Judith Collins vows to find out who created 'misleading' National ad with her name on it

The National Party leader is vowing to spend Wednesday morning finding out who created  a social media image labelled "misleading" which said it had been authorised by her.

The Speaker of the House, Trevor Mallard, on Tuesday said Health Minister Chris Hipkins had raised a matter of privilege with him, complaining about the "alteration or misrepresentation of a reply of a written question posted by the National Party on social media".

The image, which was posted on party social media platforms, shows Hipkins replying to a written question from National Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti about testing numbers in managed isolation facilities. However, the text is on a manufactured ministerial letterhead and contains just part of Hipkins' answer.

"The content altered a reply purporting to be from the Minister of Health and is on the face of it misleading," Mallard said.

The image says it was authorised by National leader Judith Collins, but she denies she ever saw it. Mallard said the National Party general manager took responsibility, Collins had apologised, and he had been told the post had been taken off social media.

Judith Collins vows to find out who created 'misleading' National ad with her name on it
Photo credit: Twitter.

Collins told The AM Show on Wednesday morning that she wasn't behind the faked letterhead - but she would find out who was. 

"Well, not me. I am going to find out today. I am going to get to the bottom of it. It's possibly someone trying to be clever. I am particularly annoyed that it has happened. It's not like its $11.7 million for the Green School. But it's still not acceptable and I will sort it out today," she said.

The leader reiterated that she did not sign the post off, despite it saying she had done so. 

"No, I did not and I didn't even see it. That will also be dealt with today. So, you can just imagine, it's going to be an interesting morning," she said.

"We will sort it out today. I would say it is possibly an error from someone who is overly enthusiastic, but whatever, it's not acceptable, and certainly not putting my name on things when it's not true. I will be sorting it today. It will be sorted."

It could have been someone in the party's digital team, she said.

"Well, we will find out. I don't know so I will find out. I would say it is possibly someone in the digital team. But whatever it is, we will find out. But let's get it in perspective here. Someone has made an error and I have apologised on behalf of the National Party. I certainly didn't know about it." 

The social media blunder comes as the National Party on Tuesday questioned the Government in the House over a communications botch-up that asked all south and west Aucklanders to get tested for COVID-19 last week.

The Prime Minister has expressed her anger at that request - which was displayed on official Unite against COVID-19 social media pages and on the Ministry of Health website - and said it was wrong.

Collins said perspective was needed. 

"[The National Party] ad did not tell 700,000 Aucklanders to go off and get tested for COVID-19 and then stay there for four days, having said that it is the sole source of truth, isn't it? The Government's website. Actually, I think we need to get it in perspective. Someone has clearly made an error and we will sort it out today."

Mallard said that considering Parliament is set to dissolve this week, he wasn't willing to take any further action. Normally, the complaint could go before the privileges committee.