Conservatives claim victory over broading court case

Colin Craig
Colin Craig
The Conservative Party is claiming another legal victory, following a decision by the Electoral Commission to reshuffle the broadcasting funding and air time - even though the party is getting less than it had asked for.

The re-allocation, announced today, is because the Alliance Party failed to submit a party list, while the Expat and Truth Freedom Justice parties did not register in time.

Their funding and air time for closing addresses has now been given to all other parties except for Act, which missed out on the basis that its sole MP John Banks had resigned after being convicted for knowingly filing a false electoral return.

The Conservative Party has now dropped its legal action against the commission. Today's decision means it will receive an extra 10 seconds and $667, proportionately more air time but fewer dollars than other minor parties including the Maori Party, Internet-Mana and United Future.

The National Party has been given an extra 45 seconds for its closing address, as well as an additional $11,673. Labour has gained 40 seconds and $10,191.

In taking court action, Conservative leader Colin Craig argued the party was entitled to more money than the Act Party. He also challenged the commission's authority to determine the order of opening and closing addresses.

He hailed today's decision as a victory, even though the re-allocation fell short of the extra air time and money he had asked for - 15 seconds and $2500.

Act still has more funding and air time than the Conservatives. The commission also declined to change the order for the closing address.

Nonetheless Mr Craig said he was "pretty happy".

"We weren't in any doubt that we were on strong ground, but it's always nice to have that confirmed by changes the Electoral Commission has made, and their acknowledgement of the issues that we put forward,"

"They've come up with a new variation which acknowledges all our points. There's no doubt from our perspective that this is a win, and other parties got extra as well, and we always expected that would be the case."

He said he had sunk "several thousands" into his court case.

"That's not an unreasonable amount, and the Electoral Commission have agreed to a variation, which means we haven't had to go to an expensive court hearing."

Mr Craig has previously won a legal battle to be included in the televised minor leaders' debate. He also has a defamation case against Green co-leader Russel Norman, which is unlikely to be heard until after the election.

- by Derek Cheng of the NZ Herald