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Darren Watson 2 John Key 0

Written By: - Date published: 8:03 am, October 21st, 2016 - 140 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, brand key, election 2014, john key, Media, national, Politics, same old national, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:

Remember Darren Watson’s Planet Key song Planet Key that the Electoral Commission deemed was an electoral advertisement and banned it in the lead up to the 2014 election?

I wrote this just over a year ago:

Also last year the Government chose to through proxies attack Darren Watson for his Planet Key song which was as pure an example of gentle yet biting political commentary as you could imagine.  Key described the song as an example of dirty politics.  Surely he was joking.  The Electoral Commission’s continued harassment of Darren needs to be investigated.  It appears National’s indifference to the intellectual property of musicians is comparable to its indifference to their right to freedom of expression.

The High Court ruled that the Electoral Commission was wrong.  The Electoral Commission then decided to appeal.  From the Herald:

The Electoral Commission has lodged an appeal with the Court of Appeal over the High Court’s recent ruling that the satirical Planet Key song and video during last year’s election had not breached electoral laws.

In a statement, the Electoral Commission said it had filed papers with the Court of Appeal because it wanted clarification on the meaning of ‘election advertisement’ and ‘election programme’ after two apparently inconsistent rulings by the High Court.

Chief Electoral Officer Rob Peden said it was not challenging the findings of the court on Watson’s song as they applied to the facts in that case. Its appeal was to clarify the approach the Commission should be taking when it was weighing up whether something was an ‘election advertisement’ or ‘election programme.’

He said the the High Court in two decisions it made relating to the 2014 campaign had appeared to take different approaches to the legal interpretation of election advertisement.

“Clarification is needed to ensure the Commission is able to provide advice and guidance to parties, candidates and third parties on their obligations in respect of electoral matters.”

It is all very well to seek clarification but the effect was to cause Watson to have to go to the trouble of going to the Court of Appeal to defend our freedom of speech.  But the trip was worth while.  Because the Court of Appeal has confirmed the Electoral Commission was wrong and Darren Watson’s song should not have been banned during the election campaign.

The decision is a carefully worded pleasant reading slam dunk for Darren.

It describes the background in these terms:

[2]  Planet Key was a satirical song and video that but for the intervention of the Electoral Commission would have been broadcast in the lead up to the 2014 general election. The Commission is said to have overreached by interfering in the expression of personal political views. Planet Key itself is now of historical interest, but the legal controversy that it engendered is not; the controversy concerns the meaning of the legislation that the Commission administers and it has significant implications for future elections.

The video was motivated by this John Key comment in Parliament:

I do not know so much about “Planet Key”, but my expectations are it would be a lovely place to live, it would be beautifully governed, golf courses would be plentiful, people would have plenty of holidays to enjoy their time, and what a wonderful place it would be.

Darren Watson’s motivation was succinctly explained in this passage from the judgment:

The first respondent, Darren Watson, is a professional songwriter and musician with a bleak view of New Zealand politics, which he thinks tainted by greed, obfuscation and wilful dishonesty. The Prime Minister’s answer inspired him to write the song Planet Key to express those views in the lead up to the 2014 general election.

And the song and video were described in these terms:

[8] The song and video were artistic and satirical, but they also conveyed political messages sharply hostile to the National Party and several of its senior Ministers, particularly the Prime Minister. Notably, the song advised the audience not to vote for Mr Key if they wanted compassion and the video portrayed negative views of Mr Key and several Ministers on contentious issues of the day. The respondents conceded before us, as in the High Court,5 that the song and video were likely to encourage voters not to vote for the National Party or for Mr Key.

[9] Messrs Watson and Jones acted alone, not for any political party or interest group. Mr Watson paid the production expenses — some $721.63 — himself. He intended to publish the song on iTunes for paid download, with royalties to be shared with Mr Jones.

The Court recognised the intent behind the legislation.  It is funny that the low cost effort of a left wing musician was caught.

Parliament intended to limit the influence of money on the electoral process, so preserving equality of voice among participants, and to promote transparency by requiring that parties, candidates and promoters be identified with their election advertisements.

