Complaints about the government’s Three Waters Reform TV adverts have described them as misinformation, untrue and a taxpayer-funded propaganda campaign.
From RNZ (link below)
The government is proposing to amalgamate council-owned drinking, waste and stormwater infrastructure and services into four regional bodies.
The $3.5 million advertising campaign, which began in June 2021, depicts unhappy cartoon people and animals with poor quality water.
A voiceover says the government is working to make sure Kiwis can keep drinking straight from the tap: “Imagine Aotearoa without good water. That’d be rude as, eh? That’s why we’re working with councils to make sure it doesn’t happen for real. So now, instead of them having to shoulder this burden, we’re grouping them together, to keep everybody on the path to better all round water. So our trout will be happy, undies can still be togs, and best of all, us Kiwis can keep drinking straight from the tap, so how about that? Better water is better for everyone.”
In another version, the voiceover describes what “a stink as place that would be”, how showers would be a complete waste of time and awa (rivers) would be ‘all filthy with slime’. The animation included green liquid coming from a “coughing” pipe, with a thermometer in its mouth.
One complainant said it “crosses the line into a propaganda campaign spreading false truths”.
Another described it as “scaremongering and full of misinformation. I find it highly offensive. The government are going to use the water assets they have basically stolen from the ratepayer, to raise a $160 billion loan, doubling our national debt”.
“The ad suggests that the only way to healthy water and healthy drinking water is this amalgamation process,” wrote another complainant. “It seems the ad is intended to ensure that the public puts pressure on councils to take this step, but there is no balancing information provided. The ad seems to me to be an irresponsible, misleading and inappropriate use of taxpayer funds.”
Some viewers took issue with the voiceover depiction of the government working with councils so they did not have to ‘shoulder the burden’ of providing clean water.
“The advertisements are puerile,” one said. “It states it will lift a burden from councils and implies the environment will be better with swimmable rivers and better drinking water. It refers to a trout. I am a district councillor and find these advertisements misleading and essentially untrue.”
“This ad is very misleading, and I consider it to be little more than propaganda,” said another. “The ad states that they are working with councils, which is a blatant lie. The fact is that Three Waters has not been fully set up, or instituted yet. If this is not active, how can they be working with councils to improve water? The answer is, they can’t, and the councils I have asked have confirmed this.”…READ MORE
Martin comments: The Advertising Standards Authority ruled in the context of advocacy advertising, “it was not misleading or offensive”. Having had a number of valid complaints about blatantly misleading advertising overturned (for eg Mercury Energy’s “Kiss Goodbye To Oil” EV misinformation advertising campaign) I believe the ASA is toothless and agenda-driven.