Disinformation-accused Labour says Instagram post about National and ACT reintroducing student loan interest was 'mistake'

Labour says an Instagram post claiming a National-ACT coalition would reintroduce interest to student loans if elected was a mistake. 

The incumbent governing party has been accused of disinformation after several recent social media posts raised eyebrows. 

"A National/ACT coalition will not only cut fees free for first-year students, but they will also add interest back on ALL current student loans," one post said, despite the Nat’s last week saying it would keep fees-free if elected. 

Another post depicted a news story about military-style guns (MSSAs) being "back" if ACT was in Government. The report, however, was the headline of a press release by Labour itself.  

Labour leader Chris Hipkins on Thursday flat-out denied his social media team was spreading disinformation about other parties' policies. 

However, senior Labour MP Ginny Andersen told AM the post about tertiary education was an "outright mistake". 

"That was a mistake and that's been admitted to," she said.  

"That's the only one I'm aware of. That was someone who put up the wrong information and that was taken down, and an apology issued." 

In 2005, the interest-free loan scheme was launched by Helen Clark's Labour Government.  

And, in 2017, Jacinda Ardern's Labour-led Government launched fee-free education for first-year tertiary students. 

Despite National promising to axe fees-free ahead of the last election, it has changed its tune this campaign and pledged to keep it if elected. As for adding interest back on student loans, "they're just making up stuff", said National MP Paul Goldsmith, appearing alongside Andersen for AM's last political panel before the election. 

However, Andersen defended the post claiming ACT wanted to put guns back in communities. "It's important you make it clear to your watchers at home… that is their policy," she said. 

"That's not misinformation, ACT issued a press statement or a policy document… and, in that, they said they would repeal all of the legislation around firearms and, in that, is the fact that MSSAs - those really deadly automatic weapons - would be brought back to New Zealand, so that is the truth." 

But ACT leader David Seymour said that wasn't true. 

"ACT actually wants to make the restrictions tighter on a fit and proper person who can legally have the firearms and go after all the people who illegally have them," he said on Thursday. 

"It's actually despicable if you think about the events that set off the current firearms policies and politics, the fact they're spreading misinformation about it now is just disgusting."