Case Number: 3083

Council Meeting: AUGUST 2021

Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Stuff

Ruling Categories: Cartoons


Andrew Rouppe van der Voort complained about a cartoon by Tom Scott published by Stuff on July 3, 2021. It is headedPolar storm blasts capital. Judith Collins misses opportunity to re-enact historic selfless act.It depicts Judith Collins dressed as a polar explorer walking out of her tent into an Antarctic blizzard sayingI am going outside. I may be some time. The cartoon is a reference to the famous last words and actions of Antarctic explorer Captain Lawrence Oates who died in 1912 on the Terra Nova expedition.

The complainant says the cartoon should not have been published as it exhorts Judith Collins to commit suicide. He also believed it breached Principle 9 of the Harmful Digital Communications Act.

The Media Council is not an approved agency under that Act and can only consider the complaint under its own principles.

This cartoon is clearly an expression of opinion and there is a long tradition for giving cartoonists wide scope to make sharp comment on public affairs. In this case it is a reference to the state of the National Party, its flagging polls and leadership issues.

The reference to Oates’ sacrificial act and famous last words are a suggestion that Judith Collins should consider resigning her position as National Party leader. It is not an incitement to commit suicide.

There are insufficient grounds for the complaint to proceed.