Electoral Commission on Tui

The Electoral Commission has saved me from becoming the most hated man in NZ, and found that the Tui billboards are not election advertisements – but only just!

I asked the EC to rule on the Tui billboards after reading their determination that the EMA ads against KiwiSaver were election advertisements because they can not take into account the intent of the ad – only the impact.

The interesting thing is how close a call they say it was:

As a result the Electoral Commission formed the view that the billboard in question sits just outside of what could reasonably be regarded as encouraging or persuading voters to vote or not to vote in a particular manner, and is therefore not an election advertisement for the purposes of the Electoral Finance Act.

They went out of their way to say the billboard sits “just outside” being an illegal election advertisement. I think it shows hiw far reaching the EFA is, even though it has stopped just short.

Also the EC seems to suggest that Tui escaped only because of their unique place in NZ society:

While there is no exemption for humour as such, because of the long-standing and unique
background of the Tui advertisement series, the Commission does not consider that the billboard in question is likely to have an abiding impact on the thinking of members of the public.

In other words this is not much of a precedent for other satire.