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.
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.
“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”