A question about the $55m media fund made Ardern laugh… but not for long

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This article was written for The Democracy Project by Graham Adams, a journalist, columnist and reviewer who has written for many of the country’s media outlets including Metro, North & South, Noted, The Spinoff and Newsroom.

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Surprisingly for a Minister of Finance, Grant Robertson is an ebullient, jolly sort of fellow and it is not unusual for him to barrack from his seat next to the Prime Minister in Parliament to support her.

This week, Judith Collins had barely finished putting a question to Jacinda Ardern about media funding when he guffawed derisively.

Collins asked:

What does she say to people who are concerned that her $55 million Public Interest Journalism Fund — which includes numerous criteria for media to adhere to — is influencing the editorial decisions of media outlets in New Zealand?”

The Prime Minister — perhaps encouraged by her deputy’s derision — rose from her seat to reply.

“Mr Speaker,” she declaimed emphatically, “I would abso-loot-ely reject that!”

With Robertson continuing to chortle at the ridiculousness of Collins’ question, Ardern was emboldened.

“But, better yet, Mr Speaker,” she said, grinning broadly and stifling a laugh: “I would put the question to the media and ask whether they agree with that sentiment.”

Despite the Prime Minister’s obvious glee and that of her colleagues, this was an exceedingly stupid retort. Presumably she is not acquainted with Mandy Rice-Davies’ contribution to the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations as a result of the Profumo scandal in 1960s Britain. When legal counsel pointed out that a peer had denied having had an affair with her or even having met her, Rice-Davies uttered the immortal line:

“Well he would [say that], wouldn’t he?” Continue reading “A question about the $55m media fund made Ardern laugh… but not for long”

Peters found much to scorn (and the Nats should be finding fault with the govt too) but Ardern’s popularity is hard to puncture

The country’s politics  are  in  an  interesting   phase. Labour,  despite  a  litany of policy disasters, is  still  riding the  top  of its  wave, buoyed  by  the  incandescent  popularity  of  Jacinda  Ardern.

National  is  plumbing  the  depths, as  it  has  done  before  when  it  has  suffered  a  massive defeat.  ACT, in contrast,  believes  it  is  climbing  out of  the  shadows   to  win  broader, and more  permanent, support. And  Winston  Peters  has emerged, once  more,   from  the political  wilderness and  struck the  themes  which could propel  NZ  First   back  into  the  role  which it has  played  so  often  before.

Peters  scored  direct  hits  on  the  kind of “woke” politics and policies currently in the ascendancy under the Ardern government, delighting in  verbal sprays on the “woke elite” or “Ngati Woke”, cancel culture, the Auckland cycle bridge, the He Puapua report, ditching referendas on Māori wards, the decision to buy the land at Ihumātao, increased state usage of te reo Māori and especially “Aotearoa”. Continue reading “Peters found much to scorn (and the Nats should be finding fault with the govt too) but Ardern’s popularity is hard to puncture”

Climate could provide Peters and his party with a platform for warming voters and bouncing back at the next election

Peters  is   back,  the  headlines  shouted.

Well,  not  quite.  Winston Peters  may  have  stepped  into  the political  limelight  again, after  a  spell  in political  darkness – but he  and  his  party  are a  long  way  from  Parliament.   And  even  though  he  looks  fit  and  well,   can he – at the age of 76 –  find  the  spark  which  will fire  up  the  NZ  First  engine  again?

His  disciple,  Shane Jones,  is  firmly  convinced  he  can.  Furthermore, Jones believes the  party can forge a  new  crusade  out  of  the  “perfidy”  of  what  the Climate  Change  Commission is  doing  to  NZ.

Jones   sees  the  commissioners  as  “ideological  termites”,  who  hold  sway  over  the  government  with  “mad  ideas”  of the sort that could  required us all as if we  are  all  going to  ride  bikes

Jones  cites the  example  of 10,000 bikers in  Birkenhead  exerting  their power  on the  government  to build a bridge  for them over  the Auckland  harbour.

Continue reading “Climate could provide Peters and his party with a platform for warming voters and bouncing back at the next election”

The prospect of Peters being dubbed Sir Winston is raised – but maybe he would rather plan another comeback

So  who  will   head  up  the New  Year’s honours list?  Speculation  in the  Wellington  Beltway has  centred  on whether  it will  feature Winston Peters.

On  one  side  there  are those  who contend his long career in politics  culminating in his term as deputy Prime Minister  should be recognised with a  knighthood.  Others  ridicule  the  idea.  There  is,  too,  all   that  mysterious finanacial business involving  the NZ First Foundation, which somehow bypassed the attention of the NZ First leader.

Besides, there  is a  school which contends politics  runs  so strongly  in his blood  he  can’t  resist  thinking  of a  comeback. Continue reading “The prospect of Peters being dubbed Sir Winston is raised – but maybe he would rather plan another comeback”

After we learn the Greens’ role in the new government, the focus should turn to who gets jobs such as Foreign Affairs

Media attention since the general election has focused largely on the shape of any formal relationship between Labour and the Greens in the formation of the next government.     

But the need for party leaders to negotiate, talk or whatever with other party leaders to forge a government partnership is very different from three years ago.

The 2017 election on September 23 was followed by a prolonged bout of negotiations which ultimately resulted in the announcement on October 19 that New Zealand First leader Winston Peters and his party had chosen to put Labour into power.

Peters landed the jobs of deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister in the new government.

