web analytics

Broken English

Written By: - Date published: 11:13 am, November 20th, 2009 - 24 comments
Categories: bill english, economy, Media - Tags:

plain english

It looked like a duck. It walked like a duck. It quacked like a duck. Turns out it was a duck.

The “Plain English” advertisements were effectively party political broadcasts on behalf of the National Party. (Hardly surprising, as they were coauthored by English and his people). Even TVNZ now admits they should never have screened. Quite apart from the illegal free advertising (shades of the Exclusive Brethren campaign in 2005), English had a conflict of interest as shareholding minister.

So now that TVNZ has admitted the obvious, it is reasonable to ask who was responsible for the decision to make and screen these advertisements. The correspondents in the email discussion with Bill over the script are an obvious place to start. Personally I find it hard to believe that a bunch of media professionals can make a party political broadcast for National by accident. My guess is that it was a perfectly deliberate strategy by individuals within TVNZ. They had plenty of chances to pull the ads had it all been a big mistake. Further OIA requests might be interesting to pursue, or perhaps someone within TVNZ might be interested in anonymously shedding light on this matter. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and we need to make sure that this sort of nonsense doesn’t happen again.

In the mean time, I propose in the interests of journalistic balance and integrity, that equal free broadcasting time be given to the finance ministers of the other political parties (perhaps in the ratios that would be calculated under the rules for advertising during the campaign period). Phil Goff has just dropped the biggest economic bombshell of the last 20 years, Labour could use some free air time to explain the implications to the people don’t you think? So how about it TVNZ? Huh. I won’t hold my breath…

24 comments on “Broken English ”

  1. Lew 1

    C’mon, r0b, be serious — next you’ll be asking FIFA to give Ireland another chance …


  2. burt 2

    It’s OK rOb, National will just validate their misuse of tax payers money for party political advertising because the rules were confusing and precedent has been set that when you break the rules you just validate it and move on.

    Shall we debate it at length, I’ll say its bad and you can defend it because it was convenient for parliament to do this and it was in the best interest of the standing govt.

    Or you could shock us all and agree with me that the govt de-jour should be accountable at more than a political level for flouting the rules because they can.

  3. Scribe 3

    Did Bill English, in any of the ads, actually espouse certain policies that are specific to the National Party? Wasn’t it all “we can make it” and “let’s catch the Aussies” and “we’re coming out of the recession” etc?

    It was a bad call from TVNZ, but I don’t think the ads gave National a chance to push its barrow on the economy. It did give Bill some additional airtime, but I suspect he gets more face time on TV than the others anyway by virtue of his position.

    • Lew 3.1

      Scribe, those things are National’s economic policies.


      • Scribe 3.1.1

        I suspected someone might respond that way 🙂

        • Tigger

          National has no economic ‘policies’…policies implies they’re actually thinking stuff up beforehand rather than just making it up as they go.

          It gave English free air-time to push himself with the electorate…unfettered by the interview process and scripted at his leisure. It’s his credibility that was being sold here.

  4. toad 4

    Anyone know where a formal complaint re this should be directed. Chief Electoral Office? Auditor-General? Both?

    • burt 4.1


      Excellent idea, but why bother? Precedent has been set, parliament know what the intent of the rules are better than anyone and any interpretation that they broke the rules will just result in validations passed under urgency supported by partisan hacks who are too short sighted to think about the implications of defending such low standards of integrity because their team is always right.

      • r0b 4.1.1

        Burt, 90% of the time you make the same comment, a lame “labour did it too” excuse (though of course you are almost always spectacularly wrong about that). Don’t you have anything else to contribute? Is that really the limits of your political consciousness?

      • burt 4.1.2

        If you don’t like being shown up as a partisan hack – don’t blog.

        • r0b

          Well yeah one of us is being shown up as a partisan hack Burt, that’s for sure.

        • Draco T Bastard

          You’re the partisan hack burt and you’re a lame duck as well – you’re arguments always go in circles and you fail to learn from any of them.

          • burt


            The only lame duck is the one hoist on his own petard. Defend corruption when the flag is red scream about it when the flag is blue.

            rOb is such an old school activist who although he blogs has failed to notice that what you say in defence of your team can be quoted back at you when you attack the other team. See before blogs the likes of rOb’s idols were massively two faced relying on short public memory to get away with their double standards. rOb may have managed to mirror the partisan nature of his masters but he has failed to notice the spectators don’t need to sit in the library pouring through thousands of pages of hard copy to find his previous positions on issues like this one.

        • burt


          It appears we both think National spending unauthorised tax payers money on party advertising is wrong. Only one of us thinks it was wrong when Labour did it – Therefore one of us is partisan hack.

          I’m comfortable that in my position the party involved is irrelevant to the principles and ethics involved.

