Saturday, 13 June 2020

Ardern’s “factual” campaign marred by misinformation

“Jacinda Ardern’s call for a ‘factual’ election campaign has been marred by misinformation,” according to ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The Prime Minister has recently tried to rewrite the history of her Government’s Covid-19 response by suggesting it went ‘hard and early’. ACT was calling for the Government to close the border in January and February, but it waited until March, and then had to impose one of the most severe lockdowns in the world.

“Now, the Labour Party is undermining Ardern’s call for political parties to run a factual, honest election campaign.

In her first speech of the year, the Prime Minister said: ‘New Zealanders deserve a factual campaign, one that is free from misinformation, where people can make honest reflections for themselves about what they want for the future of New Zealand.’

“ACT agrees. New Zealanders deserve a contest of ideas, based on the facts.

“But, with 100 days to go until the election, Labour produced a list called ‘100 reasons to vote Labour’. It contains at least two falsehoods and one deeply misleading statement.

The first claim is that Labour has ‘Reduced the remand prison population, through the High Impact Innovation Programme, without risk to public safety.’

The total number of remand prisoners in September 2017, the date of the last election, was 2,987. The latest figure from March 2020 is 3,826, an 839 increase.

Labour also argues that it ‘Banned military-style semi-automatic firearms a week after the March 15 terrorist attacks, and then removed over 60,000 from circulation, through the gun buy-back.’

Only 15,037 of E endorsement firearms, including semi-automatics, were ever registered with Police. Given Police’s woefully inaccurate E category register, it could have been as low as 13,175.

“The Auditor-General’s evaluation of the gun buy-back was unable to establish whether it had been a success or if it made New Zealanders safer.

Another claim, that Labour ‘Lifted 18,400 children out of poverty as a result of the Families Package’, is, at the very least, deeply misleading.

Statistics New Zealand says the latest changes in child poverty are ‘unlikely to be statistically significant because they fall within the range of expected uncertainty.’

“Across the nine measures of child poverty, there was no clear trend, with the two material hardship measures actually showing an increase in child poverty.

“Jacinda Ardern promised to do politics differently and demanded an honest election campaign from all parties.

“ACT agrees that New Zealanders deserve a contest of ideas, based on the facts.

“That’s why Labour’s misinformation is so disappointing. It must live up to the Prime Minister’s call for a factual campaign.”