Colin Craig confident in Electoral Commission court contest

Colin Craig (Tinaz Karbhari)

The Conservative Party's Colin Craig is off to court again – this time in dispute of election programming.

The litigious leader, fresh off winning an injunction against MediaWorks to be included in a minor party debate, has filed against the Electoral Commission in Auckland's High Court.

Mr Craig says his appeal against an Electoral Commission variation in election broadcasting allocation is likely to be held on Monday.

Each election year time and money are allocated for broadcasting on Radio NZ and TVNZ in the run up to the poll.

Essentially, the Conservative Party disputes its broadcasting funding, the time it has been given for opening and closing addresses, and Electoral Commission's ordering of the parties.

It wants the High Court to judicially review the commission’s decision. 

In June the electoral body allocated the party $60,207 and 90 seconds for both opening and closing submissions.

The commission varied its decision earlier this week as a result of two smaller parties not being registered in time. It increased the Conservative Party’s funding to $61,499, but did not change its total of three minutes screen time.

The commission had decided not to reallocate four extra minutes of broadcast time. 

The Conservative Party’s argument is that recent polls show the party should have higher priority, and more time and funding, than ACT and United Future.

Mr Craig’s affidavit says he is concerned the Electoral Commission is giving voters the impression the party is less likely to be successful in the election than the parties that precede it.

Mr Craig told NBR ONLINE he is confident the court will find the Electoral Commission has not done its job properly.

He is less certain of what the result will mean, however. The party leader says he would be happy to pick up another 30 seconds of the four minutes up for grabs, but concedes it is possible that none of the time will go to him.

Mr Craig points out the decision will benefit other parties if the time is reallocated.

“The Electoral Commission has a legal obligation and they haven’t fulfilled that, and so I have no problem holding government institutions to account,” he says.

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