I don’t think I can recall an election in NZ conducted under such a cloud of extraordinary and dubious circumstances as this one.
We have police raids on media outlets to suppress information relevant to the election.
We have the teapot tape itself. Described as significant and “game changing” by some that have heard it, of disputed legality (but certainly not ruled illegal), and clearly a matter of great public interest. Any other media in any other democracy would have played it to the public. But not in NZ.
We have the unreleased advice on asset sales. This is the major issue of the campaign, and it is only because of the Official Information Act (and the efforts of TV1) that we have learned that (1) Key’s public statements on aspects of the asset sales rest on no official advice and are more or less completely made up by the Nats, and (2) there are comprehensive official documents that do contain relevant advice, but we the public are not allowed to know before we vote.
We have had further made up nonsense from Key, such as the claim that raising the minimum wage would cost jobs, when in fact the official advice from Treasury was that they would not. How is the public meant to make sense of a barrage of inconsistent information mixed with outright lies?
And finally we have an Electoral Commission that really seems to be losing the plot a bit. Apparently (this just in from comments) even discussing the weather on election day could get you in to trouble if there is any link (implied link?) to voter behaviour. An election under a cloud indeed.