“The Government has spent a quarter of a million dollars on focus groups and polls to test whether its COVID-19 advertising was popular,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“In an answer to Written Parliamentary Questions from the ACT Party, Jacinda Ardern said the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet spent $252,945 on both quantitative and qualitative research, including opinion polls and focus groups on the Unite Against COVID-19 campaign.  

“Jacinda Ardern has always told New Zealanders the Government will “listen to the science” but the polling shows it’s more interested in public perception.

This is a Prime Minister who likes to be liked. She’s a poll driven Prime Minister who puts political popularity ahead of doing the right thing.

“Jacinda Ardern now needs to answer whether she kept the Trans-Tasman Bubble closed for six months longer than necessary due to scientific advice or polling advice?

“Did she decide to exclude RSE workers from COVID-free countries because of the risk of COVID-19 spreading or because it suited a narrative?

“Will future decision making, like when to reconnect with the rest of the world be driven by focus groups or scientific advice?

“Did she go back and forward on mask wearing because of scientific advice or polling?  

“Many times ACT has asked the Government to share the information it uses to make decisions, and the framework for future decisions with the public. We asked them to treat New Zealanders like adults, bringing us into their confidence. We now know that they don't want to release a framework so they can be guided by focus groups.  The Government has been slow to release the advice, including the Skegg Report. Are they focus grouping the findings before it’s released?

“One has to ask, is the real reason we do not have plan to get our way of life back is that the Government is still focus grouping it.

“It’s time to start treating New Zealanders like adults. Let us know what’s going on in a timely way. Be upfront with us as issues arise instead of relying on polls and focus groups. Our COVID response is more important than Jacinda Ardern’s popularity.”