None of our readers should be surprised to hear of a politician ducking questions. But Deputy PM Grant Robertson’s handling of questions about “The Great Reset” and what he did subsequently bear closer examination.
The questions posed by host Peter Williams appeared designed to give Magic Talk Mornings listeners a better understanding of this Great Reset caper and whether New Zealand would be involved.
But Roberson dismissed the phrase as a conspiracy theory and – we are told – will no longer appear on the show.
As far as Point of Order can ascertain The Great Reset is an initiative of the World Economic Forum which has triggered conspiracy theories among reactionaries who fear it is part of a vile Marxist plot to over-tax them or otherwise do them a serious economic mischief.
But there are umpteen conspiracy theories around all sorts of things, including Covid-19 and the vaccines to deal with it. Will Robertson no long be talking about them, either?
The WEF says on its website:
There is an urgent need for global stakeholders to cooperate in simultaneously managing the direct consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. To improve the state of the world, the World Economic Forum is starting The Great Reset initiative.
Drawing from the vision and vast expertise of the leaders engaged across the Forum’s communities, the Great Reset initiative has a set of dimensions to build a new social contract that honours the dignity of every human being.
Williams presumably wondered if a government focused on the people’s wellbeing and on our being kind to each other is involved or intending to become involved and, if so, what sorts of policies should we brace for.
During his regular weekly chat with Robertson (according to his account of what happened last Thursday morning) he asked:
Grant, what’s your understanding of the phrase – the movement – called “the Great Reset”, and is New Zealand going to be part of it?
Well, Peter, I think it’s actually absurd that you raise that on the programme today. My understanding – which I’ve only recently read about this – is this is a giant conspiracy theory.
PW: Well, it’s put about by the World Economic Forum isn’t it?
GR: No, it’s a giant conspiracy theory that’s got no credit whatsoever. The talk of resets – and I’m doing a conference organised by the Chartered Accountants Association of Australia New Zealand shortly – is a reference to the fact that we’ve had a massive global economic shock and there is an opportunity and a challenge there to reset the economy, so that we’re able to meet the big challenges of the 21st century.
Klaus Schwab and the World Economic Forum may have used that phrase at some point but there is absolutely no foundation to the conspiracy theory that there is something called “the Great Reset” that countries around the world are indulging in.
PW: So this presentation you’re doing with Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand in a couple of weeks which is called, I note, “Ready to Reset”, that’s got nothing to do with what the WEF is saying?
GR: Just think about how absurd that sounds, Peter.
Assuming this is a full account, it seems Williams hit a nerve.
A few hours later, he says, Robertson’ senior press secretary Chris Bramwell advised:
“I’m sorry to do this, but we will have to pull out of the Minister’s weekly slot on your programme. Having him shoot down conspiracy theories on air is not really a constructive use of his time. Thanks for being so good to deal with over the past year or so.”
Writing about this afterwards, Williams again mentioned Robertson being scheduled to be part of a forum on Zoom for Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand which is called “Ready for Reset.”
“You know, words matter. If Grant Robertson thinks the calls for a Great Reset coming from the World Economic Forum, and the comment pushing back against it are a big conspiracy theory, then he should stop using the very word which has people all over the world highly suspicious. That word is ‘reset’.”
Robertson’s ministerial colleague, Willie Jackson, on the other hand, has vilified the interviewer:
The decision by our Deputy Prime Minister, Grant Robertson to walk away from Peter Williams Magic Talk show was not lightly made!
As politicians in a democracy we are obliged to make ourselves available to the media so that we can be challenged on the important issues of the day and this Government welcomes the scrutiny of the functioning fourth estate.
Peter Williams sadly is not part of a functioning fourth estate…
This isn’t about cancelling Peter Williams, anyone can listen to him, it’s about asking basic journalistic standards for crying out loud.
This Government, and we as your elected servants, are always available to be questioned and debated with but irresponsible broadcasters who have spent too much time reading conspiracy theories on Facebook are part of the problem, not the solution!
If Magic Talk get some decent hosts and stopped peddling conspiracies, I’m sure Labour MPs will return.
We suppose a decent host is a left-wing one programmed to include plenty of te reo in his or her vocabulary.
When Point of Order went looking for more information about the WEF initiative and suspicions it is a socialist conspiracy, we found a mountain of material. Examples –
This article in Forbes was written by John Mauldin, a financial writer, publisher, and author and President of Mauldin Economics.
The Great Reset is my term for climactic events that resolve our global debt overload while at the same time dealing with slow economic growth, high unemployment and social unrest.
I’ve talked about this concept for many years. I expected this would happen after we hit a debt wall, likely in the late 2020s. But, like many other things that have been accelerated by current events, this type of Great Reset is coming even sooner.
More recently, others have started using this term for their own purposes. The World Economic Forum sees the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to completely reset capitalism.
Mauldin takes issue with much of what the WEF proposes but he agrees capitalism has gone off track and needs some major adjustments.
The current morass of crony capitalism and lobbying for special government favors is abhorrent.
But “revamp all aspects of our societies and economies” sounds ominous. Especially coming from the WEF—the people who nominally run the global economy.
Further, what they really propose is that maybe they pay a little more in taxes while those further down the food chain carry the brunt of change.
When you start talking about resetting the educational and social contracts and working conditions, you are talking a radical social agenda. I believe we must—and will—have considerable change in the social structure of this country.
That is what the current partisan politics is telling us. Too many people on both sides feel the current “social contract,” however they define it, is not working for them. Income and wealth inequality are very real.
Mauldin is not convinced a WEF-style “Great Reset” is the answer.
Fortunately, I don’t think WEF will get very far. More likely, this is another example of wealthy, powerful elites salving their consciences with faux efforts to help the masses, and in the procss make themselves even wealthier and more powerful.
This article by Jennifer Graham says the Great Reset initiative by the World Economic Forum has set off conspiracy theories, as well as serious pushback against what critics regard as a socialist agenda.
In June last year, she writes, a German economist and engineer drafted a vision for what the world might look like after the coronavirus pandemic is over. He described how countries could come together to facilitate “the Great Reset,” a reordering of social and economic priorities.
She was referring to Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum, who believes there will be no “getting back to normal” after COVID-19 subsides, saying the pandemic represents a global inflection point.
“Some analysts call it a major bifurcation, others refer to a deep crisis of ‘biblical’ proportions but the essence remains the same: the world as we knew it in the early months of 2020 is no more, dissolved in the context of the pandemic,” Schwab wrote with Thierry Malleret in “COVID-19: The Great Reset,” published in July.
Schwab envisions the Great Reset as an opportunity to make the world better and more resilient, to capitalize on accelerating change. But many people see something much more sinister in this vision, Graham points out.
Her article essentially examines why a policy paper by a German economist become so worrisome in some quarters of America and sets out three reasons for the concern.
This was written for The Conversation by Jonathan Michie, professor of Innovation & Knowledge Exchange at the University of Oxford.
Discussing the WEF’s vision of a “great reset”, he says:
The WEF seeks action across seven key themes: environmental sustainability; fairer economies; “tech for good”; the future of work and the need for reskilling; better business; healthy futures with fair access for all; and “beyond geopolitics” – national governments collaborating globally.
The WEF says the key is reestablishing public trust, which is “being eroded, in part due to the perceived mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic”. But this may prove difficult, given there is little change in corporate or government leadership. The big hope is 78-year-old Joe Biden, who was US vice president for eight years during which many of these problems were mounting, not being solved.
We need bold initiatives to tackle the threat of future pandemics; financial speculation, tax evasion and avoidance, and the threat of financial crises; and to reduce the unsustainable inequalities of wealth, income and power across the globe.
Will corporate and political decision-makers rise to the challenge? There needs to be sufficient popular pressure – from citizens, voters, consumers, workers, educators and activists – to push governments and business to change course fundamentally.
In this country, alas, we must wonder about Robertson’s readiness to rise to the challenge.