NZ Election 2020: The New Conservative Party's fight for inclusion in TVNZ multi-party debate dismissed

The New Conservatives' fight to be included in TVNZ's multi-party debate has been dismissed.

The party took TVNZ to court over the supposed snub, claiming its strong positions on the election's two referendums - the legalisation of recreational cannabis and the legalisation of euthanasia - justified their inclusion in Thursday night's event.

Lawyers representing the state-owned network argued the party's opinions on the referendums were irrelevant as the debate centres on the party seats, and the New Conservatives had failed to offer any alternative inclusion criteria.

TVNZ's decision-making process is based on carefully applied qualification criteria, an attorney said, and poll results factor heavily in whether a party is eligible to participate. 

The New Conservatives argued the party had been falsely informed that the criteria was consistent with that of the last election, and different parties had been told different things. The party's legal team also said some discretion should be applied to the inclusion criteria, to which TVNZ rebutted that the network is looking to be as objective as possible.

Yet at the urgent hearing held in Auckland High Court on Wednesday, the judge dismissed the New Conservatives' application.

New Conservative Party leader Leighton Baker.
New Conservative Party leader Leighton Baker. Photo credit: Newshub Nation

According to the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll, the New Conservatives are polling at 2.1 percent of the vote - well below the 5 percent threshold required for a party to make it into Parliament.

The New Conservative Party was founded by businessman Colin Craig in 2011 and is currently led by Leighton Baker.