Kupu whakataki Introduction
Te mahi i ngā whakahaere kāwanatanga Public servants at work
Mō te kaimahi tari kāwanatanga i waho atu i ngā hāora mahi Public servants outside work
Ngā kawenga o ngā tari o te kāwanatanga Responsibilities of public sector agencies
Te pānuitanga, te whakaaturanga me te pāpāho Public sector advertising, publicity and the media
Ngā kaimahi tari kāwanatanga me te Pōti Nui The public sector and the general election
Ngā tukanga ā-kāwanatanga mō te pōtitanga Government processes before, during and after an election
Ngā Horopaki Appendix A: Case Studies
A public sector agency runs an advertising campaign to promote business opportunities in New Zealand and is aimed at small business owners. The campaign uses the slogan “Making NZ prosperous”.
The use of emotive slogans to advertise a vision for New Zealand’s future is unlikely to be appropriate, particularly during the pre-election period. A more appropriate slogan would be “Connecting business owners with investment opportunities and advice”.
Principle that applies
Government advertising should be presented in a matter which is accurate, factual, truthful, fair, honest, impartial, lawful and proper.
Government advertising that simply presents a vision for New Zealand’s future is not a matter for the Public Service to determine or to advertise. It is especially problematic in the pre-election period as it could be seen to amount to publicity for party political purposes.
Government advertising should always have a clear ‘line of sight’ to the business of government. For example, advertising should inform the public about government services or set out the public’s entitlements and responsibilities.
It is acceptable for an agency to inform the public about government policy. However, advocating for that policy is the Minister’s role, particularly where the policy is a matter of current public debate. Read Chapter 3 of the Cabinet Manual
During the pre-election period, an agency launches an advertising campaign to raise awareness of grants and loans available for purchasing electric bikes, vehicles and mobility scooters. The campaign forms part of New Zealand’s environmental strategy.
Generally, advertising of this nature will be appropriate where it is addressing an identified and justifiable need for information by the target audience at this time, and the content meets the standards expected of government advertising.
Principle that applies
Government advertising may inform the public of government policies, services available to them, and any entitlements or responsibilities. These may be proposed, new, revised or existing.
During the pre-election period, there is a heightened risk of a perception that public funds are being used to finance publicity for party political purposes. It may be prudent to run advertising outside this pre-election period, either by delaying or bringing forward the advertising, unless there is an identified and justifiable need for the information during this period.
Government advertising must meet the following standards:
- deal only with matters that the Government has direct responsibility for
- be accurate, factual, truthful, fair, honest, and impartial
- use unbiased and objective language that is free from partisan promotion of government policy or political argument
- be lawful and proper, and
- be undertaken only where there is an identified and justifiable need for the information.
An agency receives a request from its Minister – who is responsible for trees – for information about the number of trees planted over the past 10 years in the Minister’s electorate. However, the agency only holds information about trees in each region, and does not hold information about trees in each electorate.
In this case, it is unclear if the information is needed for the Minister’s portfolio responsibilities. The agency also does not hold the information broken down in the way requested and has no need to create this information. As such, the agency should contact the Minister’s office to clarify the request.
Principles that apply
The Cabinet Manual makes it clear that, before and after an election, the incumbent Minister is responsible for ensuring that any requests for advice or information from public sector agencies are for the purposes of the Minister’s portfolio responsibilities and not for party political purposes.
While agencies must support the work of the government, the political neutrality of the Public Service must be protected throughout the election period in providing that support.
Public sector agencies and public servants must not use official resources for political party purposes and must not undertake electioneering work for Ministers.
Agencies may need to clarify an information request or seek more details from the Minister’s office, in order to determine whether the information being requested is held by the agency, and whether it is for the purposes of the Minister’s portfolio responsibilities or for party political purposes.
If it is for the Minister’s portfolio responsibilities, then the agency can provide the information or advice requested.
If it is for party political purposes then the request should be made to the agency by the Minister and dealt with under the Official Information Act 1982.