Judith Collins apologises over National Party ad Chris Hipkins complained was misleading

National Party leader Judith Collins has apologised over a National Party ad posted on social media which Health Minister Chris Hipkins complained was misleading. 

House Speaker Trevor Mallard said in Parliament on Tuesday he had received a letter from Hipkins raising with him a "matter of privilege" - a reference to matters affecting Parliament's rules. 

Mallard described the complaint as an "alteration or misrepresentation of a reply of a written question posted by the National Party on social media" and said the "altered reply purported to be from the Minister of Health and is on the face of it misleading". 

The image, posted to the National Party's social media pages, was made to look like a Labour Party letter and showed a written answer by Hipkins to National's health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti about COVID-19 testing. 

Mallard said under "normal circumstances" he would be "inclined" to refer it to the Privileges Committee - sort of like Parliament's court - because the post "purports to be authorised by the leader of the Opposition" even though Collins says she did not see it before publication. 

"The general manager of the New Zealand National Party has taken responsibility for it," Mallard said. "The post involved the manufacture of a fake ministerial letterhead to lend authenticity to the misrepresentation."

Mallard said Collins has apologised and he has no plans to take any further action because Parliament is set to be dissolved on Sunday ahead of the election. 

"The leader of the Opposition has apologised," Mallard said. "I have been assured that the material has been removed from social media and in light of the impending dissolution of Parliament I do not intend to take any further action." 

Judith Collins apologises over National Party ad Chris Hipkins complained was misleading
Photo credit: Twitter

Mallard last week referred former National and now independent MP Jami-Lee Ross to the Privileges Committee for misusing edited parliamentary TV video for political ads.

The Speaker ordered an anti-vaccination video - posted by the NZ Public Party co-led by Ross and Billy Te Kahika - to be removed from social media. 

The video included parliamentary footage of Government minister Megan Woods in an exchange with National's Erica Stanford that was edited for use in the political ad, which Mallard considered a potential breach of privilege. 

The Privileges Committee ruled on Tuesday that video titled 'Say No to Labour's Forced Vaccination Agenda' was misleading and recommended that the Speaker's direction to remove the video remain in effect. 

"The video represents a blatant doctoring of Parliament's proceedings that is intended to mislead viewers by implying a proposal for compulsory vaccination of New Zealanders," the committee said in its report

"In the unanimous view of the committee, the misleading video should be removed from use, including by social media platforms."

Ross hit out at the committee on Tuesday for presenting a report to Parliament with no input from him or the party accused of breaching Parliament's rules. 

"The Privileges Committee has acted like a kangaroo court by holding a meeting, taking advice, forming a conclusion, and then making a finding, all without any input from those standing accused," he said. 

"We entirely reject the Speaker's first decision on the video on our Facebook Page. We now entirely reject the view of the Privileges Committee."