18 Feb 2024
National Party campaign chair Gerry Brownlee says taxpayers deserve a good answer to why the Instagram page for the Unite for Recovery website they’re paying for – and which is staffed by public servants expected to be neutral – is following just one Instagram page, the personal account of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
“Why is the newly re-branded Unite for Recovery Instagram page run by the neutral National Crisis Management Centre effectively promoting Jacinda Ardern’s campaign Instagram page?” Mr Brownlee asks.
“Hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders visit this site to get official Government news and resources on responding to the virus.
“Once there users are encouraged to get the latest updates on the response via the site’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram feeds.
“When you visit an Instagram page you see at the top the number of posts, followers and which accounts, if any, the page host is following.
“In the case of the Unite for Recovery page that is presently 239 posts, 41,900 followers and the account itself is following just one other account.
“You can’t see whose the account is, but if you’re curious and click on it you’re taken to Jacinda Ardern’s personal Instagram feed.
“How many New Zealanders have visited Unite for Recovery in the past week and clicked through to the Prime Minister’s social media?
“How many have started following her as a result thanks to this monopoly, taxpayer-aided position, 99 days out from an election?
“And when did Jacinda Ardern learn that she was the recipient of this potential new channel of social media followers?
“Why didn’t she say it was inappropriate and have the Unite for Recovery account stop following her?
“I have written to the State Services Commissioner this afternoon to ask how this occurred and what he intends to do about it.
“One way or another it’s clear Labour is already tilting the playing field to its advantage using taxpayer resources – and it’s far from the first time it’s done this sort of thing during an election campaign.