When political debates go crazy

A raging verbal fight broke out at an mayoral candidate meeting, promoted as The Anti-Debate, at the University of Auckland on Monday night.

AUSA and the Daily Blog present The Anti-Debate

Tonight we’re proud to put on the debate that no one else will – the Anti-Debate. Come to Shadows at 7 to watch some of the 14 OTHER mayoral candidates give you their vision for Auckland.

CAN’T MAKE THE DEBATE? No problem! We will be LIVE STREAMING the event from the Daily Blog – also at 7! A copy will be available afterwards too, but if you’re stuck at home tonight make sure you go to thedailyblog.co.nz so you don’t miss out!

It lived up to it’s ‘anti-debate’ billing in an unexpected way.

Stuff: Auckland mayoral debate turns into shoving match between screaming candidates

Auckland mayoral candidates came close to “a brawl” at a debate on Tuesday night, after a screaming war of words descended into a shoving match.

David Hay was abused by rival Alezix Heneti as he tried to make a speech at the debate, which was hosted by Auckland University Students’ Association at university bar, Shadows.

Hay arrived late from another meeting, but was given permission by a students’ association representative to make a 30-second statement.

However, Heneti took umbrage, and a fracas ensued.

The debate was MC’d by Martyn Bradbury and all he seemed concerned about was that it was being live streamed.

Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party candidate Adam Holland – dressed in a kaftan – then commandeered the mic to yell “vote for me! Vote for me!”.

Not good for the ALCP credibility nor good for the pro-cannabis lobby.

As 22-year-old mayoral candidate Chloe Swarbrick stepped in between Hay and Heneti, Holland continued his commentary: “There’s going to be brawl! Ooh, I can feel a brawl!”

Swarbrick tried to placate the mayhem and was the only one to come out of this with any credit.

The AUSA president was understandably disappointed.

AUSA regrets the incident that occurred at the end of the Anti-Debate. This unnecessary conflict between two candidates marred an otherwise enjoyable and informative debate in which a wide range of mayoral contenders were given a platform to have their views heard. AUSA encourages peaceful and democratic resolution of all issues, and appeals to mayoral candidates to maintain a standard of behaviour expected of the Mayoralty.

Unfortunately, one of the candidates present chose to waste the opportunity given to him and attend the debate in a highly offensive costume. AUSA is fundamentally opposed to racism and bigotry in all its forms. We are sure that Aucklanders will see this and be able to exercise their best judgement in choosing which mayoral candidate will earn their votes.

The day before Hay had conceded his campaign and said he supported Phil Goff for mayor:

MEDIA RELEASE 25 September 2016

Speaking at a mayoral panel debate for the African Community, in Mount Roskill on Saturday afternoon, mayoral candidate David Hay threw his support behind Phil Goff to be the Mayor of Auckland.

Another view:

I’m reluctant to suggest that non-serious candidates be excluded from standing for elections, but this makes a mockery of the democratic process. Electing the mayor of a major city is a big deal.

Hay  said the debate turned out to be the most exciting one so far on the campaign.

“Great political theatre!” he said.

No, it trashes what should be a serious process. Democracy is turning off too many voters as it is.

Managing the number of candidates – there are 18 standing for mayor in Auckland – is a problem. The AUSA tried to give the ‘lesser’ candidates a forum and some of them blew it.

I wonder if some sort of democratic pre-selection process would help.

Northland: other candidates’ Q & A

From NZ Herald Northland by-election: Q+A with leading candidates the responses from the other eight candidates:

That’s right, like most media the Herald chooses in advance of the election who should be considered by voters and promotes them, and ignores the test. Typical undemocratic media pre-selection.

Last week the Herald did briefly mention the candidates it chose to exclude from this week’s Q & A, where the actually acknowledged Eleven candidates to contest Northland by-election.

Nominations closed today and the Electoral Commission’s list of candidates includes National’s Mark Osborne, Labour’s Willow Jean Prime, Act’s Robin Grieve, and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.

They will go up against the Mana Party’s Rueben Taipari Porter and Maki Herbert for the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party.

Farmer Joe Carr

…will contest it for the Focus NZ Party — a party set up by farmers and business people in Northland before the 2014 election to campaign on “old fashioned values”.

Many of its founding members have links to National, including Northland businessman Ken Rintoul, who was on the shortlist for the National Party selection won by Mike Sabin in 2011. Former National MP Ross Meurant helped set up the Focus Party but said he had withdrawn his support about a year before the election.

Mangawhai Ratepayer’s and Residents Association chairman Bruce Rogan

…is also standing as an independent.

Mr Rogan was one of the ringleaders in the 2013 ‘rates strike’ by Mangawhai residents objecting to hefty rates increases for a cost blow out in a waste water scheme.

In 2012, he apologised to Government Minister Nick Smith for an abusive email Mr Rogan had sent about the issue which Dr Smith had referred to police.

Serial independent candidate Adam Holland

…has also entered the contest.

Mr Holland stood in Epsom in 2014 on a tongue in cheek platform of introducing a 5 per cent flat tax for residents of Epsom only, and agreeing to do anything Prime Minister John Key said. He got 21 votes.

Mr Holland also stood in the Ikaroa-Rawhiti and Christchurch East by-elections in 2013. He gave his tribal affiliation as Utemi (Ireland).

Not mentioned except in a list of all candidates at the bottom:

Adrian Bonner (Independent)

Rob Painting (Climate Party)

New Zealand voters are usually very conservative about how they vote and this at least helped by and could be accentuated by media bias towards candidates and parties they choose to promote and against those candidates they choose to exclude from public scrutiny.

In Northland coverage Winston Peters has probably been given more free publicity from media than the rest of the candidates combined.

A typical response when media are questioned about their campaign pre-selections and bias is they provide coverage that their viewers/listeners/readers are interested in.

If alternative candidates aren’t given coverage viewers/listeners/readers won’t be able to choose for themselves whether they are interested in them.

Like others NZ Herald promotes headlines and demotes democracy.

UPDATE: and to further emphasise how this is done the Herald follows up to three chosen candidate Q&As with more coverage of Peters – Northland byelection: Peters evasive over long-term plan

They don’t try and find out even the short term plans of most candidates. My guess is that they will be beating their heads against a brick wall of media bias.

NZ Herald Northland headlines:

NZH-NorthlandHeadlines

Looks like the Peters paper.