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Anderton Letter To TV3 Friday July 29 2005

11 August 2005


Anderton Letter To TV3 Friday July 29 2005

Mark Jennings
Head of News & Current Affairs

Dear Mr Jennings,

Following on from the conversation with the Assistant Head of News this morning with my office regarding TV3's decision on Monday about which political leaders to invite to pre-election debates, I thought I would outline to you some of the issues I believe you should take into very serious consideration when making your decision.

Voters and potential voters, I believe, have the right to hear from the Parliamentary party leaders that have, or are likely in the future to have, an influence in shaping the policies that affect them and their families.

For this reason, I believe it would represent a serious case of interference in the domestic political affairs of New Zealand's parliamentary democracy for any of the eight current Parliamentary parties to not be represented in these pre-election leaders' debates.

As leader of one of those parties, I think it would be no less than an open assault on our democracy to not include Progressive.

In our MMP electoral system, governments are created by coalitions of parties.

Progressive is a party inside of the current Labour-Progressive government.

I am the third ranked Cabinet Minister and I have led the junior partner inside of the minority coalition government first elected in 1999.

In other words, the Progressive Party has by far the strongest track record of all Third Parties for getting its policies adopted by succeeding on getting into the Cabinet Room and being represented on each and every Cabinet Committee where coalition government decisions are made every week.

Of the six small Parliamentary parties represented in the current Parliament, NZ First lasted inside of a coalition government for less than two years. The Maori, Green and ACT parties have never succeeded in getting into government while United Future leader, Hon. Peter Dunne, was in the brief National-United coalition established shortly before the first MMP election in 1996.

From Four Weeks Paid Annual Leave for workers to Kiwibank, from regional and industry development policies that have helped create tens of thousands of jobs around New Zealand to the scheme to encourage large-scale film production in New Zealand, there simply is no other Third Party that has had anywhere near as much success delivering on its Manifesto promises as the party I lead.

I am of course writing to express my disbelief and utter disappointment that TV3 would even think of banning the Progressive Party from turning up to these debates.

But it is actually far more serious than that.

For the MMP electoral system to survive in New Zealand, government policy-making and internal coalition relationships have to be made to deliver for the people of New Zealand.

If there is one thing that my forty years involvement in politics has taught me it is that an overwhelming majority of New Zealanders fear and detest the prospect of unstable governments and divided governments.

That is why Progressive focuses so hard at being a constructive coalition partner in government. We work extraordinarily hard inside the Labour-Progressive coalition government to get positive things done but it is done by persuasion and argument, not by creating cheap news headlines or media stunts to give the impression of political instability.

It would be utterly wrong to punish the Progressive Party for its commitment to stable coalition government between general elections.

The only time we really go out and promote our own distinctive policy programme is in the four to six weeks prior to each General Election.

I am looking forward to three opportunities on the 100% New Zealand-owned Television New Zealand Ltd., for example, to outline some of these issues in the run-up to the general election on behalf of the junior partner in the coalition government.

Please take care to give this appeal your most serious consideration as I believe important issues of democracy are at stake.

If there are any issues I have raised which you would like to discuss with me my number is [omitted for internet publication]

Yours etc.

Hon Jim Anderton
Progressive leader


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