NZ Election 2020: Advance NZ files urgent interlocutory injunction application against MediaWorks

Jami-Lee Ross and Billy Te Kahika, the co-leaders of Advance NZ, have filed an urgent interlocutory injunction application against MediaWorks after the political party was excluded from a Newshub Nation multi-party leaders' debate.

The application was filed in the Auckland High Court on Tuesday, a statement from the party revealed.

Independent Botany MP Ross says MediaWorks' decision not to include Advance NZ in Newshub Nation's upcoming Powerbrokers multi-party leaders' debate will cause the party serious harm if left unchallenged.

The debate, to be aired on October 3, will feature Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson, ACT leader David Seymour, NZ First leader Winston Peters and Māori Party's John Tamihere.

Advance NZ will be participating in the upcoming TVNZ's minor party leaders' debate, Ross said, and therefore should have also been asked by Newshub Nation.

"The debate will include minor parties that have representation in Parliament, as well as the Māori Party, which is not currently represented," Ross said in a statement.

"Seeking judicial intervention is no small step, but as one of the guardians of television coverage of the democratic process, MediaWorks' decision requires urgent review. 

"Advance NZ believes in the importance of New Zealanders hearing a range of opinions from political parties ahead of casting their ballot, and that parties should have fair access to major public platforms."

In a statement, a MediaWorks' spokesperson said: "We intend to defend our decision not to include the Advance NZ party".

"We are aware of the injunction application against MediaWorks and are comfortable with our decision that the Advance NZ party does not meet the criteria for the Newshub Nation Powerbrokers debate," they said.

"Our criteria for participation in the debate has been in place since July and is 'leaders of parties that have won seats in the last two parliamentary terms'."

Ross, a former National Party MP, merged his Advance NZ with Te Kahika's New Zealand Public Party in July.

Ross formed his party following his highly-publicised expulsion from National. The MP, who accused former leader Simon Bridges of corruption and fraud, now faces electoral fraud charges laid by the Serious Fraud Office over donations collected for the party. He has defended himself as a whistleblower.

The Advance NZ leader announced he will not be contesting the Botany electorate this election, a seat he has held since 2011. As a National MP, Ross secured the Botany seat with more than 60 percent of the vote in 2017.