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Should One News be subject to the election rules?

In brief
  • One News polls Kiwis  about support for the Green party’s proposed free dental care funded by a wealth tax. 
  • Is One News electioneering? It seems strange for a “news” outlet to take such initiative on a  minor party policy, especially one that Labour has ruled out.
  • One News was recently also caught up in the cash for coverage scandal and a co-governance related defamation action. 
  • Do Electoral Commission rules need tightening to cover media, especially government funded media?

One News Poll question a boost for the Green Party

One News has just sponsored a Varian poll saying a majority of respondents (63%) support a wealth tax in exchange for universal dental care as proposed by the Green Party.  Yes is not a surprising answer to a question that gives something to most and takes from a small number. But does that mean it is a considered response, weighing all the pros and cons of a real decision, or is it more of a gut instinct the respondent knows has no consequence?

Should One News be subject to the election rules? - Centrist
Should One News be subject to the election rules?

Why would One News choose such a question? As opposed to, for instance, would you support closing down publicly funded media in exchange for universal dental care? 

While this is obviously a joke, it does make the point. You don’t normally take the initiative to get questions answered that are unfavourable to your beliefs. 

Some may call it a stroke of good luck for the Greens that One News has decided to champion an otherwise obscure campaign promise. Others, however, may call it electioneering.

The poll came out weeks after the Greens made their announcement. The subsequent coverage has all but flat lined and it’s debatable how much mileage the Greens got from their moonshot policy announcement. 

Furthermore, how many Kiwis really understand the difference between a wealth tax and a capital gains tax?

As would be expected, the results gave the Greens coverage and allowed them to go on the campaign offensive with party co-leader Marama Davidson calling for Labour to “step up”. 

Should  One News be allowed to promote a wealth tax and/or universal dental care? 

One News  took it upon themselves to seek clarification on Labour’s wealth tax position from not just Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, but several other MPs as well

One News ran a previous article in early August  supporting the policy with the headline: Greens’ free dental care policy doesn’t go far enough – expert. 

There are election rules requiring anyone paying more than $15,700 for election advertising, in the 3 months leading up to an election, to register. However, there are exemptions for the media. Should these rules be tightened up to deal with today’s reality where media, including public media, is often partisan and pitching for their side instead of reporting? 

Seemingly unconnected but maybe not

Julian Batchelor of Stop Co-Governance has revealed  he’s bringing forward a lawsuit for defamation against One News for an article it ran about him.  One News sought comment from The Disinformation Project. They said Batchelor’s actions were racist and incited violence against Māori amidst other inflammatory statements. 

David Farrer of Curia Polling notes that One News, according to recent studies done on NZ’s journalists, is considered left leaning – third only to Stuff and The Spinoff, respectively. 

Needless to say the pro co-governance side is strongly left leaning.

Cash for coverage scandal

It’s been widely reported that One News has been called out for swapping cash for coverage on the issue of climate change. Essentially advertisements by the Government posing as independent articles. The coverage consisted of articles and social media posts in what’s been called “pure political propaganda”.

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