Claire Trevett reports:
Jacinda Ardern hired an advertising agency to photograph and film her New York trip.
In the past, New Zealand Prime Ministers have had a staffer from their offices take photos, but Ardern had a crew of three from agency Augusto’s New York office.
They have been used on social media and Ardern told the Herald on Sunday some would also be used for campaign purposes.
So every other PM just has an office staffer double as the photographer. But Jacinda needs three staff from an advertising agency to film here – and hey taxpayers pay the bill.
Ardern defended the decision to contract the agency. She said Augusto’s fee would be paid for out of Labour’s Leaders’ Budget, a pool of taxpayer-funding which political parties can use for communications purposes.
“They did social media for us, they did a bit of work on the last campaign and so they’re doing work for us now, helping build up our stock footage and stuff. Campaign stuff.”
Parliamentary funding can be used for communications yes. But not for “campaign stuff”. This is their campaign agency, funded by taxpayers. So the PM has just admitted they plan to break parliamentary funding rules.
But it gets worse than that.
Look at Labour’s 2017 donation return. They declare a donation of $18,274.41 from Augusto Limited.
So Labour is spending taxpayer money with Augusto, and Augusto donate it back to Labour, or provide campaign services at a discounted rate.
The bottom line is Labour are using taxpayer money to buy services off a company that in turn is a donor to Labour. That is an incredibly bad look.
This is not new territory for Labour. Their general secretary in the late 80s floated the idea of having the Government give some contracts to Labour’s advertising agency, as Labour owed them lots of money and was having trouble paying. The then leader Geoffrey Palmer vetoed the idea.