This development is going to generate a fair bit of discussion in the media! Duncan Garner reports:
Key, Goff refuse debate with minor parties
The public will once again be denied the opportunity to see John Key and Phil Goff debate all the minor party leaders during the election campaign. Key and Goff have teamed up to turn down TV3’s approach and desire for a 90 minute prime time television debate featuring all the party leaders.
Key says the election is about “who is Prime Minister”, not about who can work together.
Pure arrogance. PMs come and go at the whim of their parties. The election is about which parties form a government. Maybe the electorate will choose to remind Key of that fact.
And because Key won’t do it, Goff has fallen in behind saying he will debate Key anywhere Key wants to front. That means Goff won’t do it either. This is the same cosy backroom deal Helen Clark and John Key did in 2008 – ignore the minor party leaders on the big stage – and debate amongst themselves.
But Goff could and should have taken a different approach. He could have accepted our offer and forced the Prime Minister’s hand. Key would have been the only leader not there. He would have been forced to the table. He would have been subject to taunts of “chicken” had he not fronted. Goff has lost a prime opportunity. He should have taken the risk.
I agree. These “one on one” debates further build the mindset of “presidential” style politics in NZ, and it’s a mindset I think we could well do without. Let’s hear from everyone, and let it be about policies, not politicians.
I can see I think where Goff is coming from. He looks forward to debating Key personally, and expects to come off best in the encounters. It’s good to display that kind of confidence. But bigger picture I think it’s still a mistake. I’d like to see the leaders of major parties sharing the stage, and debating ideas with all comers.