TOP lose legal bid to debate

The Opportunities Party went to court to try to get included in tonight’s minor party leaders debate and lost. This isn’t surprising, it’s hard for a court to force a media organisation, but it’s very disappointing to see our state owned television broadcaster using ‘rules’ to be undemocratic.

The MMP system – in particular to ridiculously high 5% threshold – is stacked against new parties making it into Parliament.

TVNZ’s ‘rule of not allowing parties who haven’t got at least 3% in their last two polls to take part in the biggest debate of the campaign for minor parties is a disgrace to democratic principles.

RNZ: TOP loses legal bid to appear in multi-party debate

The Opportunities Party (TOP) has lost its legal fight to appear on TVNZ’s multi-party debate tomorrow evening.

TVNZ lawyer Stacey Shortall said it had robust criteria for parties to be involved, including either already being in parliament or polling at at least three percent in one of the two Colmar Brunton polls before the debate.

It is not ‘robust criteria’. State owned broadcasters in particular should have a responsibility to be fair to serious contenders, but TVNZ is denying TOP a prime  chance of being seen and heard.

TOP polled at 1 percent in its poll at the end of August and at 1.9 percent today.

TOP’s lawyer Francis Cooke QC argued the party’s inclusion in the debates was critical to the election process and TVNZ’s criteria should be more robust.

But the political-media system remains stacked against them.

Key points from Edwards’ affidavit:

24 Fourth, in my view the use of such criteria is self-perpetuating and antidemocratic. A party that is excluded from the debates has little chance of making headway in the polls. What is more, I think that excluding them from the debates sends the message to viewers that their views and policies are not worthy of consideration. I think this is dangerously undemocratic.

25 Fifth, this year’s election campaign is proving extremely volatile. Political scientists and commentators appear to be in consensus that we are witnessing the greatest polling volatility yet recorded in an election campaign in New Zealand. Therefore, it seems unreasonable to take two Colmar Brunton polls as a snapshot of likely outcomes in the election – the flux is just too great at the moment in politics to regard such polling to be definitive.

27 Finally, the minor parties seem set to play a pivotal role in this year’s election as they are likely to hold the balance of power after the election. In my view, this makes it particularly important that the public is given sufficient exposure to their leaders and policies.

30 In my view TVNZ’s exclusion of TOP would do a disservice to democracy.

31 If TVNZ proceeds with minor party leaders’ and young voters’ debates without The Opportunities Party (TOP), this will have a significantly negative impact on TOP’s chances to be taken seriously by those members of the public looking to vote for a party other than Labour and National. It will send a strong signal to voters that it is not a viable candidate for voting consideration. It may seriously affect TOP’s electoral chances. And given the inclusion of less popular parties, it would be arbitrary and irrational.

The full affidavit: http://liberation.typepad.com/files/affidavitdraft.pdf

The judge probably had no legal basis to rule in favour of TOP, but TVNZ are doing a disservice to taxpayers and to democracy.

Large and incumbent parties (and their supporters) and large media do what the can to deny newcomers a fair chance. Incumbent also have other substantial financial advantages.

Previous Post

10 Comments

  1. Pickled Possum

     /  September 8, 2017

    A few candidates over the years have taken this to court and won.
    I think having garth morgan on the same stage as the ‘others’ shows up the lies deceit and repetative ragoo-stew they are all programmed to spout.
    Garth Morgan has a strong following because he covers all the ‘troubles’ nz has …
    equally and fairly.
    Sounds like his uni dayz were spend with his head up a economic book.
    I wonder if Stevan was there at the same time.

  2. Gezza

     /  September 8, 2017

    TVNZ Not broadcasting last night’s debate was also an affront to democratic principles. All we get from this mob is endless supply of mind-numbing crap & hooplah & gighles as news. Who are the idiots running this shambles? Why aren’t they in prison?😡

    • Gezza

       /  September 8, 2017

      🙄 * and gighles should say giggles! I better eat something I think.

  3. Its not an informing debate if parties are missing. I will miss it.

  4. TOP are crying foul; what about all the other ‘minor parties’ inc. Democrats (Soc. Credit) & ALCP which have stood in all elections under MMP, but get little or no media attention (other than their own ads) ?? 😦

    IF they are going to have such debates, they should invite ALL registered parties, so the public are more aware of their policies & get a fair view of them !

    I heard that TVNZ are looking increasingly like they are promoting FPP rather than MMP ?
    I tend to agree !!

    • Gezza

       /  September 8, 2017

      Yeah it is actually bloody slack, Zedd. If they can legally get away with this, their Charter needs an overhaul.

      • Zedd

         /  September 8, 2017

        tally ho.. old chap ! 😀

        • Gezza

           /  September 9, 2017

          Jolly good. 👍🏼
          Bangers & mash.
          And right up their Khyber!
          Toodle pip. 🎩
          Sir Gerald.