The Court ruled that neither the song or the video are electoral advertisements for the purposes of the Electoral Act or electoral programmes for the purposes of the Broadcasting Act.

John Key is supposedly relaxed about the ruling.  From Radio New Zealand:

Mr Key said he didn’t lose any sleep over the parody song.

He said he was not bothered by the findings as he always knew the song was a parody.

“Election campaigns always bring up these kinds of things. It’s good to have the Court of Appeal ruling, because at least that way people understand what the rules are, but I didn’t lose any sleep over the fact that somebody wrote a song about me that was slightly less than complimentary.”

Its funny really.  Because two years ago Key cited the song as an example of dirty politics.  Is he relaxed about dirty politics?

The problem is that there are too many of these victories two or three years down the line.  Whether it is the refusal to release information that should have been released or the stopping of free speech during an election campaign, winning the battle two years later means that there is a political advantage to the other side.

Anyway the last word belongs to Darren …

140 comments on “Darren Watson 2 John Key 0”

  1. Jenny Kirk 1

    Great !

  2. Invisible Axe 2

    & yet the Key biography brought out just before the election was not electioneering? Only on Planet Key!

    • Tiger Mountain 2.1

      …and that bloody infamous Rugby News cover with our glorious leader, “Keysie” depicted as AB Captain, apparently they got away with that because the publication was deemed to be a “periodical”

  3. RedLogix 3

    Of course Key is relaxed about it. That’s one very well soaked bus ticket delicately laid out across his wrist.

  4. Ad 4

    Shame on the Electoral Commission.
    But awesome precedent.

  5. pat 5

    Well guess Labour have a new election theme song then

  6. weka 6

    Great write up, thanks. Do you know what the second High Court decision that the EC refers to was?

    “Planet Key itself is now of historical interest”

    And yet, Sept/Oct/Nov 2017 “Planet Key, the song that was banned at the last election”…

  7. Does this mean that people independent of political parties are free to issue political artworks during an election campaign, encouraging others to vote for or against particular politicians or parties? If so, I don’t see this as a good outcome at all.

    • weka 7.1

      Probably not ‘issue political artworks’, but existing artists creating political work in the public sphere, sure, why not?

      If the concern is that say a rich individual not previously an artist could produce a song saying that X party are useless don’t vote for them, and had the capacity to then promote that song very widely because of their wealth, then I guess it would get referred to the EC to determine whether it is genuinely an artwork, or a political advertisement.

      • Psycho Milt 7.1.1

        That’s exactly my concern. There are plenty of people with political views who lack talent and creativity but don’t lack money, and money can buy talent and creativity. The political views of people with lots of money tend to be obnoxious, so the idea of being bombarded with that kind of “artwork” every three years doesn’t appeal.

        • weka 7.1.1.1

          Remember the paper bag fiasco of the MMP campaign? NZers don’t take kindly to being told by rich people how to do democracy.

          • Chuck 7.1.1.1.1

            Bang on weka.

            Kim Dotcom and his millions of funding for the Internet/Mana party springs to mind.

            • weka 7.1.1.1.1.1

              Why does that spring to mind? Were they in breach of the two acts? Or are you just opposed to rich people funding political parties? You won’t be voting Act or National again then I presume?

              • Chuck

                “Or are you just opposed to rich people funding political parties?”

                Dotcom did more than just give a donation to a political party. He funded the entire party, put in place his puppets to front the party. Tried his “Moment of Truth” event etc.

                Hence your comment below summarises what Dotcom did perfectly…

                “NZers don’t take kindly to being told by rich people how to do democracy.”

                • weka

                  Ok, so multiple rich people backing a political party is ok, but one very rich one isn’t?

                  “Hence your comment below summarises what Dotcom did perfectly…”

                  Not in the context of this discussion, which is about what is permissible under two pieces of legislation. But hey, I’m good with tightening up the legislation on political donations too.

                  Lolz at the idea that Harawira, Harre, Sykes, Minto etc were KDC’s puppets. Whatever mistakes they made with the IP, being a puppet wasn’t one of them.

