From latest Robson-on-politics;
NZ media coverage of ACT Party
Because I have been overseas for the last month I have had to rely on the website versions of the newspapers and other outlets instead of turning on the TV or picking up the paper for NZ news.
And, you know, one thing that really struck me is how much media coverage the ACT Party gets.
"Act has every reason to be optimistic about the election next year," the NZ Herald website told me in a story on 8 July.
On 9 July, the NZ Herald had an article on members' views on the ACT Party's new co-operation agreement with the Labour Party.
On 10 July, the NZ Herald even had an Editorial dedicated to the ACT Party. It basically served to warn Mr. Hide that should he work with the government to advance Australasian regulations over so-called therapeutic products - then, well, then, "many National supporters must question whether Act is worth saving."
(I was surprised by that because for literally decades the NZ Herald has run literally thousands of stories on business leaders demanding Australasian-wide standards and regulations - because that reduces businesses' costs of doing business in both markets.)
"National's leaders, seeing Act willing to provide the final drops of oil to lubricate Labour policies, may feel far less inclined to entertain its policies when they hold power. If so, Act will cease to matter as a political influence," the editorial continued.
An interesting perspective. When did ACT matter as a political influence? I thought ACT had been in Opposition since the day it entered Parliament in 1996. It held neither influence in the National-led government of 1996, not the Labour-led governments since 1999.
On 20 July, the NZ Herald told us that Act won a "significant victory in Parliament" by somehow forcing a victims' rights amendment to be incorporated into the Criminal Justice Reform Bill.
I cannot understand this last story - it doesn't tell us how the vote went. But if it is true that the Criminal Justice Reform Bill is only being advanced with ACT support, then it is meaningful. But if what actually happened is that NZ First changed its position, then the story is just ACT propaganda i.e. ACT's "spin" on what actually happened and completely confusing to readers wanting to understand what is actually happening in their Parliament.
So how much support does ACT have again?
There is only one other big newspaper owner in the country, the Australian-owned group that produces papers like the Dominion in Wellington, the Press in Christchurch and the nationwide Independent business newspaper.
When I am in Auckland, I don't see these papers. But when overseas looking for news on New Zealand, I see them via the Web. The ACT Party gets equally strong coverage in those papers as well.
So how much support does ACT have? In the 2005 Election, ACT got 34,469 votes compared with the Progressive Party's 26,441 i.e. 1.5% of votes cast versus 1.2%.
In the latest Roy Morgan Poll (published on 11 July, 2007) ACT registered 1% support versus the Progressive Party's 1%. In the TVNZ July 5 poll, ACT registered 0.3% compared with 0.4% for Progressive. (In the electorate vote, Progressive was 0.8% versus ACT at 0.2%).
So given that there was just 0.3 of a percentage point in difference between ACT and Progressive's 2005 election result, and nothing in the polls between the two parties now, and that Progressive is represented in Cabinet and in key portfolios, and therefore actually contributes to government decisions, of course you would expect at least equal coverage in the media for Progressive, right? Yeah Right!
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