Happy families

Written By: - Date published: 6:11 pm, June 11th, 2008 - 48 comments
Categories: labour, Media, spin - Tags: ,

The New Zealand Herald’s latest anti-Labour beatup took an unfortunate twist this afternoon. Having spent the best part of a day making hay over Labour being caught, er, using stock photography in a flyer, the Herald was over the moon to discover the offending image had also been used by Kevin Rudd’s Australian Labor Party to promote its housing policy:

Labour’s Kiwi happy family photo, which this morning turned out to actually be American, can now be revealed to have already been used by the Australian government to portray fair dinkum Aussies.

Funny thing is, while the Herald has tried to turn the NZLP’s use of stock photography into a full-blown scandal with front page treatment, not a single Australian media outlet has considered the ALP doing exactly the same thing to be worthy of coverage.

Could it be that the New Zealand Herald is letting its pro-National bias get in the way of its editorial judgement?

48 comments on “Happy families”

  1. TV1 just gave it a good nudge as well.

  2. Tane 2

    Bill, I didn’t argue that a story pushed hard by the country’s largest daily won’t get coverage elsewhere in the NZ media. Once something’s on the front page of the Herald it’s hard for other media to ignore it.

    I just find it interesting that the NZ Herald wets its pants over Labour using stock photography, while the Australian media couldn’t care less when the exact same thing happens over there.

  3. Labour is so bereft of ideas it has imported Labor ideas from Australia, not only that they couldn’t scare up even one happy NZ family to grace their state funded election ad.

    ha captcha the illusion (how does it know?)

  4. And so have 3.
    Yet again you fail to see the ickyness of ;
    1. Labour using public funds to pump themselves up
    2. Making a stupid pr mistake by using a non kiwi family.
    3. (And my favourite) The PM doing her usual arrogant “nothing to see here, don’t bother me with such trivial nonsense” schtick, accompanied with that little snort that we have all come to love.

    Not much of an issue really, just another episode in what has become a daily display of fumbling from somebody who used to be the tightest and most astute political manager in this country.

  5. Lew 5


    1. Not the case, unless you think all government documents should have images chosen for them by the opposition.
    2. Not a stupid PR mistake, but common practice, though I would like to have seen an identifiably NZ image.
    3. This response is entirely legitimate, and the snort is more deserved than usual.

    As I commented on another thread: “I bet you’d be decrying the expense if, instead of using a $20 stock image, they paid a photographer and models several thousand dollars for an original. I think they should have. But I don’t think you think they should have.”

    Well, do you think they should have? Upon what basis would you justify spending thousands when $20 would do?


  6. Principessa 6

    Get National to look the camera in the eye and tell us they’ve never ever ever used stock photography.

  7. Lew…it isn’t a government document it is a Labour Party election advertisement. It is in Labour colours, covered with Labour images/logos including the one purporting to be Helen Clark and it is authorised by Mike Smith the Labour Party General Secretary.

    There is actually no way that this can be seen as anything other than a Labour party advertisement paid for by the taxpayer.

  8. Lew, whilst I am able to muster up a smidgeon of sympathy for the fact that labour are as close to bankrupt as you can get. I am gobsmacked the single biggest issue to cause their avalanche like drop in popularity has taught them nothing.
    They are still spending public money on pimping themselves.
    They just seem completely unaware of how bad it looks to keep raiding the public purse.
    Healthy democracy needs a strong opposition, it will come as no surprise that I am not particularly fond of labour, but I do not want to see them so weakened that national can enjoy unbridled power post November

  9. Hello Cameron – I see you’ve finally worked up the guts to comment here again. Tell me mate, just while you’re here. Was it your dad that paid your creditors to get you out of strife?

  10. Lew 10

    BB, Whaleoil: Oh, right you are, a `Labour party Budget pamphlet’, says the Herald. But I note that neither of you have actually answered my question.


  11. Disengaged 11

    Is there no stock photography of New Zealand families available? But yeah in this instance it does smack of a media beat up.

    So long as Labour are counting it against its election expenses then it is a non-issue really.

  12. gobsmacked 12

    TV3 actually pointed out that Labour were saving time and money. As they should.

    The Herald is campaigning to get Labour out. They are entitled to do it, and the rest of us are entitled to see their laughable stories for what they are: propaganda.

