JOSH MARSHALL AGAINST THE POST
Case Number: 3442
Council Meeting: 30 October 2023
Decision: No Grounds to Proceed
Publication: The Dominion Post
Principle: Accuracy, Fairness and Balance
Polls and Surveys
The Post published an article on September 15, 2023, headlined: Voters want a referendum on co-governance - but not bi-lingual signs, poll shows.
The story reported the results of a Post/Freshwater Strategy poll which posed the question: “To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: there should be a referendum on Māori co-governance, to end the confusion and let every New Zealander have a say.”
The question was based on the ACT Party’s campaign to have a referendum on the issue. The story reported differing views on co-governance and other issues including bi-lingual road signs, the naming of government agencies and ethnic representation in Parliament
Josh Marshall complained the poll question was loaded and premised on the proposition that co-governance was confusing or that every New Zealander does not have a say currently. He said it was inherently biased.
The Post responded that this was one of a number of questions posed to around 1500 voters on issues that have been prominent in the election year conversation.
Questions around co-governance were based on the fact that this was clearly one of the more central issues in the campaign.
“It would be surprising if we didn’t probe voters on that issue in those circumstances – and in fact if the alternative is that we avoid asking the question altogether then I don’t consider that acceptable journalistic practice.”
The Media Council considers the story was a fair report on a political poll and the position of certain parties on the issue of co-governance, ACT’s referendum proposal, and other matters of political debate in the election campaign. The report of the question was accurate. It was not for the publisher to query it, assuming there was a basis for doing so.
A case has not been made to show that the poll question cited in this complaint was biased and a breach of Media Council Principle (1)
Accuracy, Fairness and Balance.
Decision: There were no grounds to proceed.