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New leadership same old tactics

Written By: - Date published: 8:32 am, May 27th, 2020 - 24 comments
Categories: debt / deficit, Economy, jobs, Media, national, same old national, spin, unemployment, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:

National is again  running dishonest and misleading advertisements.

This is the latest example.

The Greek information is based on data released in November 2019.  The page has this rider:

Due to the high level of uncertainty in current global economic conditions, the IMF does not offer projections for this economic indicator at this time. Data will be updated as soon as they are available.

Clearly the estimate is pre Covid and assumes business as usual.

The New Zealand figure is taken from the Budget documents and is a projection of the post Covid spend necessitated to keep the economy going.

To show the difference you just have to look at the current figures.  The latest figures I can find for Greece suggests that its debt is currently $38,141 per head of population and New Zealand’s is $7,515.  Greece’s predicted figure is clearly predicated on a slight pay down of debt or an increase in population or a combination of both.

The suggestion that New Zealand will be doing worse than debt burdened Greece presumes that Covid 19 will have no effect on Greece’s economy and the Greek government will not be doing anything.  This premise is clearly false.

You would hope that National had learned from previous advertisements being ruled misleading.  There was recently a third decision given by the Broadcasting Standards Authority ruling against the accuracy of its advertising.

I covered the first two strikes in this post from last year.

Strike one was when it claimed that cars will be up to $6,000 more expensive when the reality was the maximum fee was $3,000 and this would only be paid in very few cases.

Strike two was claiming that the Regional Growth Fund was receiving 75 times more funding than the Pharmac increase.  The majority of the board thought the comparison, which involved comparing a four year spend with a a one year spend, was misleading.

Its third strike is this decision of the Advertising Standards Authority where it was held that claims that National had created 10,000 jobs a month with the implication that this was during its term in government was misleading.

The offending advertisement was divided into red and blue boxes.  The red box claimed that there were “1,000 more on the dole every month under Labour”, with source information in fine print. The blue box says, “Nearly 10,000 more jobs every month under National”.

Here it is.

The first thing to notice is different data is being compared.  Under Labour unemployment, until recently, had tracked down.  From October 2017 to March 2020 (30 months) there were a hundred thousand more kiwis employed in jobs.  This is 3,300 per month.  Instead of that National used the figure for people going on the dole.  In a country with a growing population using absolute figures can be deceiving.

What was really dishonest was National’s suggestion that it had created more than 10,000 jobs every month during its reign.

It did, but as shown by the small print only during the period from quarter 3 2015 to quarter 3 2017.  The population actually grew by 185,000 at that time so an increase in jobs was inevitable.

The most egregious feature of this is that the figure is so cherry picked.  The ad should have said “[n]early 10,000 more jobs every month under National for a two year period of its 9 years in power” but this would have lost all of its effect.

I suspect someone will take the latest advertisement to the ASA.  But I really hope that we do not have an election campaign where National produces clearly misleading advertisements just to churn up controversy and clicks.  There has to be a better way.

24 comments on “New leadership same old tactics ”

  1. Dennis Frank 1

    The better way would require us to abandon adversarial democracy by switching to collaborative instead. Trouble is, the former is hard-wired into our constitution, eh?

    So as long as we're stuck with politics as team sport, teams will play dirty when they can get away with it. Labour currently strong-arming the Greens is a mild example.

    Propaganda effectiveness is based on framing that misleads – always has been. So your complaint really ought to be directed against the establishment and the antique system it clings to, right? Wishing the Nats would become nicer people is a lame evasion.

    • We should not be "wishing" that the Nats are honest-it should be required.

      The Guardian ran a fact-checker in the UK election similar to this post. We need this to happen somewhere in the NZ media for the September election.

  2. millsy 2

    National's agenda, plain as day, is austerity. Throw a few numbers out, mention Greece and scare people who aren't savvy enough to realise that the country isn't actually going to be towed away because of this. In the meantime, National will cut wages, close schools, close hospitals, close the rail network and cut benefits, all while the wealthy are sheilded.

  3. Descendant Of Smith 3

    I'd question the more jobs as well. It used to be that the net increase or decrease in total jobs was used. After National did the "more than 150,000 new jobs" bullshit from one election to the next job losses were disregarded in the calculation – so no offsetting of job losses.

    Assuming they use IRD's PAYE data to work this out it would be interesting to see what counts as new job e.g. does a change of ownership of a firm resulting in PAYE change of employer come across as a new job?

    Then it got worse with the bullshit about the casino jobs where they eventually admitted that the number of new jobs was worked out by counting one job for ten years as ten jobs.

    There was good reason to count job growth by net increase (total jobs minus people leaving jobs by people starting jobs) cause it was pretty clear what was being counted.

    If you are just counting "new" jobs what are you actually counting? New starts does not equal new jobs for instance. And what value are 100 new jobs if 120 jobs vanished?

    • KJT 3.1

      Every time someone was sacked, and replaced, under the 90 day law, was counted as a new job.

      • greywarshark 3.1.1

        The Stats Dept comes under James Shaw doesn't it? How much pull does a Minister actually have on 'their' Dept? Is it like a secondary school teacher trying to get the pupils to concentrate, use their minds and turn out original material that answers the right questions?

        • Descendant Of Smith

          I don't think it is stats fault. They publish enough data for these things to be seen for what they are. Their info share portal is great.


          It the lack of intelligent and neutral thinking by those who should be asking the questions e.g. the opposition and the media.

          You'll find the IRD data on total wage and salary jobs there for instance.

