Labour flyer 'threatening' - mum

21:20, Nov 21 2011
Labour children's flyer
STRESSING THE POINT: Inside the flyer.

A Labour flyer personally addressed to mothers on welfare has been labelled "threatening" and prompted a complaint to the Electoral Commission.

However Labour says the pamphlet was justifiable as a response to a "negative, hard-hitting" National policy and it sourced recipients using publicly available information.

The flyer, authorised by the party's General Secretary Chris Flatt, featured a picture of a baby girl and the message "Under National, you won't be around to celebrate her first birthday".

Inside it begins: "Being pregnant is stressful enough without having to wonder if you'll lose your benefit" before listing Labour's family policies.

Hamilton mother Daniela - who didn't want to use her last name - said she was shocked to receive the flyer in the post.

"Especially when it said I wasn't going to be around. That was quite threatening," she said.

"I don't know how they knew I was a mum with a little baby. I know there might be some information open to them but I don't think they should be able to use it like that."

Daniela also forwarded the flyer to the blogger Whale Oil, saying she was upset because she felt like the letter made it sound criminal to head back to work after having a baby.

Labour campaign spokesman Grant Robertson said the letter was supposed to be hard-hitting in response to a hard-hitting policy.

"The only thing that's threatening here is the policy itself. It will force woman back out to work. We believe it's a very negative policy," he said.

Using the electoral roll to search for occupation and gender, Labour had sent the flyers to female beneficiaries, he said.

It wasn't an exact science, and Robertson apologised if some people had received the note and it didn't apply to them.

However, it wasn't the only hard-hitting flyer going around.

"There's another going around with the words "Labour Lies" printed on it. And one in Rongotai saying we're trying to destroy the film industry."

Pictures of the flyer have since appeared on the right-wing blog Whale Oil and also Kiwiblog, where the posts attracted widespread criticism.

One reader said they had since lodged a complaint with the Electoral Commission.

A spokeswoman at the Commission confirmed a complaint had been received and they were investigating.

National's welfare policy would see sole parents asked to seek full-time work when their child turned 14, part-time when they turn five, and the work-testing of all sickness and invalid beneficiaries. If women have a subsequent child while already claiming a benefit they will have to look for work when that child is one year old.

Labour children's flyer
TARGETING MUMS: The personally addressed Labour flyer.

The Commission had received nine complaints about flyers and pamphlets so far. Two of those - both relating to Labour flyers - had been referred to the police.

Various other types of breaches had also been referred, including ex-Green party member Jolyon White for stickers attached to National Party billboards; Progressive candidate Jim Anderton, for an unauthorised letter to constituents; Megan Woods, of Labour, for a Facebook advertisement with no valid promoter statement; and Michael Woodhouse, a National MP, for newspaper advertisements also having no valid promoter statement.

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