                  • Groundhog

                    Seriously, Weka, you walked right in to that and Chuck called you on it. Your responses just sound like ‘it’s ok for rich people to influence an election as long as it’s for my team’. Pathetic.

                    • weka

                      you either can’t read or can’t think. I said,

                      “But hey, I’m good with tightening up the legislation on political donations too.”

                      How you got from my comments here that I think it’s ok to use wealth to influence politics so long as it’s my team is pretty hard to fathom.

                    • Groundhog

                      “NZers don’t take kindly to being told by rich people how to do democracy.”

                      You said it Weka. The left wing generally salivated over Kim Dotcom’s money being used to bring down John Key. You all welcomed his millions as long as it was used for YOUR side, but went go into apoplexy if money used for the ‘other’ side. Your hypocrites, But you’re not alone.

                    • weka

                      Oh fuck off you idiot. The left isn’t an amorphous mob. There was plenty of criticism of KDC and his involvement on TS at the time.

                      fucksake, we need better wing nuts.

                    • Groundhog

                      “The left isn’t an amorphous mob.”
                      I didn’t say they were. But the left were salivating, including some on TS.

                      “There was plenty of criticism of KDC and his involvement on TS at the time.”
                      Yes, there was. And there was plenty of support, driven by a sick kind of derangement.

                      You’re sore because Chuck highlighted your hypocrisy. Take it somewhere else.

                    • weka

                      “The left isn’t an amorphous mob.”
                      I didn’t say they were. But the left were salivating, including some on TS.

                      mate, even you should be able to see how stupid what you just said is.

                      You’re sore because Chuck highlighted your hypocrisy. Take it somewhere else.

                      What hypocrisy? If the rules currently say that rich people can donate to political parties, then I think it’s fair that that happens across the spectrum and I’m in favour of amending the legislation to limit that happening. I know that doesn’t fit your back and white reductionist view of the world, but it’s not that hard to understand.

                    • Groundhog

                      “What hypocrisy?”

                      Do i really need to quote you again?

                      “NZers don’t take kindly to being told by rich people how to do democracy.”

                      Who were you talking about Weka?

                      “If the rules currently say that rich people can donate to political parties, then I think it’s fair that that happens across the spectrum and I’m in favour of amending the legislation to limit that happening.”
                      Why, because Labour are currently hopeless at fundraising?

                    • weka

                      You still haven’t explained what the hypocrisy is. I said that NZers don’t take kindly to being told how to do democracy in reference to the Business Roundtable and co trying to influence the MMP referendum in the 90s. What are you talking about?

                    • Groundhog

                      “What are you talking about?”

                      Your hypocrisy. For pointing out something that happened in 1993 when the most recent example was far more relevant (Kim Dot Com), but didn’t sit you leanings. Chuck called you on it, and rightly so.

                • xanthe

                  “He funded the entire party, put in place his puppets to front the party”

                  there in one statement is the encapsulation of dirty politics .
                  Here is a exposition of BULLSHIT from wikipedia read it carefully and see if you think it applies to the quote above

                  “It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction. A person who lies is thereby responding to the truth, and he is to that extent respectful of it. When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false. For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose.”

                  what you do is worse than a lie! , a liar respects the truth in that they know the truth and decide to speak otherwise. a bullshitter has no interest in the truth at all. You illuminate here why democracy is failing us.

                  • weka

                    Hey xanthe, if you are going to quote from somewhere can you please link?

                    Interesting quote,

                    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullshit#Harry_Frankfurt.27s_concept

                  • Chuck

                    What a strange rant from you xanthe.

                    I said…

                    “He funded the entire party, put in place his puppets to front the party”

                    So you think I am making that up?

                    “Dotcom provided funding (NZ$3.5 million) to the party[10] which was the largest personal contribution to a political party on record in New Zealand.”

                    “In September 2013, Dotcom revealed an interest in setting up a political party.[2] On 15 January 2014, Dotcom announced the name of the party and its logo”

                    “With the lead up to the 2014 election the party ran an idol-styled candidate search and appointed a leader, the former Alliance MP and Minister, Laila Harre”

                    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Party_(New_Zealand)#cite_note-10

                    You may not like it xanthe, but don’t try to pretend it did not occur.

