Judith Collins shrugs off 'misleading' wealth tax ad as Jacinda Ardern reflects on misrepresentation of policies

Judith Collins shrugs off 'misleading' wealth tax ad as Jacinda Ardern reflects on misrepresentation of policies
Photo credit: Newshub / Facebook

Jacinda Ardern has reiterated her concerns about policies being misrepresented after Judith Collins shrugged off a ruling from the advertising watchdog that a National Party ad was "misleading". 

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has found that a National Party ad during the election campaign claiming retirees would pay an extra $140 a week under the Green Party's proposed wealth tax was misleading. 

The sponsored Facebook ad said, "STOP THE WEALTH TAX", with accompanying text, "A wealth tax would be disastrous for retirees in New Zealand. If you've worked hard to pay off your home and save for your retirement you could be pinged $140 PER WEEK". 

The ad contained a promoter statement and a "Learn More" link to details about the National Party tax policy. But the ASA says the ad did not provide any evidence to back up the claim that retired people could be forced to pay a wealth tax of $140 per week.

Facebook's Ad Library shows around $4000 was spent on the ad and its potential reach was between 500,000 and 1 million people. The ad ran for three days and ended on October 15. 

The ASA Complaints Board settled the complaint since National removed the ad and agreed not to use it again. National has asked that the complaint be considered settled. 

National leader Judith Collins has apologised for National Party ads deemed misleading before, such as one in September made to look like a Labour Party letter. But Collins is standing her ground this time, rejecting that the wealth tax ad was misleading.   

 "No, in fact actually, when you look at it, all that was missing was a link to the source material which should have been there," she told reporters on Tuesday. 

Collins shrugged when asked if the ad contained incorrect information, and said she did not regret campaigning hard against the Greens' wealth tax in the final weeks of the election campaign. 

"No not at all. Labour took the Greens into Government with them whether they need them or not as I said they always would," Collins said. 

"I don't believe it is misleading, particularly when you look at the fact that all that was missing was a link to a particular source... It's not at all an issue."

In the lead-up to the election, National unveiled a document warning the elderly how the Greens' wealth tax policy could hit them if their partner passed away.  

Collins said during the election campaign her speculation that Labour would introduce the Green Party's wealth tax was "very real", despite Labour leader Jacinda Ardern categorically ruling it out on several occasions.  

"Obviously I've already ruled it out. The fact that the Opposition continue to raise it is unfortunately a desperate tactic in the closing days of the campaign," Ardern said before the election.  

The Prime Minister often said during the election campaign she thought it was unfair for National to tie Labour to the Green Party's policies. 

"Oh look, certainly we had concerns and I raised them during the campaign around the way some policies were being treated by other parties," Ardern told reporters on Tuesday, when asked about the ASA's ruling on National's ad. 

"But look, I raised them at the time - obviously a separate process enables us to have someone who doesn't have that political interest make that call too."

Green MP Golriz Ghahraman took to Twitter to criticise National over the ad. 

"Lying to win votes = You probably shouldn't be running this election," she wrote. "Lying to prevent a solution to poverty in the midst of a pandemic = Please resign from politics and any profession with direct human impact." 

The ASA earlier this year cleared National of wrongdoing after it used "hyperbolic" graphics that had potential to "cause confusion" to illustrate what it claimed was the increasing cost of petrol. 

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