National appeal dismissed by ASA over 'misleading' Facebook ad

Anna Whyte
Source: 1News

National's appeal to the Advertising Standards Authority has been dismissed, with a complaint against a Facebook advertisement around low emission vehicles upheld. 

The Opposition leader said fuel prices – in terms of tax – increased less under the nine years of the previous National government than it had in this term.

"The Appeal Board said the advertisement was misleading because it made a blanket factual statement, without any qualifications," the decision read. 

The advertisement had 'Labour's Car Tax' as a heading, with a photo of Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter on the left, below the text: 'What they said - "Small Fee"'. On the right side of the ad was written, 'What they did - $3,000 (with a strikethrough), Now $6,000'. 

The Government proposed in July 2019 to give discounts for electric, hybrid and fuel-efficient vehicles and put a fee on high emitters sold in the country for the first time. It would begin in 2021. Vehicle suppliers would also be required to import more fuel-efficient cars. 

"While the advertisement describes 'Labour’s Car Tax' as '$6,000', it does not provide any context to explain how this figure was calculated," the decision said. 

"The board noted the comment from the advertiser in their response that they have based the figure on the example of 'a 2019 Nissan Patrol, being imported as a used car in 2025'." 

"The board said the advertisement was misleading because it does not provide any indication that this figure does not apply generally, to all cars, but to a specific example."

The board unanimously ruled the advertisement was misleading. 

"The Complaints Board said there was no evidence the Clean Car Standard scheme would translate to a cost for the consumer as the advertisement claimed. The board said the proposal was a penalty scheme for vehicle suppliers that failed to meet their emissions target.

"It said the initiative appeared to encourage suppliers to choose a fleet which balanced out high and low carbon emission vehicles. The Complaints Board said the substantiation provided by the advertiser in this case was insufficient for the level of claim made in the advertisement." 

On January 31, the ASA dismissed complaints against three other National Party advertisements. At the time, a National Party spokesperson said they welcomed the decisions. 

"We were simply doing what a good Opposition does, holding the Government to account for its failures."