National are starting to act like they've got the election in the bag - and if they weren't confident enough already, the Rugby World Cup is just another thing in their favour

It's less than a month until the greatest political distraction the country's seen since, well, who knows when.

That's right, the Rugby World Cup kicks off on September 9 and it's going to suck huge amounts of oxygen out of the political debate in the three months prior to polling day.

And you know who's most delighted about that, don't you? National. In terms of democracy and an informed public, it's terrible.

From a political viewpoint, however, it's the gift to the governing party that will give and give, day after day after day until almost the end of October.

Already, government ministers are kicking for touch, refusing interviews and clamming up on anything that might spark public debate.

For them, the odd press release, set piece community visits and a five minute stand-up as they walk the corridors of parliament amount to communicating with the public.

As I say, bad for democracy, but for them, good politics. I'm sad to say it's what any party would do these days.

For the other parties, even National's coalition partners, it's a strategic nightmare. It takes time - and numerous media mentions - for people to absorb policy.

Just look at Labour's capital gains tax. I was speaking to someone recently furious at the idea because of the cost it would impose on his family home - not realising that the family home is exempt in Labour's plan.

And if you think it's tough for Labour, imagine being one of the minor parties, trying, say, to discuss its tax policy when the country's in the midst of a debate about the best All Blacks wing pairing..

What many forget is that news is finite - there are only so many pages in a newspaper and minutes in a news hour.


This is the start of my post at To continue reading, click here. But feel free to add comments and debate below


Comments (4)

by Mr Magoo on August 18, 2011
Mr Magoo

Sorry. No time to read your article.

I am halfway through this amazing piece on how telecom wanted me to stop having sex...

The CHEEK of it!!

by stuart munro on August 19, 2011
stuart munro

Bread and circuses, the last desperate expedient of the very worst emperors. But without the bread. Let the All Blacks choke and the McGillycutty Serious Party will be a good bet as Nats ragequit...

As for Telecom - NZ's most hated company - they must lie awake at nights trying to think up new ways to make themselves less popular. Dunno why they gave the campaign up really.

by Frank Macskasy on August 24, 2011
Frank Macskasy

I read your full article on the TVNZ site, Tim, and I share your concerns fully. Indeed, it's one of my pet-peeves.

I timed TV1 news tonight; seven minutes (roughly) dedicated to the naming of the All Blacks Team, including a piece of Israel Dagg's background (including where he was born, for gods' sakes!).

I wouldn't care much - except it was inserted as the lead story, in the MAIN BODY ofthe news. Not in the Sporting Section which has it's own 20 minutes segment.

I look forward to the day they insert business stories in the Sporting Segment. Or crime/Court stories during the Weather Report.

God, I feel like going to stay with my folks overseas, and doing my voting by long-distance.




by Kathleen Reid on September 03, 2011
Kathleen Reid

I fully agree with you Tim.  But if we don't win the World Cup the attention will quickly turn to politics after the Tournament ends.  Then I believe the debate will be quite concentrated and National will have to lift their game.  Labour annoy me as they are not providing a viable alternative to National but the environment will benefit if the Labour votes bleed to the Greens.

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