Something is rotten in the state of Denmark when senior journalists like Fran O’Sullivan feel that they have to provide public relations advice to National’s errant Ministers. It isn’t as though there aren’t enough PR people already in the Beehive to reinforce whatever John Key said about “phone-throwers or “temper tantrums” at Cabinet last Monday.
Nick Smith has also received a personal dressing-down from Stephen Joyce about what Fran variously calls his “stand-over tactics”, “bizarre rush of blood to the head” and “breaking every governance rule in the book”.
Many people will know that’s normal for Nick. And now we know Nick has been warned, it’s what we are not warned about that’s important.
Fran goes on to say:
“The warning is apposite. There is a fine line between leveraging the impact of the recession on the financial health of the government’s own assets to create what in”management speak’ is often referred to as a “burning deck” to force radical change, and downright chicanery.”
Now for the chicanery:
“Take the financial stimulus. When talking to the Asian Wall St Journal’s Mary Bissel, Key paints a picture which makes him the odd man out among international leaders. He is intent on major reform, cutting taxes, removing red tape and so forth.
But internally, he sells the message that his government is presiding over a fiscal stimulus which is the sixth-largest in the world”
So to the PR advice:
“Most Kiwis are tuned into what’s happening on the international stage and will accept the rationale Key trotted out for Bissel, if he runs a similar line at his own conferences with domestic reporters.”
Most Kiwis don’t have clue what’s coming at us. As for domestic reporters, the business pages have for some time now been far more informative than the political ones. But there is no excuse for a senior journalist like Fran who does both.
Oh for a Jon Stewart Down Under!