The Herald backs Clark and Key in agreeing to debates between the two of them only:
They need make no apology for that. Theirs are the only parties capable of forming a government. Far from undermining MMP, their joint decision is perfectly in line with the way MMP has developed in this country. After 12 years, the voting system has not produced a three- or four-party contest as it did in Germany, the only close model.
There, the two smaller parties each attract around 10 per cent of the vote and can claim significant places on the stage at each election. The most successful of our smaller parties have half that support and it becomes harder to argue that they should be included in televised debates while others should not. …
National and Labour have a legitimate shared interest in minimising third-party influence. They are under no obligation to let minnows enjoy their limelight. They obviously see their prospects best served by a simple two-sided debate. The rest will no doubt get a separate televised forum for their contest.
And there is a debate on TV One on 27 October between the six minor parliamentary parties.
A joint letter from news chiefs at TV3 and TVNZ last Monday pleaded with both Helen Clark and John Key not to turn their backs on multi-party debates, insisting they were of “fundamental importance in an MMP environment”.
I have said I think there should be one debate with all eight leaders. I would have four debates – two head to heads, one with all eight and one with only the minors.
But I do think people over-state MMP as the reason for including the minors. Social Credit has twice as many MPs as Jim Anderton, yet Bruce Beetham never got invited to the debates.
Alliance Party Canterbury Convenor Quentin Findlay says the the local Council of Trade Unions leadership has locked the Alliance out of the debate.
He says Alliance members would be picketing the venue and would accept a last minute invitation to speak.
“All we are asking is for a chance to speak. No special treatment, we just to want to talk to the workers.”
Mr Findlay says the Alliance is a strongly pro-worker party that strongly supports the Union movement, and had not taken the decision to go public lightly.