29 Sep 2020

Advance NZ party takes exclusion from debate to court

4:09 pm on 29 September 2020

The Advance NZ party is taking legal action against MediaWorks after it was not invited to take part in the network's minor party leaders debate.

Jami-Lee Ross.

Advance NZ co-leader Jami-Lee Ross Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Advance NZ co-leaders Jami-Lee Ross and Billy Te Kahika filed an urgent interlocutory injunction application in the High Court in Auckland against MediaWorks this afternoon after being advised by Newshub Nation they would not be invited to the 3 October PowerBrokers Debate.

In a statement, Ross said MediaWorks' decision would cause the party serious harm if left unchallenged.

"Advance NZ believes in the importance of New Zealanders hearing a range of opinions from political parties ahead of casting their ballot, and that parties should have fair access to major public platforms," he said.

Ross said the debate would include minor parties that had representation in Parliament as well as the Māori Party.

"We should also be included, as we have been in the TVNZ Minor Party Leaders' Debate ... seeking judicial intervention is no small step, but as one of the guardians of television coverage of the democratic process, MediaWorks' decision requires urgent review."

The party has hired three lawyers, and an independent expert has provided evidence to assist the court.

In 2005, the court ruled in favour of minor party leaders Peter Dunne and Jim Anderton when they challenged then-TV3 owner CanWest over being excluded from a television debate.

In 2014, Conservative Party leader Colin Craig also successfully challenged MediaWorks after not being invited to a Saturday morning minor parties television debate.

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