Have Crikey noticed how poor the
mainstream media coverage of the NZ election has been? Maybe we just aren’t
very interested in what happens over there. I’m no pundit but I noted a number
of fairly glaring errors and oversights on the
weekend:

  • The Saturday Age
    editorial claimed that Helen Clark was NZ’s first female PM. She wasn’t. She
    took over from Jenny Shipley who ran the last National Party led NZ government.

  • Both The Age and The
    Australian
    consistently refer to PM Helen as ‘Miss Clark’. I know that Kiwis,
    and no doubt others, joke about her lack of overt femininity but I know that she
    is actually a married woman (since 1981 to a Professor Davis – according to Sky
    News on Saturday). Maybe the papers are part of a conservative whispering
    campaign!

  • Negotiating a minority
    government after an election has failed to produce a clear majority is not an
    unusual event in NZ. In fact it has been the norm since the introduction of the
    MMP electoral system, the exception being the last election when the National
    Party vote crashed.

  • The NZ MMP system,
    which is based on the German model, effectively combines the equivalent of
    Australia’s Reps and Senate into one house (the NZ parliament is unicameral) by
    giving voters two votes – one for an electorate candidate and one for the party
    of choice (listed candidates who are elected according to the percentage of
    votes cast nationally). I know that Helen Clark has previously led 2 or 3
    minority governments and I seem to recall that the last couple of National led
    governments were also minority based (which are not necessarily
    coalitions).

  • Speaking of the German
    election – how come no-one connected the similarly inconclusive outcomes with
    the commonality of the systems?

Looks like a contagious case of lazy
reporting to me…

Peter Fray

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