          The "new" jobs question was just the way National decided to frame the information. The other big and obvious one last government – which showed a clear media bias – was the sole parent numbers. Everyone knew that National put a whole lot of sole parents onto Job Seeker Benefit (and widows and those who were sick) but quite happily let the various Ministers spout on about lowest number of sole parents ever. When Labour was in government they were constantly accused by the media of reducing dole numbers by putting people onto sickness benefit which just proves the media know about such jiggery pokery. National got a free ride on this for 8 or so years – didn't hear one media person, nor one opposition person, nor one advocacy group point this out. It wasn't a secret that National had moved those sole parents either – it was an announced policy change.

          Labour of course have chosen not to move those sole parents back, including those who are job seekers raising babies for daring to have a baby while on benefit.

          Bet no one in the media, here posting on The Standard or in any advocacy groups has any idea at all how many sole parents are classed as job seekers. I certainly don't it isn't published anywhere that I can find.

  4. Anker 4

    Maybe Pugh is fu..ing useless! But that is the kind version of it

    • aj 4.1

      Those adverts are not a "PLAN"

      Todd promised us a plan.

    • roy cartland 4.2

      Heh since Simon whatshisname said that, that is literally all I know about her.

      • Matiri 4.2.1

        Pugh is a list MP in my electorate, West Coast-Tasman and pretty invisible. I know very little about her either!!

  5. Tricledrown 5

    Greek govt debt at 183% to GDP 2024.

    Greek economy about 1/2 the size of NZ per head of population.

    NZ govt debt 50% max 2024.
    Pugh is f/ing useless.
    Even if we get to 50% debt we will still have one of the lowest govt debt in the world.

  6. greywarshark 6

    Planet Apple compared to Planet Orange, connected by Dr Who and the time-travelling Tardis. I think the Gnats have been watching too much television and its reality shows; or you could say – National's lack of reality and understanding shows.

    Earth calling spaceship National Party – Your time is up, please bring vehicle back to Station NZ!

  7. mac1 7

    Thanks for the heads up on what will surely be a developing trend in the politics of misinformation and propaganda.

    I hope that measures are taken to limit this foul practice and to publicise the misuse of it.

    Is this 'graphic' only publicised by Maureen Pugh or is it more widely spread over the National Party network and out into the wider social media?

  8. Tiger Mountain 8

    Thanks Micky, informative piece. Matt King (Nat Northland) posts some shockers too, am guessing other Nats do the same.

    The ads quoted are reasonably sophisticated examples of deliberate deception by NZ National Party staff. Having to cross reference years etc. shows that merely reading the ad “fine print” will not necessarily reveal the truth behind the highlighted claim.

    Propaganda can be powerful as “Stevie’s Hole” from 2017 showed, costing Labour a couple of percent at least after media repetition.

  9. "But I really hope that we do not have an election campaign where National produces clearly misleading advertisements just to churn up controversy and clicks."

    That's precisely what Bridges said he was going to do. They are so desperate that they'll do anything at all to derail the status quo

  10. greywarshark 10

    From what I have read about Maureen Pugh she is probably a good organiser of some things and knows a bit about local affairs. But who in the National Party is interested in knowing about the economics of the country. They want to drive it like their car. Turn the key and get started and let's go where they want.

    English has talked down the economy to the unknowing for years, referring to people who own houses and explaining it on the basis of being like household debt. This despite the fact that National have been trying to run the country like a business, NZ Inc. which operates completely differently. But because the story comes from a leader in the nation, National like to believe it, and as long as they are comfortable they choose not to think anything out for themselves. Pugh is just following that line of passing off figures, graphs and stats as being something that anyone comprehends at first glance. Who is going to say but, but what about this, I can't understand it?

  11. ScottGN 11

    Newshub is running with more leaks from within National tonight. Apparently they’ve set up an ‘intelligence unit’ to dig dirt on opponents for the election campaign. Some within the caucus are worried it’s black ops and dirty politics all over again. Brownlee, of course, denies everything.


    • Robert Guyton 11.1

      "National says its new intelligence unit is completely different and it's promising to play nice."

      Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

      I'm a believer!

  12. Frank the Tank 12

    So you believe its a reasonable position that our debt to GDP in 4 years will be similar to Greece's present debt to GDP position. The same Greece that is effectively bankrupt, reliant on EU funds and has circa 20% unemployment?

    • mickysavage 12.1

      At a time like this yes I do. Besides the GDP of both countries is about the same but Greece has twice as many people. Our GSP per head of population is twice theirs and borrowing is more affordable.

      • Frank the Tank 12.1.1

        Then get ready for the same structural problems that Greece has and we won't have the EU to bail us out.

        There is a lot of delusion out there regarding the NZ economy's ability to bounce out of this quickly. Unless a magical unicorn occurs with agricultural commodity prices or we indeed turn back on the South East Asian immigration ponzi scheme this will be a long term downturn and downright depression. This is irrespective of which part(ies) form a government in 3 months.

  13. Fireblade 13

    National MP Maureen Pugh blasted for 'misleading' economic statistics comparing Greece and New Zealand.


  14. Incognito 14

    Please, don’t ‘demonise’ poor Pugh. She just (had to) put her name to it, which is the way it is in the National Party. If you take one for the team, you’ll get rewarded with a ‘high’ ranking on the Party List. If you say something outracious, you’ll get bonus points. Of course, it helps if you’re as white as fresh-fallen snow and bring in donations split into ‘small’ amounts.

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