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Officials on wrong planet over song: court

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 19/10/2016
Planet Key, the John Key parody video that surfaced before the 2014 election. © YouTube/Darren Watson Planet Key, the John Key parody video that surfaced before the 2014 election.

The satirical song and music video Planet Key, which was banned in the lead up to the 2014 general election has now been deemed to be not an election advertisement.

The Court of Appeal has dismissed an Electoral Commission appeal over the song, which lampooned Prime Minister John Key.

The Monty Python-style video by Jeremy Jones showed Key standing waist-deep in oil-polluted water playing a guitar riff on a Maui's dolphin, with a burning oil rig in the background.

A High Court had said the commission was wrong to ban the song and video but the commission appealed, seeking to define "election advertisement" and "election programme".

The appeal court now says the song and video were not an advertisement. It was not clear why the commission thought it was, the justices say.

Wellington musician Darren Watson and Jones were plainly not parallel campaigners and it clearly had entertainment value.

"The lyrics denigrated Mr Key as uncaring and even venal, and they advised voters who cared about that not to vote for him, but the legislation requires more.

"The lyrics did not encourage voters to vote by reference to views or positions adopted by Mr Key."

The song was for sale on iTunes, which should have been a pointer to the commission it was not an advertisement, they said.

The justices also said the commission was wrong to characterise the song as an election programme and it was ordered to pay Watson and Jones' legal costs.

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