite for the Recovery' plan, accusing it of running North Korean-style propaganda.

The ACT Party leader has come out with strong criticism of the campaign, which urges Kiwis to buy local and travel the country, saying it's using taxpayer funds to boost the Government's election chances.

And appearing on Sean Plunket's Magic Talk show on Monday, Seymour says while he doesn't have a problem with ads telling us to buy local, the problem is these ads are being "yelled at us" because they "fit the Government's narrative".

"You have to ask yourself, is this informing New Zealanders of things they didn't already know about?" he asks.

"Are there really people out there who weren't aware they could shop local or go and visit another part of New Zealand on a holiday? Or is it designed to reinforce this war-footing management of crisis narrative that happens to suit the Government?"

Plunket disagrees, saying the messaging is more "jingoistic and patriotic" - that New Zealand has the potential to do well together.

He also pointed out the yellow colouring of the campaign - a colour normally associated with the ACT Party.

But Seymour says what this advertising is doing is filling in the background to a campaign that "it's all sweet and we're doing great" and "why would you want to change the Government?".

"If you're in Government what you want is this propaganda that everything's great and we're united and 'we've got this' which sounds like 'let's do this'," he tells Plunket.

"If you're in North Korea you get constant propaganda telling you how wonderful everything is and why you should be so grateful and we've beaten COVID-19 and now we're together.

"That's the background to this election campaign and if I get $50 million of taxpayer-funded advertising saying 'actually there's a few things we should question and maybe we should look at other ways' then that would be fair but at the moment they're telling one side of the story with your taxes and that's wrong."

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister told Newshub the new campaign was "based on strong feedback from the business community that supporting New Zealand businesses, products, and destinations would be important to our economic recovery". 

"It would be a shame if that was seen as political."

The Cabinet Manual - which is described by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet as the "primary source of information on New Zealand's constitutional arrangements" - says while there are no laws against it, Governments in the past have "chosen to restrict their actions to some extent during this time, in recognition of the fact that an election, and therefore potentially a change of Government, is imminent".