A decision by the Electoral Commission to refer a parliamentary-funded postcard from Labour to the police is expected to raise questions again about the extent of election advertising that will be funded by taxpayers in the run-up to the election. The postcard in question opposed asset sales and was funded by Labour’s parliamentary budget.
The Electoral Commission believes that because the postcard was election advertising as defined by the Electoral Act it needed a promoter statement on it, saying who authorised it. Labour’s statements on the issue suggests it thinks that simply because it was funded by Parliament, means it cannot be election advertising.
“Labour had taken the view that the flyer was not an election advertisement under the Act, in part because it had received prior authorisation from the Parliamentary Service for its publication,” campaign spokesman Grant Robertson said.
Labour justice spokesman Charles Chauvel said it was an honest mistake and the party’s processes had changed.
But Labour, National and other parties are likely to avoid similar embarrassment by putting a promoter statement – which is required on all election advertising – on most parliamentary funded material.
That is likely to mean the political parties end up producing politically stronger advertising using taxpayer funding, because they will be able to do so with impunity.