Official Government website used for campaigning

There is supposed to be, or should be, a clear demarcation between Government operations and party promotions and campaigning. Ministers frequently push boundaries this with self promotion and party promotion littering official Ministerial releases.

But I think that including a Labour Partyongress speech launching their election campaign is an abuse of intent and purpose, given that the website is The Official website of the New Zealand Government.

Some of it is subtle, like this from last week:  PGF top-up for QE Health in Rotorua

The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is investing $1.5 million to ensure QE Health in Rotorua can proceed with its world class health service and save 75 existing jobs, Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau announced today.

“This announcement today provides an additional much needed economic boost to the regional economy and complements all the positive investments this Coalition Government has made in this region of late, including last week’s announcements with the Deputy Prime Minister the Rt Hon Winston Peters,  and this week’s infrastructure announcements made by Ministers Grant Robertson and Shane Jones,” Fletcher Tabuteau said.

That managed to name drop for four NZ First MPs. Another from the same day:PGF funds tourism boost in Northland

The Provincial Growth Fund is investing more than $7.5 million in Northland ventures to combat the economic impact of the COVID-19 virus, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones have announced.

Why did Peters need to be mentioned in that other than for self promotion?

Similar in New investment creates over 2000 jobs to clean up waterways:

A package of 23 projects across the country will clean up waterways and deliver over 2000 jobs Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Environment Minister David Parker announced today.

It’s common to take subtle swipes at opponents, as in Keeping ACC levies steady until 2022:

“The previous Government increased levies during the global financial crisis only to find they were too high in following years. We are taking a cautious approach and ensuring we do not add to pressure on businesses and New Zealanders where it’s not necessary.

It’s hard to see why three party leaders are used to promote except to promote the three parties in government: Jobs budget to get economy moving again

Investments to both save and create jobs in Budget 2020 mean unemployment can be back to pre COVID-19 levels within two years and could see the economy growing again as early as next year.

The centrepiece of Budget 2020, Rebuilding Together, is the establishment of a $50 billion COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund which will target stimulus investment at protecting existing jobs, creating new ones and provide support for workers to retrain and for business to survive as well as targeting support to those sectors most affected by the virus.

“The Government’s decision to go hard and early to defeat the virus means we are now in a strong position to quickly get our economy moving again,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

“New Zealanders have made incredible sacrifices and suffered incredible loss in our collective battle against COVID-19. It is vital that Budget 2020 builds on restoring independence in every sense, to every day New Zealanders by creating jobs for those who have had them stripped away by this viral invasion,” Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said.

The Coalition Government is using every tool it has to meet the immediate needs of New Zealanders post-lockdown, while balancing the long-term goal of a vibrant future economy.

“This Budget will support the people most affected by the global downturn,” Green Party Co-leader James Shaw said.

Labour have frequently promoted a sledge of National with the meme “nine years of neglect” – their are 266 Google hits of the phrase on the Beehive website. Some date back to 2002, showing that the Clark Government used the same term about the previous National Government, but ten hits are from the last 12 months and 27 since the current Government took over.

Over the last 12 months:

  • Labour Party mentioned 58 times
  • New Zealand First mentioned 48 times
  • Green party mentioned 43 times

The Government website includes speeches made by Ministers, which if relevant to their portfolios and responsibilities is fair enough.

But I think it’s taking things too far including Ardern’s speech to the Labour Party congress/conference in the weekend: Speech to Labour Party Congress 2020

This speech was made to Labour Party members at a Labour Party event, and launched the Labour Party election campaign. It closed with Labour’s election slogan “Let’s keep moving”.

This is not Government business and I think it is an abuse of the intent of an official Government website to be used to specifically promote one party that happens to be in power.

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  1. John J Harrison

     /  7th July 2020

    Well, colour me surprised.
    What else can you expect from the COL ?
    It is nothing but blatant corruption on an industrial scale.

    • Blazer

       /  7th July 2020

      Pales in comparison to getting the S.I.S involved to smear political opponents though….sure you’ll agree.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  7th July 2020

        “Smearing” with the truth, you are complaining about? Just as you do with Bennett?

        Lefties hate the truth. It is so unfair. And then complain about Trump.

        • Duker

           /  7th July 2020

          The truth wasnt what the SIS with the backing of political actors in the PMs office said
          You clearly have looked at the Inpsector Generals enquiry
          ” In particular, I found that the Director and – so far as they were aware of it – the senior staff should have recognised that they had provided incomplete, inaccurate and/or misleading information that caused harm to the Leader of the Opposition and that the Director ought to have acted to correct that error. ”

          Incomplete, inaccurate, misleading.

          “I did find that NZSIS information was disclosed by a member of the staff of the
          PMO to Cameron Slater for political purposes, ”
          That would be under Keys general instructions to cooperate with Slater

          You wouldnt know the truth if you put a frame on it and hung it in a gallery


          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  7th July 2020

            Case in point: Lefties accuse SIS of not briefing them and when the SIS defends themselves by pointing out they had the Lefties switch to complaining they hadn’t bothered to read the documents so hadn’t been briefed properly and then complain the SIS hadn’t briefed them properly and hadn’t apologised for defending themselves against the initial false allegation.

            • Duker

               /  7th July 2020

              Rubbish …you arent making any sense at all. Goff wasnt briefed on these activities

              152. Despite the high level of public controversy, there was no consideration of whether the Leader of the Opposition should receive a briefing at that time and none was given. The NZSIS staff interviewed during this inquiry were also unaware of the statement made by Mr Goff later on 20 July that he had not received any briefing on the issue until that statement was raised by PMO on the afternoon of 22 July.

