ASA ruling could impact local democracy
Greater Wellington Regional Council disagrees with the Advertising Standards Authoritys (ASA) ruling and is disappointed that some of the Hutt City Councils complaint has been upheld. The council is considering its response.
This decision risks having serious implications for democracy and could drastically restrict how local government bodies operate and what they can say in advertising, says council chair Fran Wilde.
The decision by the ASA is based on factual errors, and poses a real risk to robust political debate. For these reasons we need to consider whether to appeal.
We do not believe that we have misrepresented the Local Government Commission report. The case for change is clear, and it applies to Hutt City as much as any other part of the region.
The Authority points out in its ruling expression of opinion in advocacy advertising was an essential and desirable part of the functioning of a democratic society. GWRC believes our summary accurately portrayed the case for change described in great detail in the Local Government Commissions draft proposal.
Each part of our region will struggle in the future to pay for upgrades to water and wastewater infrastructure and to roads. These are real issues and they were highlighted in the advertisement. We should be openly discussing these issues as a community, not shying away from them because they are difficult.
We believe this sort of legal nitpicking by Hutt City Council is wasting ratepayer money and distracting us all from addressing how we can ensure a sustainable future for the region.
As we have not yet decided whether we will lodge an appeal, no further comment will be made."
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