    So how could Labour have kept the Herald happy? Let’s see …

    Alternative headlines we might have had (but no doubt ready on file at the Herald):

    “We don’t vote Labour, say leaflet’s Kiwi family”

    OK, so gotta get some loyal Labour people in the photo. Oh, hang on:

    “So-called typical family are hand-picked Labour stooges”

    OK, that’s no good. So just an ordinary apolitical family then. What could possibly go wrong?

    “Man in photo doesn’t recycle: neighbours reveal all!”

    “Woman in photo pissed at party: we have the mobile phone pix!”

    “Labour’s cute child steals classmate’s lollies: Herald Exclusive!”

    And so on.

    Right, so we just need to find a perfect New Zealand family, who live life without fault, and so eliminate all possible risk. That will keep the Herald quiet. Phew.

    Unless …

    “Labour wastes time and money on search for flawless family! Bill English demands answers in House!”

    Or there’s Plan B: Get a life, focus on what matters, and ignore the f**king Herald? Yep, sounds good to me.

  13. I guess this is just Labour reaping more of what it has sown with the EFA.

  14. So long as Labour are counting it against its election expenses then it is a non-issue really.

    I guess that the fact they have authorised it means they will. Audrey is really losing the plot over this EFA stuff. It’s a shame really – she used to be a pretty credible journo…

    Oh and Lew? don’t even try to engage with the man-child and his strange little flunky. They tend to do drive-by trolling and then run away and hide.

    Edit: Bryan you are a retard.

  15. Adolf Fiinkensein 15

    A fuck up a day, keeps the voters away.

  16. Robinsod, no it was me. End of story…barking mad up the wrong tree again.

  17. MacDoctor 17

    Lew, Disengaged.

    Photo New Zealand (www.photonewzealand.co.nz) have plenty of New Zealand family stock photos. Whereas it would have cost a lot more (up to $1000), the photos are rights managed, which means you would not see the photo anywhere else (iStockPhoto is very cheap but anyone can buy the image – hence the same image appearing in Australia).

  18. deemac 18

    bugger, I booked my holiday on the strength of the photo of the hot couple in beach togs on the brochure – now you tell me they won’t be there when I arrive?
    perhaps Nats think voters are so dim they believe glossy photos in publicity material show “real” people??

  19. Rex Widerstrom 19

    Yes as MacDoctor says, no professional outfit would use istockphoto because the image could just as easily end up on your opponent’s advertising!

    Odd that no one here sees a comparison to National’s “Coldplay” fiasco.

    I believed them when they said their agency make a cock-up, and I believe in this case Labour’s agency has made a similar cock-up.

    However the difference is that this particular bunch of amateurs were paid for out of the public purse.

    If the Herald wanted a story, I’d suggest they ask why the government employs a bunch of rank amateurs to produce taxpayer-funded material. And while it’s National’s business who they hire, why they also couldn’t seem to find an agency that knew it’s job.

    Is NZ bereft of good advertising / PR people? Or are only certain agencies ever considered for the work. And if so, why?

  20. gobsmacked 20


    How could Labour find out if the NZ family in a stock photo was guaranteed non-controversial? Hire private investigators?

    Look at the Herald’s breathless tone (“can now be revealed”). This story was the LEAD on their website for a while today. It tied up at least two reporters (according to the by-lines). If that is where they choose to direct their resources, should political parties do likewise, just to stave off any potential jibes?

    It’s a joke. The only bigger joke is the people getting excited by it.

  21. gobsmacked 21

    Rex. The Coldplay tune was used deliberately, by request, without permission. The DVD was therefore withdrawn. In the case of the leaflet, there is no legal problem whatsoever. A very different case.

  22. oldhippy 22

    Colin Espiner gets it right:

    But as a politics watcher it intrigues me because it tells me that Labour is no longer looking after the basics. It’s politics 101 to double-check pictures and artwork and testimonials used in political advertising. All political parties have (or should have) fixers whose job it is to make sure that, if a family picture is used in adverts, they are A: New Zealanders B: supporters of the policy being advertised, and C: not convicted criminals or child molesterers.

    National tripped up with its DVD on John Key: Ambitious for New Zealand when it used music that sounded like Coldplay without permission. But this mistake is even more basic. It beggars belief that no-one in Clark’s office thought to ask where the photograph came from.

  23. mike 23

    “Could it be that the New Zealand Herald is letting its pro-National bias get in the way of its editorial judgement?”