At this year’s election Labour won an outright majority on election night and does not need a coalition partner to form a government. Continue reading “After we learn the Greens’ role in the new government, the focus should turn to who gets jobs such as Foreign Affairs”

Peters and Mark remind us they still have ministerial work to do as governmental caretakers

Hey – look whose names appeared on the only press statement to be posted on The Beehive website yesterday, two days after Election Day and the first statement to be posted on the site since October 15.

The names are those of Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Defence Minister Ron Mark.

And no, they don’t have to pack their bags just yet despite their trouncing at the polls.  The rules that apply in the immediate period after election day are spelled out on the website of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet: 

During the government formation process, the current government remains in office, as it is still the lawful executive authority, with all the powers and responsibilities that go with executive office.

But don’t expect anything radical to happen: Continue reading “Peters and Mark remind us they still have ministerial work to do as governmental caretakers”

Polls portend the toppling of Peters and his extraordinary political career – replacing him in Foreign Affairs won’t be easy

Will  we  miss him  when  he is  gone?

Love him  or  loathe  him,  Winston  Peters   is  one   of the  extraordinary  characters  on the  NZ  political  stage.  Through  his  remarkable  career,   he  has  registered   the  highs — and  lows — of  politics.

But  now  after  his  latest stint  as  Deputy Prime Minister  and  Foreign  Minister, the latest opinion polling show he is  facing political  oblivion.  NZ  First’s support  has shrunk to  just 1%.

This  perhaps  comes  as  no  surprise    after   the  financial  shenanigans  involving    the  NZ  First  Foundation,  despite  Peters   asserting  the  party  and  MPs   have been  “exonerated”.

 The  Serious  Fraud  Office  announced  last week  that two  people  are  being charged  after  a  probe  into  the  foundation.

The   SFO investigation discovered  credible  evidence   of   criminal  wrongdoing   at  the foundation,  which has  no other purpose  than to  serve  the  NZ  First  Party.

No matter how  Peters rails  against  the  SFO,  the  hard  truth  is that one of the  country’s  major  law  enforcement  agencies  is charging  two  people  with  connections  to the  NZ  First  Party, even if  they  are  not current members  of it. Continue reading “Polls portend the toppling of Peters and his extraordinary political career – replacing him in Foreign Affairs won’t be easy”

Tracey Martin strikes a blow against ageism – here’s hoping the sentiment lasts more than a day (and that Genter was listening)

The team at Point of Order – proudly  comprising veteran journalists – had been blissfully unaware that yesterday was a special day for us.

It was International Older Persons Day, a matter of huge import drawn to our attention by Seniors Minister Tracey Martin.

Martin’s statement included some fascinating data:

  • By 2027 it is expected there will be a million seniors and by 2034, more than a fifth (21.4%) – 1.2 million New Zealanders – will be aged 65+.
  • As at June 2020 there were 88,000 people 85 or older –  11% of the senior population. That number is predicted to rise to 179,000 in 2034.
  • The senior population is increasingly diverse.  By 2034 the number of Māori aged 65+ will more than double from 2018 figures (from 48,500 to 109,400) the senior Pacific population will also do this (from 21,300 to 46,700), and there will be nearly three times as many Asian NZers aged 65+ (from 59,500 to 171,900).
  • Seniors currently make up around 6.7% of the workforce (in the June 2020 quarter).  By 2033 the number of seniors at work will increase by more than 50% and make up 9.5% of the workforce.

We were just as interested in – and hopeful about –  Martin’s declaration that International Older Persons Day had been a chance to think about the individual older New Zealanders we know and to confront ageism.

“On the International Day of Older Persons, let’s remind ourselves that older people are our parents and grandparents and move away from casual ageism.”

We would like to suppose ageism will be confronted far beyond the 24 hours of International Older Persons Day.

And we trust Martin took time to have a chat with Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter about her odious attitude to oldies. Continue reading “Tracey Martin strikes a blow against ageism – here’s hoping the sentiment lasts more than a day (and that Genter was listening)”

When the Greens press party leaders to continue commitment to science, we wonder if they include themselves

Latest from the Beehive

We drew a blank, when we paid our morning visit to the Beehive website.  Nothing had been posted since Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage announced the Government’s plans to phase out more single-use and problem plastics to reduce waste and protect the environment.

Hmm.  Let’s check our email in-tray.

This contained advice about the PM’s next media conference – in tandem with the DG of Health – on the virus thing that has thrown politics and politicking into a bit of a tizz. The conference is at 1pm today.

Our email also brought statements (all Covid-related) headed  – Continue reading “When the Greens press party leaders to continue commitment to science, we wonder if they include themselves”

Peters abjures pixie dust (while saving us from the nanny state) but he might need some to win seats at this year’s election

So  what’s  the wily  old  master  up  to now?   In  his  opening  campaign  speech,  Winston  Peters attacked   his  coalition   partners.  His  party,  he  says,  is   sick  of  “woke pixie  dust”  from  them:

New  Zealanders  need to know what’s out there,  and what they have been  saved  from.”  

 Surely  he is not talking   about  Jacinda Ardern  and her  party?   Haven’t  they  been  our  saviours from  the  coronovirus   pandemic?

Peters  then  spells    out   what he has  saved  us from:  NZ   First has  been  the  handbrake   on  the  “nanny state”.

We’ve used  commonsense  to hold  Labour and the  Greens to account. We’ve  opposed   woke pixie  dust. We’ve defended  socially  conservative  values, like the right to believe in  God. We’ve focussed  on the wisdom of sound  economics”.

 Will   voters  on  September   19   show  their  gratitude? Continue reading “Peters abjures pixie dust (while saving us from the nanny state) but he might need some to win seats at this year’s election”