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Taxpayer Victory: Govt’s Three Waters Ads Canned For Straying Into Propaganda

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is welcoming the cancellation of the taxpayer-funded Three Waters ad campaign.

BusinessDesk reports that the Government’s $3.5 million Three Waters ad campaign has been canned early due to concerns from the Public Service Commission that the ads were ‘straying into advocating government policy rather than explaining policy’.

Responding to this revelation, Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says:

“Councils and ratepayers up and down the country have told us they were appalled by what they – and we – considered condescending taxpayer-funded propaganda. Now we learn that the tsar of public service propriety shared these concerns.”

“We’re glad that the Public Service Commission has stepped in, but it feels like too little, too late. The Three Waters ads were allowed to run for months, during a highly sensitive council engagement process, with a budget of millions. And the Government’s Three Waters propaganda site, backed by taxpayer-funded Google ads, is still active.”

“The Commission needs to issue a firm public statement explaining that taxpayer-funded propaganda is never acceptable, that the Three Waters campaign has crossed the line, and that whichever official who signed off on the campaign needs to step down. In short, heads should roll.”

BusinessDesk has also reported that officials at the Department of Internal Affairs have withheld the release of details of the campaign’s marketing and communications proposal, after taking 50 working days to respond to an information request.

“This raises obvious questions,” says Mr Houlbrooke. “Is the marketing proposal being kept secret because it reveals in plain language that the campaign was always intended to influence political opinion?”

BusinessDesk has now asked Three Waters officials to reconsider their redactions. “We have now flagged this issue with the Ombudsman,” says Mr Houlbrooke. “If officials fail to front up with the documents that led to this disgraceful propaganda campaign within 20 working days, we’ll refer the matter to the Ombudsman for official investigation.”

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