The Greens have been forced into a swift apology and backdown on an attack ad they ran against the National Party leader Simon Bridges.
The ad, posted on Twitter by the Green Party, was designed to highlight his stance on electric cars, portraying it as anti-environmental and mocking his accent.
This follows a protracted debate between Mr Bridges and Green Party minister, Julie Anne Genter, about the government’s policy to encourage the use of electric and hybrid vehicles earlier this month.
The ad shows Mr Bridges in a car-yard with a voiceover in a broad Kiwi accent, talking about how angry he is that the government is making climate friendly cars more affordable.
“Look, I love electric cars, but now the government is making them affordable – it just makes me so angry.
“I mean look at that one, and that one, they are climate polluting gas guzzlers, who’s going to want them now?
“Doesn’t it make you mad?
“Cheaper cars, I mean, and fixing the climate – can’t we just wait until it’s too late? That’s my plan and that’s why you should trust me.”
It also takes a pot shot at his political support – “prices are down, emissions are down, my polling is down”.
The ad, authorised by the party co-leader James Shaw, was posted this afternoon but within hours was removed from the Greens’ Twitter feed and replaced with an apology.
“Kia ora. It’s been raised that a video that we made using satire to poke fun at another political party’s attack ads was of poor taste and lowered the tone of the debate.”
“To our supporters: we heard you, and we’ve deleted the post and apologise for causing offence,” said another post on Twitter.
On his way into Parliament Mr Shaw told reporters the Greens believed National itself had indulged in “negative campaigning” and spreading misinformation.
“It’s the kind of campaigning that you saw in the Trump campaign and so on, and we felt that using humour to call attention to it and say it was unacceptable…do we want to be that kind of country?”
The intention was not to mock Mr Bridges’ accent, said Mr Shaw.
“We had to get an actor who could accurately depict his accent and we got someone who had impersonated a number of members of Parliament.”
However, on his way back out once question time had finished, Ms Shaw had changed his tune, admitting “it didn’t go well”.
“As they say explaining is losing and if you have to explain the joke it’s not as funny as you thought it was.”
The party pulled the ad after getting “feedback” from members and supporters, he said.
If Mr Bridges thought the ad was mocking his accent and had taken offence then Mr Shaw said he’d apologise.
“Negative ads is not the sort of thing we want to see in New Zealand.”
When asked what he thought about the ad, Mr Bridges said he “found it funny” even though others were not amused.
“Julie Anne Genter said last week climate change was no laughing matter, they’ve changed on that… we’re holding them to account on tax, they don’t like it.”