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Rotorua Mayoral Candidate Steve Chadwick Lashes Media

Rotorua Mayoral Candidate Steve Chadwick Gives Pay-For-Say Media a Lashing

Rotorua mayoral candidate Steve Chadwick has lashed out at Rotorua newspaper attempts to wring money out of candidates in this year’s local body elections.

Concerns raised by her and other candidates has seen The Mud intervene to offer all candidates a free video and transcript package with interviews

Former Labour Government Minister Steve Chadwick raised a kete of funding to back her bid with a high profile launch, but she says not all candidates had such backing and faced spending a figure of around $10,000 to raise their profiles with electors.

This includes the sums being charged for “election candidate packages” at the same time as the local newspaper, the Rotorua Daily Post, has banned candidates from writing letters to the editor. The Daily Post's general manager Matthew Sherry said there would be no comment when approached by The Mud for this article.

Steve Chadwick described the media’s approach as “very bad” during a video interview with The Mud, a Rotorua online news web site.

“Letters to the editor, community stories and community press releases is the job of the media and I’m not sure why we are being managed as to when we can say things and what we can say.

“It’s bad; it’s bad for politics; then it’s bad for democracy; and then we ask ourselves ‘why do only 42 per cent of people in our community get excited about voting for the district councillors that are going to represent them?’ I think that needs looking at.”

Steve Chadwick said discussions in the media were a necessary part of the process. She had started nine months ago, having community group and “cottage” meetings.

“Now new candidates, they’ve got excited, they want to stand, they want to change things, and they want to take part. If they don’t have about $10,000, they won’t be able to afford to get the publicity and the spread in any depth in what they are standing for.”

The Mud asked her if some people might say if candidates could not afford $10,000, then they shouldn’t be standing for election.

“Well that’s not true, because I know some marvellous candidates from a community background who all believe in what I’m saying about change and energy and a vision.

“They want to be part of that vision. I see them as a good mix around the table. I think a mix of views gives you very healthy, middle of the road, balanced decisions by district council. So you need them at council and they need to be able to be there and this funding is a barrier.”

With a total of five mayoral candidates, 31 council candidates and six Rotorua Lakes Community Board candidates, the newspaper potentially has a windfall of more than $100,000. However, The Mud understands that some candidates, including existing councillors, who are contesting this year’s elections, have baulked at the cost. 

Sources has said the candidates’ package was initially priced at $3,400 apiece; however, after refusals mounted this was lowered to $2,800. When the candidates remained less than enthusiastic, the price is believed to have been again lowered, this time to $1,600 Again, note no comment was available from the Daily Post.

The Mud’s free interview sessions are being held at the offices of Dowthwaite Law. Once transformed into videos and transcripts, the packages will be hosted on The Mud web site at www.themud.co.nz.


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