    Tane, no it’s more likley they sense the mood of the nation and know they are on a winner as people are sick to death of Labour. Aussie’s were sick of Howard but not to the same extent.

  24. Robinsod, no it was me. End of story barking mad up the wrong tree again.

    Nobody is going to believe a fool like you could pay that kind of money back. I’m thinking it was Juana’s folks and they made sure you didn’t have any more say in her business affairs as part of the deal. I’m picking that’s why your resigned as a director in the property company… Of course I could be wrong. Why don’t you fill in the blanks.

    Oh and Rex? Johnny boy stole the coldplay song. At the time I don’t recall the herald putting two journos on it at carrying it on their website’s front page all day…

  25. Daveski 25

    I’m not up with the play … can’t be Buy NZ Made week/day any more can it?

    Colin E via Old hippy has got it spot on.

    You guys need to stop trying to defend the indefensible. It’s not a good look period. Sure, it’s not going to lose the election on its own but it’s symptematic of a Govt losing touch with the basics of government and politics.

  26. gobsmacked 26


    Don’t be sheep. Tell us what should have been done differently, and how much time and money should have been spent. Don’t hide behind “not a good look”. That just means – “the Herald decides these things for me.”

    Seriously, what course of action would have guaranteed NO story? Full background checks on every person in every photo?

  27. “You guys need to stop trying to defend the indefensible.”

    Put down the crack pipe you reet, its a bloody photo FFS. No one gives a shit what the hell it is representive of in any national party lackys fantasy world.

  28. higherstandard 28

    I’m not usually given to expletives but honestly who really gives a f@@k as long as it’s declared in their election spend what’s the issue ?

  29. Perhaps not spending public money on promoting themselves?
    They seem incapable of understanding how inappropriate and down right risky it is after the fuss over the efa, we can only surmise that they have no money of their own to spend.
    Alternatively a brochure with a title like this;
    Taxpayers voting for labour is like chickens voting for colonel sanders.

  30. oldhippy 30

    gobsmacked, last time I looked Colin Espiner worked for the Press, not the Herald, and he’s commenting on an NZPA story. He answers your question, listing the basic steps any political party would normally take when using an image like this, down to checking for “child molesterers” [sic].

  31. gobsmacked 31

    So, oldhippy, you’re saying that Labour should have spent far more time and money on a photograph, including a full background check. Which still wouldn’t eliminate risk (see 7.19 above).

    How would that use of time and money provide better government for New Zealand?

  32. oldhippy 32

    gobsmacked, very little of the millions and millions of dollars that will be spent in this election campaign will have anything to do with providing a better government for New Zealand. It is modern politics, all about image and perception.

  33. Sceptic 33

    the issue here is simple. Last time Labour used tax payer money to fund a pledge card. This was ruled illegal. Labour passed legislation to get rid of the illegality.

    Helen Clark said last year that there would be no further pledge cards – I think many people probably took this a little wider and thought that Labour would not spend taxpayer money on advertisements that are so obviously about shoring up support for Labour (its red, its got their achievements all over it, Helen Clark’s picture, her signature like the pledge card, it has their logo on it).

    The american photo is a sideshow – a silly botch up by her office – the real issue is that once again Labour are using everyones money to put across messages that aren’t just about “here are some services that are useful to you” but instead are about “here are the services and aren’t we so great for giving these, so remember Helen Clark, remember the colour red and remember the Labour logo come election time).

  34. randal 34


  35. Is there actually a REAL happy family in New Zealand?
    Other than parasitic over paid meaningless public servants sucking the coffers dry !!!
    Millions of dollars wasted on Absolute Power, while the family deteriorates rapidly. How could it get so bad for the kiwi family?

  36. Daveski 36


    It’s quite simple really. Surely political instincts would be screwed up to maximum? Surely Labour strategists would have thought that EVERY advertisement by EVERY party will be micro-analysed? Surely someone would have said – hold on, better use a NZ photo?

    My comment about the indefensible was mainly directed at the EFA.

    Take it as a compliment. Labour has been smart, smooth, sophisticated and calculated. Nothing negative in that – I just happen to disagree with their policies.

    Right now, they look desperate and frankly amateurish. I’ll sit back and wait for the blind defense.

    It’s the media’s fault.

    John Key is buying the election.

    The Brethren are behind it all.

    Time to face reality.

