Colin Craig has failed to shine in a televised political
debate which he legally won the right to participate in.
The Conservatives leader last night won an eleventh-hour High
Court scrap over his exclusion from TV3's politics show The
Nation's minor leaders debate.
The show's producers were forced to include him this morning,
with presenter Lisa Owen describing him as "our uninvited
Mr Craig joined the Green Party's Metiria Turei, New Zealand
First's Winston Peters, United Future's Peter Dunne, the
Maori Party's Te Ururoa Flavell, Act's Jamie Whyte, and Mana
Party's Hone Harawira on screen.
And he appeared to have found his voice again, after he
reportedly lost it following yesterday's court action, with a
Conservatives spokeswoman telling Newstalk ZB he was unable
to comment last night because he had lost his voice.
However, he "looked like he was missing a spark plug", 3News
political reporter Brook Sabin said in the analysis
"After yesterday with the court action, he really needed to
have a strong performance today to justify his presence, I
don't think he did."
Mr Craig had "got some biff in against Peters", but "failed
to differentiate himself" from him, Otago University
political scientist Bryce Edwards said.
"He could give no reasons why someone from that voter group
might vote Conservatives rather than New Zealand First."
The debate started off smoothly, which each leader given a
turn to express their views on each subject, but gradually
turned more heated with leaders talking over each other.
Mr Craig struggled to get his voice heard over the other
leaders, with Mr Sabin saying afterwards that "his political
dream is falling to bits".
During the debate the Conservatives leader laughed off the
notion he was Mr Peter's "doppelganger" and that people
wouldn't vote for his party.
"I think New Zealanders are ready for a change, I also think
we've been very clear, not talking in double-speak, we would
support the highest polling party if they have a mandate to
lead, and I think we'd find more common ground than perhaps
my opponent over the room would [Peters]," he replied.
"We are gaining support. I had double the turn-out to my
meeting in Tauranga [than Mr Peters], which I understand is
his home hunting ground."
The leaders discussed hot election issues, including foreign
ownership, immigration, housing, crime, and unemployment,
with Ms Turei, Mr Harawira and Mr Peters appearing to chime
on many topics.
While Mr Peters remained firm on not commenting on which
parties he would partner with until after the votes were in,
he said "there's a place for sound environmentalism because
it's good economics" when asked if he would work with the
Ms Turei said her party had "worked really well" with Mr
Peters on issues in the past. She also denied she was worried
about Labour's performance in the polls.
"Their fortunes are their own business, our fortunes are
mine," she said.
Mr Hawawira said he was "guaranteed to get a call on the
night of September 20" if the polls keep tracking the way
they are for the Internet-Mana Party.
At the start of the show Ms Owen told viewers they were
tuning into "the debate that almost wasn't", following Mr
Craig's legal action prohibiting TV3 from airing the show
"So after a frankly heroic effort by our crew last night,
he's with us," she said.
Mr Craig filed urgent legal proceedings with the High Court
in Auckland yesterday, with Justice Murray Gilbert siding
with the Conservative Party leader saying any inconvenience
to MediaWorks was outweighed by the public interest in having
Mr Craig at the debate.
- By Patrice Dougan of APNZ