Labour MPs publish near-identical opinion pieces in local paper

Jamie Strange and Priyanca Radhakrishnan wrote near-identical opinion pieces.
Jamie Strange and Priyanca Radhakrishnan wrote near-identical opinion pieces. Photo credit: Stuff

Two Labour Party backbench MPs have had near-identical opinion pieces published side by side in local Waikato newspaper Hamilton Press.

Jamie Strange and Priyanca Radhakrishnan both submitted short opinion pieces on the Christchurch terror attack. They were published on pages eight and nine of the paper, alongside a piece from National's Stuart Smith.

The two Labour pieces begin by explaining gun law changes ("every weapon now used in the Christchurch terror attack is now banned") and acknowledge the firearm-owning community ("I want to thank them for their pragmatism and solidarity.")

They go on to share identical paragraphs across three-quarters of the article.

When identical phrasing is highlighted (see below) a channel of relief from the bright yellow is only provided by Smith's column, placed between the two Labour pieces, which also discusses to Christchurch terror attack.

The opinion pieces in Hamilton Press.
The opinion pieces in Hamilton Press. Photo credit: Stuff

Jonathan Mackenzie, Stuff Waikato region editor, told Newshub there are some loyal readers of the local paper so he "wouldn't be surprised if there are some complaints", though there have been none so far.

Radhakrishnan and Strange told Newshub they asked the research team for guidance because of the sensitive nature of the columns. That guidance was also sent to other MPs.

"I asked for guidance because the issue around gun law reform is a sensitive one and I wanted to make sure that I got the details correct and that I didn't inadvertently mislead readers," Radhakrishnan told Newshub. 

She said she has been writing the column for Stuff since last year and "can confirm" she writes her own articles.

Mr Strange said it was his first column in the Hamilton Press.

"Due to the sensitive nature of this incident, I requested guidance around content, to ensure appropriate wording," Strange said.

Labour Party President Nigel Haworth told Newshub only that "the party neither writes nor vets MPs' news contributions".


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