Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Put up a poster, it's election year

Appeared in the Wellingtonian and on Stuff.co.nz
16/07/2008

Political parties are taking up hotly contested poster spots in Wellington's central business district in the lead-up to the general election later this year.

With at least four months until the general election, some political parties are already making their mark on CBD buildings, power boxes and street lamps with their campaign advertising.

In the CBD, the Workers Party and the Green Party have started visible election campaigns.

Their posters, plastered in places usually reserved for advertising music shows, are becoming prominent around the CBD.

Nick Kelly, the Wellington branch organiser of the socialist Workers Party, says they started putting up their posters in early July, well before most other political parties.

The posters are simple in design, list the party's website and some have slogans the party support.

Mr Kelly says the small party, who are in the process of registering with the electoral office as a political party, are using this simple and cheap method to get their name out there early.

The Green Party is the only other party to have used this postering method this year.

In April the Green Party launched their campaign using pop-art styled posters of graffiti images and slogans.

The posters were visible throughout the CBD in April but have since been postered over or pulled down.
Likewise, many of the Workers Party posters up in the CBD have already been pulled down or covered over in the last week because of competition for poster space.

Mr Kelly says this is why they have a team of supporters to regularly put up the posters, some of which are done so illegally.

But the Wellington City Council says it often takes a relaxed approach to this kind of advertising, even though it is "technically illegal".

Council communications adviser Richard MacLean says postering on council-owned places is technically illegal and that most private property owners don't like it.

He says the council's approach to postering depends on where they are put and what they are of.
He says grotesque or offensive posters are usually taken down.

"It depends on the part of town.

"We take a slightly relaxed view, like if it's Cuba Street."

Mr MacLean says he does not see election advertising, especially on such a small scale as the Workers Party, as a big problem.

"Generally people go for bigger electoral hoardings.

"I don't think pasting an A4 piece of paper is that effective."

However, Mr Kelly says their campaign method of postering has been effective so far.

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"The day we put them up the hits on our website went up, off the record, and the only thing that happened was we put them up."

However, with the 2007 Electoral Finance Act, the Workers Party have already broken a national law in their postering.

While the posters have the national campaign manager, Rebecca Broad's name on them, they do not have her street address, required under the 2007 Electoral Finance Act.

Mr Kelly says the party has not yet been pulled up on these and has since made posters with correct authorisation.

He says leaving off the information, which, if the police prosecute the party could cost them $20,000, was a "genuine mistake".