Wellington Scoop

Regional Council supercity advertising “misleading … a shambolic con”

News from Hutt City Council
The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint against the Greater Wellington Regional Council on its supercity advertising. The advertising breached the Code of Ethics.

The Authority found the GWRC “had presented its own assumptions and opinions as fact which was misleading and was likely to exploit the lack of knowledge of the reader.”

It judged that the advertisement “had not been prepared with a due sense of social responsibility.”

The advertisement in question invented a non-existent problem with water pipes in Lower Hutt to argue that residents should support a supercity so other people in Wellington could help pay for it.

Tony Stallinger, Chief Executive Officer of Hutt City Council – the complainant in this case – says the problem was completely invented.

“The single reason the Regional Council gives Hutt residents for joining a supercity is a complete fabrication. The campaign for a supercity is a shambolic con.

“GWRC has overstepped the boundaries of democracy – it has tried to fool the public into supporting a supercity. The Advertising Standards Authority’s ruling confirms this.

“The proposed amalgamation into a supercity is one of the largest issues this region has recently faced. The public deserve the respect of explanations and evidence, not made up facts.”

Tony Stallinger says, “We’re also relieved that the ASA found it was incorrect to say Wellington boards would have greater powers than Auckland local boards. This is an important issue for us.”

Last year all 21 Auckland local boards signed an open complaint to the Auckland Mayor that they felt ‘stifled’ and ‘ignored’ by Auckland Council.

Mr Stallinger says the decision will be a blow to the attempts by the GWRC and the Local Government Commission to secure the “demonstrable support” they legally need in the submissions phase of the process – which closes in two weeks.

Greater Wellington Regional Council initiated the proposal for amalgamation of the region’s nine councils in 2012.

The Local Government Commission released its draft proposal in December, and since then has faced criticism for inaccuracy and lack of evidence for its proposed supercity. Earlier this month the Commission admitted an error, and increased the costs estimate by $30million. Transition costs are now estimated to be over $200 million.

Read the ASA’s full 52-page decision here.