Political nerds mark your calendars the first election year television debates have been scheduled.
Prime Minister Bill English and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern will go head to head for the first time in an hour-long debate on TVNZ on August 31.
Coalition partners will get to have their say in a multi-party debate on September 1, while youth issues will be the focus of a debate at Auckland University on September 14.
The final showdown between Mr English and Ms Ardern will be a final hour-long debate on September 20, just three days before voters head to the poll.
Mike Hosking will moderate the three televised leaders debates, while the young voters debate will be hosted by Jack Tame.
New Zealand First leader and Northland MP Winston Peters was unimpressed the choice of Mr Hosking.
“He is a wholly unsuitable choice opinionated and right-leaning,” Mr Peters said in a statement.
“The State-owned broadcaster has to come clean on who they considered. Or did they just call their favourite son and wave a dollar package at him?” Mr Peters said.
“It would be fair to say many New Zealanders are tired of his brand of broadcasting. This goes to the nub of the matter. At election time there is a standard of fairness and balance to be set by broadcasters. The choice of Mr Hosking breaks all those.
“At the same time, TVNZ has undemocratically decided to hold two leaders’ debate with the two old parties Labour and National. TVNZ is relegating all other parties in Parliament to another debate.
“NZ First wants changes and fast, starting with the ditching of Mr Hosking,” Mr Peters said. NZN