                    • xanthe

                      “put in place his puppets to front the party” is hurtful slanderous bullshit. It does not matter how many times patric gower, cam slater, john key, various labour and green commentators, contributers to thestandard or yourself say it, its still bullshit! You dont know these people acted as “his puppets” and I am convinced you dont care. Do you perhaps think if enough people repeat it enough times some other people will start to assume its true ?

                    • McFlock

                      OK, let’s let the fact that if he funded the entire party, then the Mana party must have had absolutely no funds of its own slide. He did provide the vast majority of its funds.

                      Your assertion was that KDC “put in place his puppets to front the party”. They ain’t puppets and the party structures struck me as being quite democratic.

                      I disliked I/MP, and sure didn’t vote for them, but you took substantial support and assumed that it meant micromanaged and dictated every move. That’s your bullshit. It might be how tories work, but anyone treating Laila Harre like a puppet would be in for a big surprise.

                • Stuart Munro

                  Yeah sure – dotcom is the devil and peter shirtcliffe an angel. To asset stealing ACT trolls.

            • Paul 7.1.1.1.1.2

              What a wretched job you have; to shill for the uber wealthy’s interests.
              I feel sorry for you that you are forced into such a miserable and soul destroying occupation.

            • save nz 7.1.1.1.1.3

              Yes, Chuck the National party and ACT don’t like transparency – they get their political donations and crony deals from Scenic hotels, dodgy offshore tax deals and the new improved (sarc) business roundtable, NZ initiative.

        • Adrian Thornton 7.1.1.2

          Maybe you should have a listen to this…..
          Howard Zinn “Artists in the time of War”

        • Cemetery Jones 7.1.1.3

          Then again, they’re so cluelessly nepotistic that if they did fund some kind of musical pushback, they’d probably turn to their own kids. Picturing some kind of slickly produced but ulitmately cringe inducing duet featuring rude as fuck beats from Max Key on a Kim Dotcom scale of god-awful, accompanied by lyrically inept, horrendous warbling from Annabel Fay. Such an enterprise would serve only to make the target of said musical atrocity seem awesome by comparison. On the other hand, I’d love to see the expressions on the faces of Donghua Liu or that hotelier who looks like Davros with a Phil Spector wig when they realise that this is what National have just spent their money on.

          • Wensleydale 7.1.1.3.1

            “Davros with a Phil Spector wig…”

            Heh, heh, heh. Poor Earl. He can’t help it if he looks like a badly dressed corpse.

        • Richard Rawshark 7.1.1.4

          So your saying this sets a precedent and now all your mates will bombard us with vote Key as your all rich.

          Well i’m poor, I can’t afford billboards but I can afford a night out smashing em up, you put em up i’ll pull em down or use the bill boards with a little artistic can sprays. Few Hitler stashes here, few swastikas here..all good.

          See us common folk we adapt.. and since you have the money for them, maybe we can save costs.

    • roy cartland 7.2

      Of course not. Bit of a straw-manning on your part there I think.

    • I guess Psycho Milt is wondering whether the National Party will exploit this new ruling as the election approaches.
      Of course they will.

    • shorts 7.4

      that is a crass symbol you use as your avatar isn’t it?

      if it is please re-read your comment and remember the many things Crass did to battle Thatcher including the Thatchergate tapes

    • Siobhan 7.5

      Says the guy with the Crass logo. ‘Cause you know, nothing they hated more than politically motivated art work.

      There must have been a list a mile long of people who thought they were lacking in talent creativity and bloody obnoxious to boot.

      Thats the thing about free speech, its for everyone, even rich bastards.

    • bg 7.6

      No no no… you forgot the rules. ‘its OK when the left do it’

  8. Puckish Rogue 8

    Sounding like a be careful what you wish for kind of thing

  9. Poor wee Maui’s dolphin!
    What a monster!

  10. weka 10

    That Planet Key video is very good too. I hope they update it for next year.

  11. save nz 11

    Great outcome.