          • r0b

            Only one of us thinks it was wrong when Labour did it

            As usual Burt your are wrong about that. I said (during our long discussion of these issues) that Labour, and all other parties (except the Progressives) were morally culpable for pushing the boundaries on election advertising. I also said that they didn’t break the law (which they didn’t), and that there were some some mitigating factors (the AGs rulings being a trifle arbitrary).

            The Plain English case is far simpler. The state funded advertisements are in effect party political broadcasts. That does break the law, and there are no mitigating factors, I think (as per links in the original post) that they knew exactly what they were doing.

            You exist in an imaginary world Burt, constructed out of your false memories and your unreasoning hatred. And you make the same boring comment almost every time – Labour did it too! – r0b is a partisan hack! I ask again – don’t you have anything better to contribute than that?

          • burt

            You also said they did nothing wrong – National validated $50m once, this stuff is completely normal… remember ?

            You are not helping yourself inviting a link back to that discussion.

            Were Labour corrupt for deliberately spending unauthoruised money on advertising and validating it? (remember the chief electoral office warned them not to include the pledge card in the election spending total)

            The same answer we can apply to National over this advertising – particularly if they validate it killing a court case for misuse of public money.

            • r0b

              You also said they did nothing wrong National validated $50m once, this stuff is completely normal remember ?

              I NEVER said that Labour did nothing wrong. It’s issue by issue. I know it’s all squashed together in your head Burt into one big single Labour Bad issue – but we’ve actually discussed many things over the years. Many different accusations against Labour.

              You think Labour are always guilty (Labour Bad! Labour Bad!). I think they are usually not guilty (then I defend them), but sometimes they are guilty (then I admit it).

              So yes, Labour (and National and ACT etc) were wrong to push the boundaries on election advertising. But no they were not wrong to (as usual) validate spending. Separate issues Burt. One wrong. One right. Try and get your head around it.

          • burt


            You also joined NRT pretending that the normal budget validations passed by national this year showed that what Labour did was normal.

            You can just say you were wrong to defend the Labour party over the validations of their advertising. I might leave you alone over this issue if you show some remorse for defending corruption.

            • r0b

              I might leave you alone over this issue if you show some remorse for defending corruption.

              I regard that as a threat Burt, and I’m sick of your wilful lies. Take the rest of the month off. Try to come up with something better to say than “Labour did it too!”.

              [lprent: I was just considering much the same thing. Sounds like a scratched CD with a jump back error. My tolerance level was diminishing real fast. ]

            • Armchair Critic

              Bye burt.

  5. tc 5

    The phrase ‘better to seek forgiveness than attain permission…’ applies much like removing a native tree to develop a site, going woopps sorry, pay the fine say sorry move on…..but that tree is gone for good.

    Did TVNZ know they were on dodgy ground…..YES.
    Did they have opportunity to pull it but did not…..YES
    Is this all more classic PR spin from TVNZ seeking forgiveness when they knew all along they were wrong……YES
    Those responsible in TVNZ are far away from ever being attributed to it and some sacrificial bunny appears in emails…..YES smells like the Veitch saga to me.

    TVNZ aren’t fit to carry a public broadcaster’s bag let alone pretend to be one so any attempts to make them behave as such are wasted.

    IMHO Rick Ellis and his mates have a predesigned spin campaign, hatched in tandem with the events……worse case scenario for recycling Rick would be bunny onto the BBQ, look at us cleaning house aren’t we good……status quo remains.

  6. fizzleplug 6

    A good start by Phil Goff, but until he actually proposes something else, his “bombshell” is just a shell, with no chance of explosiveness.

    Feel free to direct me to his outlined alternatives if I have missed them, I’m interested to see them.

  7. randal 7

    hey r0b.
    you are giving them too much credit by calling teeveewin staff professionals.
    most of them are just hair and teeth manques that got lucky and got the JOB.
    just because they may or may not have learnt shorthand at j-school does not make them professionals.
    how manyof the staff at teeveewun have a degree or any higher study?
    in the low pressure millieu of greasing around politicians in new zealand they excel but take them out into the wider world and they would perish like all hothouse flowers.
    it is time to attack them at the base and not just on their overblown fantasy productions.
    I mean who are they?

