24 Sep 2020

National MP's ad under investigation after complaints it's misleading

7:54 am on 24 September 2020

Tukituki MP Lawrence Yule is defending billboard and newspaper ads claiming he has secured funding for millions of dollars worth of infrastructure projects for Hawke's Bay.

Lawrence Yule's billboard has received complaints.

Lawrence Yule's billboard has received complaints. Photo: RNZ / Anusha Bradley

The Advertising Standards Authority has received two complaints relating to billboards dotted around Hastings that feature a picture of Yule alongside the words: "$500 million new build of Hawke's Bay Hospital commencing 2025".

The Authority was also investigating a complaint about a full-page newspaper ad in which Yule said he had "achieved a record $800 million commitment to infrastructure projects in the region."

This included "$300 million safety upgrades of Napier-Taupō Road, Napier-Wairoa Road and Hawke's Bay Expressway commencing 2021."

A member of the public told RNZ she had filed a complaint because the funding pledges were all announced by National leader Judith Collins during a recent visit to Hawke's Bay and would only be brought to fruition if National won the election.

"I feel that the statement on the billboards and advertisements is misleading and implies the $500m for a Hawke's Bay Hospital is set in stone as opposed to being an election promise.

"This is compounded as it comes on the tail of the government's recent funding boost of $14.2m to redevelop Hastings Hospital," the woman, who did not want to be named, said.

Yule disagreed, saying here was nothing wrong with the ads as it was obvious the statements were election pledges only.

"They're National Party billboards, National Party ads, with National Party logos... my logo on them... it's a commitment from the National Party and myself to make it happen and we stand by it."

Judith Collins said she had not seen the ads but agreed with her MP.

"I can tell you he has achieved the approval of the National Party and commitment for us to do that," Collins said.

It was not the first time Yule had been in hot water this campaign.

In July, the Electoral Commission ruled billboards promoting him as the voice of Tukituki were in fact candidate advertisements and must count towards his election spend limit.

Yule later put his mistake down to receiving conflicting advice.

The Advertising Standards Authority said it was assessing the current complaint and a decision on whether it would be pursued would made in the next few days.

The Authority has received 78 advertising complaints so far this election, of which nine have been upheld or were being appeal.

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