    However the mistakes of the electoral commission in banning it and therefore illegally censoring negative sentiment to the National party and their subsequent legal harassment of Darren Watson should mean that those who made that decision lose their jobs at the electoral commission.

    Don’t forget nothing happened to the ALL blacks illegally tweeting Vote National on election day.

    The election was not free and fair and the electoral commission is clearly not politically neutral. Apparently only about 10,000 votes were in the election result and with the illegal censorship of anti National freedom of speech, illegal pro Natz tweets, and banning certain sectors of society from voting while pushing as many new voters into NZ, we could have had a change of government last election. Clinging onto power at all costs, and suppression of ideas and truth (aka Campbell Live being shut down) is how the National party operates.

    If most members of the public can see the Darren Watson song is freedom of speech but the electoral commission can not, then they are not fit to be in the job.

    • save nz 11.1

      And don’t forget the previous election Phil Goff was purposely smeared and humiliated by the SIS.

      And the Brethren scandal.

    • Leftie 11.2

      That’s telling it like it is Save NZ. The Electoral Commission cannot be trusted. I know I am not the only one to have lost confidence in our electoral processes. And that’s what’s worrying people I know as well, and I am sure there are others out there too, and the fear is, is that John Key will effectively get away with rigging the election in his favour again.

    • Leftie 11.3

      To add. Lets not forget too that the Electoral Commission changed it’s rules to accommodate Peter Dunne when he had a hissy fit over producing the hard copies of United Future’s membership.

      United Future: Electoral Commission changes rules over physical proof

      “The Electoral Commission has changed its rules meaning United Future will not have to provide original signed application forms to prove it has more than 500 members.”

      <a href="http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10891656

  12. Sam C 12

    Does anyone really give a shit about this? Nope.

    • Invisible Axe 12.1

      Yeah the Electoral Commission has been exposed as National Party poodles, who gives a shit eh?

      • Puckish Rogue 12.1.1

        I’d suggest the Electoral Commission is toothless when it comes to any party, not just National

        [Weak PR and totally off point. Links deleted – MS]

        • Leftie 12.1.1.1

          Never seen the Electoral Commission act like this until John key.

          • Puckish Rogue 12.1.1.1.1

            Really?

            http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10373214

            “The Labour Party has escaped prosecution for breaching electoral law with its pocket-sized pledge cards, despite police finding there was a prima facie case against it.”

            Please note I’m not saying, in this case, that because Labour have done it National should do it, I’m saying the commission is toothless and needs a major overhaul

            • Leftie 12.1.1.1.1.1

              That’s not what I was referring to, but since you brought it up, National did it too Puckish Rogue “He said Labour were given a warning rather than prosecuted because it was clear a number of other parties had also used similar tactics and it would have been unfair to single Labour out.
              He also said the offending was because of a general misunderstanding of electoral rules.”

              So yes really Puckish Rogue, my original comment “never seen the Electoral Commission act like this until John key” still stands. Agreed that it needs an overhaul, it needs to be cleaned out of National party interference for a start.

      • Leftie 12.1.2

        I for one, bloody well give a shit.

    • The rapid response to this post is proving you wrong, Sam C. In my mind’s ear, I hear cheering across New Zealand and laughter as people remember the clip.
      Mockery is the thing the vain and the powerful just can’t abide.

    • save nz 12.3

      You obviously do Sam C, because you bothered to post, to try to minimise the impact.

    • simbit 12.4

      Preservation of free speech brah. I care…

  13. ropata 13

    The same shitbags also complained about the child poverty doco aired on Maori TV before the 2011 election. Apparently we aren’t supposed to air ‘political’ topics before an election FFS
    https://bsa.govt.nz/decisions/4340

  14. Takere 14

    Great! Still Relevant and … isn’t there an election coming?

  15. Tory 15

    It was a shit song, give me The Knobz any day

  16. Has the Chester Borrows case been decided yet, anyone know?
    (on the topic of songs and thinking about sing-sing)

  17. Groundhog 17

    Have we totally lost our sense of humour? This video is actually quite clever, and compared to the satirical brutality we witness overseas, moderate to say the least.

  18. rsbandit 18

    The EC were wrong, but, in the end, big so what?

    Key couldn’t care less about a song, just as I’m sure Little couldn’t care less about a song about Labour by some random ACT supporter. In fact, probably flattered.

    Preaching to the converted.

    • The ‘big so what’ is that they won’t be able to shut down NZ artists and musicians again. That’s a pretty big win for freedom of expression.

      Oh, and Key cared enough at the time alright. One day he was saying he wasn’t bothered by it and the very next he was framing it as part of some vast, covert left-wing version of ‘dirty politics’.

      I would personally LOVE to hear the efforts of a right-wing musician (is there such a thing in NZ?) with the intestinal fortitude to nail his/her political colours to the pole. Fill your boots ye ACT-supporting musicians I say. All none of you.

      • Leftie 18.1.1

        Well said Darren!!

      • rsbandit 18.1.2

        The Knobz appear to be demanding lower state taxes.

        With respect, a left wing attack on Key is the safest thing in the world. The luvvies will all cheer. That’s the real point, isn’t it?

        • Darren Watson 18.1.2.1

          If a “left wing attack on Key is the safest thing in the world” (your words not mine) why have we had to engage a legal team and fight this for over two years all the way to the Court Of Appeal?

          The Knobz’s single was moaning about a 40% sales tax on records in the context of Muldoon saying ‘rock music wasn’t culture’ or some such shit – not about lowering taxes in general.

          And nobody tried to ban the Knobz.

          • rsbandit 18.1.2.1.1

            The EC isn’t left, right or John Key. They are a state entity applying the law, a law in place before National were the government. In my view, they were wrong in their interpretation and it is good the Court Of Appeal agrees.

            I don’t think Key cares about a song. He might have cared about the OTT attack job on him as a whole from the usual suspects, although he need not have worried as they were all preaching to the converted.

            National’s popularity increased.

          • Chuck 18.1.2.1.2

            “If a “left wing attack on Key is the safest thing in the world” (your words not mine) why have we had to engage a legal team and fight this for over two years all the way to the Court Of Appeal?”

            Its called legal process, when there are two opposing positions on a certain matter. What you should be saying is thanks to the NZ legal process we were able to advance our argument, and on the day it was proved correct.

            Look forward to the 2017 version, and maybe others might jump on board and do a Andy Little or Winston version as well.

      • save nz 18.1.3

        “I would personally LOVE to hear the efforts of a right-wing musician” – of course right wingers don’t believe in paying artists either aka Eminen shows, just some random intermediary who takes the money from the artist. The trickle down strikes again.

        • rsbandit 18.1.3.1

          Do you want to be retrospective about paying money for chord progressions?

          There wouldn’t be much music being played…

      • mickysavage 18.1.4

        +1 Darren!

  19. repateet 19

    I got into the the spirit of the Electoral Commission ban on Darren Watson. I was sure they’d support my contention about the Rugby News cover with John Key.

    That wasn’t election advertising according to them. Go figure.

    • Leftie 19.1

      The Electoral Commission were being selective and turned a blind eye for their master, John key. Of course that was election advertising.

  20. simbit 20

    Who is/are the Electoral Commission?

    Can’t find out on their/her/its webpage…

    http://www.elections.org.nz

  21. Dale 21

    Yep,bunch of hairy faced fucktards are gonna win the next election!

    • reason 21.1

      …. your writing is very creative dale ……. !

      for a dick pic 😉 ………. as troll=human dick pic

      angry trolls are most always male*……. why is that ? 🙂

      ………… *Kactus kate being a dishonorable offensive exception

  22. Marcus 22

    The Electoral Commission’s comment basically added up to an admission that they knew they were wrong in the first place.
    If that is so, then that raises an important question: who told them to ban it?
    Obvious answer: John Key and the National Party.
    So when did the EC start taking orders direct from the National Party?
    From the last election apparently.
    Does anyone care that this is absolutely illegal?
    The EC is supposed to be independent and politically neutral. It is very hard to argue that they still are now.

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  • 2020 IPANZ Annual Address
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