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • NZ announces a third P-3 deployment in support of UN sanctions
    The Government has deployed a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion (P-3) maritime patrol aircraft to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposing sanctions against North Korea, announced Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and Minister of Defence Ron Mark. “New Zealand has long supported ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Pacific trade and development agreement a reality
    Pacific regional trade and development agreement PACER Plus will enter into force in 60 days now that the required eight countries have ratified it. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker welcomed the announcement that the Cook Islands is the eighth nation to ratify this landmark agreement. “The agreement represents ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Securing a pipeline of teachers
    The Government is changing its approach to teacher recruitment as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue, by boosting a range of initiatives to get more Kiwis into teaching. “When we came into Government, we were faced with a teacher supply crisis,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “Over the past three years, we ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Border exceptions for a small number of international students with visas
    The Government has established a new category that will allow 250 international PhD and postgraduate students to enter New Zealand and continue their studies, in the latest set of border exceptions. “The health, safety and wellbeing of people in New Zealand remains the Government’s top priority. Tight border restrictions remain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • First COVID-19 vaccine purchase agreement signed
    The Government has signed an agreement to purchase 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccines – enough for 750,000 people – from Pfizer and BioNTech, subject to the vaccine successfully completing all clinical trials and passing regulatory approvals in New Zealand, say Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods and Health Minister Chris Hipkins. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • International statement – End-to-end encryption and public safety
    We, the undersigned, support strong encryption, which plays a crucial role in protecting personal data, privacy, intellectual property, trade secrets and cyber security.  It also serves a vital purpose in repressive states to protect journalists, human rights defenders and other vulnerable people, as stated in the 2017 resolution of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ministry of Defence Biodefence Assessment released
    The Ministry of Defence has today released a Defence Assessment examining Defence’s role across the spectrum of biological hazards and threats facing New Zealand. Biodefence: Preparing for a New Era of Biological Hazards and Threats looks at how the NZDF supports other agencies’ biodefence activities, and considers the context of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020
    New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020 Hon David Parker’s response following Thomas Piketty and Esther Duflo. Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, wherever in the world you might be. I first acknowledge the excellent thought provoking speeches of Thomas Piketty and Esther ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Kaipara Moana restoration takes next step
    A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed today at Waihāua Marae between the Crown, local iwi and councils to protect, restore and enhance the mauri of Kaipara Moana in Northland. Environment Minister David Parker signed the document on behalf of the Crown along with representatives from Ngā Maunga Whakahī, Ngāti ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand and Uruguay unite on reducing livestock production emissions
    Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Uruguayan Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries Carlos María Uriarte have welcomed the launch of a three-year project that will underpin sustainable livestock production in Uruguay, Argentina, and Costa Rica.  The project called ‘Innovation for pasture management’ is led by Uruguay’s National Institute of Agricultural ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • 3100 jobs created through marae upgrades
    Hundreds of marae throughout the country will be upgraded through investments from the Provincial Growth Fund’s refocused post COVID-19 funding to create jobs and put money into the pockets of local tradespeople and businesses, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta have announced. “A total ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Health volunteers recognised in annual awards
    Health Minister Chris Hipkins has announced 9 teams and 14 individuals are the recipients of this year’s Minister of Health Volunteer Awards.  “The health volunteer awards celebrate and recognise the thousands of dedicated health sector volunteers who give many hours of their time to help other New Zealanders,” Mr Hipkins ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community COVID-19 Fund supports Pacific recovery
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says a total of 264 groups and individuals have successfully applied for the Pacific Aotearoa Community COVID-19 Recovery Fund, that will support Pacific communities drive their own COVID-19 recovery strategies, initiatives, and actions. “I am keen to see this Fund support Pacific ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community benefits from Māori apprenticeships
    Up to 50 Māori apprentices in Wellington will receive paid training to build houses for their local communities, thanks to a $2.75 million investment from the Māori Trades and Training Fund, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Ngāti Toa Rangatira Incorporated to provide its Ngā Kaimahi ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Training fund supports Māori jobseekers
    Rapidly growing sectors will benefit from a $990,000 Māori Trades and Training Fund investment which will see Wellington jobseekers supported into work, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Sapphire Consultants Ltd. to help up to 45 Māori jobseekers into paid training initiatives over two years through ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ruakura Inland Port development vital infrastructure for Waikato
    The Government is investing $40 million to develop an inland port at Ruakura which will become a freight super-hub and a future business, research and residential development for the Waikato, Urban Development and Transport Minister Phil Twyford, and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today. The funding has been has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Appointments made to Defence Expert Review Group
    Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today the establishment of an Expert Review Group to review a number of aspects of the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) structure, information management and record-keeping processes.  The Expert Review Group’s work arises out of the first recommendation from the Report of the Government’s Inquiry ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • No active community cases of COVID-19
    There are no active community cases of COVID-19 remaining in the country after the last people from the recent outbreak have recovered from the virus, Health Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “This is a big milestone. New Zealanders have once again through their collective actions squashed the virus. The systems ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Clean energy upgrade for more public buildings
    More public buildings will be supported by the Government to upgrade to run on clean energy, the Minister for Climate Change James Shaw announced today. Minister Shaw announced that Lincoln and Auckland universities will receive support through the Clean-Powered Public Service Fund to replace fossil fuel boilers. Southern, Taranaki, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Schools back donations scheme for the second year
    More schools have opted in to the donations scheme for 2021, compared to 2020 when the scheme was introduced. “The families of more than 447,000 students will be better off next year, with 94% of eligible schools and kura opting into the scheme,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “This is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Ruapehu cycle trails gets PGF boost
    The spectacular Mountains to Sea cycle trail in Ruapehu District will receive $4.6 million in funding from the Provincial Growth Fund for two additional trails, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. “This is an exciting development for the local community, and one that will provide significant economic opportunities ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago