The co-leaders of Advance NZ, Jami-Lee Ross and Billy Te Kahika, today filed an urgent interlocutory injunction application in the Auckland High Court against MediaWorks after the network’s decision to exclude the party from a minor parties leaders debate.
Ross, the incumbent Botany MP who will not be contesting the seat in next month’s General Election, said in a press release MediaWorks’ decision will cause the party “serious harm if left unchallenged”.
“We have taken this urgent action after being advised by Newshub Nation that we were excluded from the programme’s PowerBrokers Debate to be aired on 3 October,” Ross said in the media statement.
“The debate will include minor parties that have representation in Parliament, as well as the Maori Party which is not currently represented.”
Advance NZ’s position is that it should also be included, as it had 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,” Ross said.
“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.
“This is not the first time that a political party has challenged a decision by a television network as to who is permitted to participate in a multi-party election debate.”
Excluding relevant voices from public debates, said Ross, undermined the political process.
“Advance NZ candidates have been excluded from a range of electoral political debates around the country and it is time to stand up for the people and perspectives we represent,” he said.
Ross said Advance NZ had instructed Honor Lanham and Jordan Grimmer of Shortland Chambers as counsel. They are assisted by Graeme Edgeler of Blackstone Chambers. Professor Claire Robinson has provided independent expert evidence to assist the Court, he said.