  37. ‘Sod you can guess all you like, I don’t do lies. So shove your speculation up the proverbial.

    Just keep making sh*t up, it seems to suit you.

  38. ak 38

    Far be it from me to suggest how you might organise your forum, but might it not be time to consider a ban on certain commenters who contribute nothing but semi-literate abuse and grotesque manifestations of their own insecurites? (Contrast this thread with the discussion of Robinsod’s impressive analysis: quite frankly, I feel rather uncomfortable even appearing on the same page as a creature that would stoop to pasting our PM’s face onto pornography and whose every utterance is so drenched in banal and mordant loathing as to be almost a parody of unadulterated evil)

  39. Tane 39

    Yeah, fair point ak, I was about to say the same thing myself. Sod, Whale, moderate yourselves or I’ll have to do it myself.

  40. r0b 40

    Good to see The Herald really on the ball with this one. Meanwhile, in other news…

    In America a Senate committee report endorsed by Democrats and some Republicans concluded that Bush lied in making his case for war in Iraq (a war in which over a million Iraqis and over 4000 Americans have so far died). Evidence of massive war profiteering was uncovered, and US congressman has moved to impeach Bush.

    About 26,000 young people died, mainly from preventable causes.

    The Phoenix Lander on Mars began taking soil samples.

    Wars continued in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, and other places.

    Israeli minister Shaul Mofaz threatened an attack on Iran’s nuclear program.

    A few other things happened too.

    In other news.

  41. Rex Widerstrom 41

    Robinsod suggests:

    Johnny boy stole the coldplay song.

    Do you really think John Key sat there going through his CD collection till he found a song he liked, then personally contacted a musician and asked him or her to rip it off?

    That’s about as believeable as Helen Clark browsing istockphoto and saying “I like that pic, let’s use that one”.

    Try taking off the blinkers, sod. In both cases it’s a SNAFU by contractors who should have known better than to let their respective clients end up with egg on visage.

    So I ask again… why are these people used? Doesn’t NZ have any better? (That’s a rhetorical question, really, because I know they do).

    At the time I don’t recall the herald putting two journos on it at carrying it on their website’s front page all day

    I’ll take your word for it, I don’t remember. I agree this story is an absolute beat-up, but I didn’t touch on that point originally. The Herald’s spending it’s own money. I want to know why the government hired unprofessional idiots when, for the same money, they could have had professionals.

  42. serone 42

    You need to do your homework, Rex. There are several threads on this blog, not to mention the rest of the net, that relate the Clocks rip-off in detail.

    John Key did indeed personally choose Clocks (“a song he liked”, as you put it) for his conference entrance music, and so it was used (legally). The DVD debacle arose from that.

  43. Doug 43

    The New Zealand Herald’s latest anti-Labour beatup took an unfortunate twist today.


  44. leftrightout 44

    Did anyone see this comment on one Audreys article “If Federated Farmers is the National Party in gumboots, is the New Zealand Herald the National Party in print?”. Perfect.

  45. “Could it be…..?”

    Walks like a duck. Quacks like a duck. Looks like a duck.

    Sometimes you just have to go with the evidence.

    While favouring National for the election, the Herald doesn’t much like Gerry Brownlee, judging from yesterday’s editorial about the power supply.

    I suppose, with care, it is possible to distinguish between the two…though party hacks like Tony Ryall make sensational, evidence-free partisanship seem more like a party trait than a personal foible.

  46. NX 46

    not a single Australian media outlet has considered the ALP doing exactly the same thing to be worthy of coverage.



    Kevin Rudd shows our PM how it’s done with a gracious, apologetic response.

    ^Any of you Standard folk who are still puzzled why the ungrateful NZ public want to boot Clark out just need to contrast her to Kevin Rudd.

  47. Tane 47

    At the time of writing that was true. But I see from your link that one outlet has finally caught up with an article today, most likely after seeing the Herald’s big splash.

    Question though, where is this article? I’m looking at news.com.au’s website and it doesn’t even seem to be on the front page. So was this news story worthy of such great attention from the NZ Herald? Apparently not.

  48. NX 48

    So was this news story worthy of such great attention from the NZ Herald?

    It was worthy enough for not only the Prime Minister of Australia to comment but to apologise.

    The best our PM could muster was ‘storm in a teacup’ patronising crap.

    Would it hurt Helen to show some humility once and a while.

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