The decision to prohibit the minor party leaders from the so-called "Leaders Debate" is understandable, albeit disappointing.
After all, people in New Zealand are pre-programmed into voting for National or Labour. It's intergenerational. When it comes to anything in politics all that matters in NZ is what National or Labour think.
People say to me all the time, and I mean all the time "how come ACT is still only 2%. I like most of their policies [you can't please all the people all the time], and Rodney and Heather are doing great jobs."?
I tell them the answer is Coke and Telecom.
Coke and Telecom?
You see, politics is a battle of ideas. The ideas are portrayed through the media to the public. The major parties win the control over the media because, well, er, they are the major parties. Who cares what Rodney Hide says! What does John Key think?!?!
National and Labour are established brands like Coke and Telecom. They have a duopoly. National passed a law in 1996(?) prohibiting parties like ACT buying their own TV time. Labour passed the Electoral Finance Act which prohibits a candidate spending more than $20,000 in an entire year trying to win an electoral seat. Meanwhile the "damn good ideas" that Mike Williams propogates disabuse small parties of that notion.
ACT gets 4 minutes to give an opening address for this year's election. National and Labour get 15. ACT gets $100,000 broadcasting allocation for TV ads. National and Labour get $700,000.00 each (I think). And if all this isn't bad enough, ACT had to fight its 'friend' National in 2005 which thought, and still think I am sure, that ACT is a flea that needs squashing. And of course National has the Waitemata Trust to help it do that.
So you see, it's like the chicken and egg thing. Which comes first, votes or profile/brand? Without profile/brand you don't get votes, without votes you don't get profile/brand.
Dogs, fleas, chickens and eggs.
That's minor party politics for you in New Zealand.
It's bloody hard work.