              Thats where you go wrong believing Whaleoils version rather than the truth , the Enquiry found the NZSIS briefing was inaccurate. And when it became public through Slater allowed the misleading version to continue.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  7th July 2020

              Wrong briefing. Get with it.

  2. Duker

     /  7th July 2020

    Governments publicizing existing policy before elections is common. New policy would be electioneering.

    Luckily we can go back to the old website, as I have done before and found Goldsmith himself publicising existing policy hand outs a week before election in 2017

    Victoria University of Wellington and the University of Auckland will be the first to take advantage of the Government’s $35 million investment in ‘Entrepreneurial Universities’, part of the Innovative New Zealand initiative in Budget 2016, Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Paul Goldsmith announced today.

    and again 13 Sept 2017
    “Funding has been awarded for 68 new science research projects that will benefit New Zealand environmentally, economically, and socially, Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith announced today.
    The funding, totalling $248 million over the next five years, has been invested through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) 2017 Endeavour Fund, which received an $81.9 million funding boost over four years in Budget 2017.”

    Thats an own goal PG. Previous governments publicise the handouts during the pre election period . Any one whos saying different thats Labour shouldnt do so doesnt understand previous elections

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  7th July 2020

      Complaining about Government corruption is an own goal? Possibly for you, but not for the public.

      • Duker

         /  7th July 2020

        History shows the previous government doing exactly the same thing from beehive.govt a week or so before the election…..
        I wouldnt complain then and its the same now its because thats how it works based on precedent. Its the advantage of incumbancy…a fancy word meaning they won last time.

        PG made a major error of fact in raising this at all let alone calling it corruption…its a continuing series by many commentators of throwing mud at NZ First and just hoping some sticks , but not proving it .

        • I didn’t call it corruption.

          It isn’t targeting NZ First specifically, there are examples for all parties currently in Government (for minor misuse). I suggested the biggest problem problem was Labour posting Party (not Government) speeches on the website.

          Your over sensitivity to criticism of NZ First is showing.

          I’m not surprised that then last Government might have done similar, but I still think it is an abuse of the use of an official Government website.

          Past misuse and abuse doesn’t (or shouldn’t apart from for squirrellers) excuse current misuse and abuse.

          • Gezza

             /  7th July 2020

            It seems to me the lines between party propagandising & the government publicising policy are pretty blurry these days. It’s common to link to Ministerial press releases about policy announcements, but Ministers have usually been careful with their wording to stick to the policy.

            I don’t think Ministerial press releases on policy announcements should sledge previous governments. They should be about explaining or summarising the policy.

            I don’t think Party campaign speeches should be on that website.

            But whether referring to other Ministers is party political material & thus a no no is less clear to me.

          • Duker

             /  7th July 2020

            “I think it is an abuse of the intent of an official Government website to be used to specifically promote one party that happens to be in power.”

            Its not an ‘abuse’ , it merely is a record of the ministerial statements/spin, its always been. I think saying ‘Beehive’ is the intent to be ministers waffle and puffery. is similar for Trump and before him Obama
            Its a long bow to out of the blue decide just this year it shouldnt happen when its a good record of what ministers did say and when.

            Harrison said it was corruption, my mistake. As usual hes always wrong

  3. What Pete quotes sounds very like propaganda to me; the party praising itself and making grandiose claims about what it’s going to do.

    This is not the place for it; imagine the squawks if National had done it and ended with the party slogan and PM’s speech.

    • Duker

       /  7th July 2020

      KC. Thats what beehive.govt is for and has done so over many governments, including my example a week before the last election from Goldsmith .
      Im not saying there is anything wrong with a government doing so just before the election nor that a link of it being kept on the Ministerial website of record.
      You should use it to research current and past governments , give it ago. Its a false negative to assume without proof that there would complaints when ‘national did it ‘

      • “ is the website for official information from Government ministers. ”

        Party conference speeches and campaign speeches are not official Government business or information. There should be a clear separation between the business of governing and political party affairs.

        • Duker

           /  7th July 2020

          Maybe showing the information below the one line you showed might be more informative
          But this is in its entirety

 is the official website of the New Zealand Government. On this website you’ll find information about:

          Government ministers, including their latest media releases and speeches, their responsibilities, and their contact details
          major Government initiatives and policies
          previous Governments, including media releases and speeches from previous Government terms.

          “Government ministers, including their latest media releases and speeches

          we can look back to August 2017 and a Ms Bennett who announced ‘applications open today’ during the election campaign for the election 6 weeks later.
          “Tourism Minister Paula Bennett is calling on councils to apply for co-funding from the new $100 million Tourism Infrastructure Fund which opens today.
          Budget 2017 invests $100 million over four years for the development of visitor-related public infrastructure such as carparks, freedom camping facilities and sewerage and water works.
          “Councils with infrastructure needs caused by high visitor numbers should be getting their applications in,” Mrs Bennett says.”
          It was clearly a campaign geared press release to give the government publicity. And as she was a Minister so it should appear on the Ministerial Website. I dont see her asking for votes or mentioning the upcoming election at all.

        • And the party election slogan should not be on it.

          I think it’s fair to say that had National done this, people would have objected to it. It’s not the place for vote-catching.

  1. Official Government website used for campaigning – Make New Zealand Great Again

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