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I See Red

Written By: - Date published: 7:40 am, March 7th, 2011 - 62 comments
Categories: brand key, cost of living, disaster, john key - Tags: ,

The government has a fair bit on its plate right now. There’s the aftermath of the Christchurch quake and planning for the recovery. I think we all know about that. There’s also the hammering that ordinary folk are getting from the cost of living. I think most of us know about that one too:

Inflated to bursting point

If you’ve begun to dread your weekly or fortnightly supermarket shop, trawling the aisles, shopping list in hand, your heart sinking at what seem to be relentlessly rising prices, you are not alone. Inflation in New Zealand nudged 4 per cent in the October-to-December quarter – the second-highest level in the past 20 years. And since then it’s got worse.

A Herald on Sunday investigation shows consumer prices have jumped further since the most recent official statistics were published in January.

We checked with hundreds of retailers around the country to measure the average price of 70 basic household items from the Consumer Price and Food Price indices. We found that their average cost has risen more than 5 per cent over the past 12 months. Items like beer, cigarettes, petrol and diesel have gone up 10 per cent or more just in the first months of this year; the prices of some fresh produce, like potatoes, carrots and butter, have risen as much as 50 per cent in the past 12 months.

This won’t surprise economists in their glass and concrete tower blocks on The Terrace in Wellington. The Treasury has predicted the Consumer Price Index (CPI) will rise 4.5 per cent in the year to March, and 5 per cent in the year to June. …

Paul Keane, of retail consultants RCG in Parnell, says that in the 1980s people had secure jobs and their wages were rising. Today the economy is stagnant and inflation is increasingly rampant. … Today, a growing number of households are finding it increasingly tough to balance their weekly budget. And this is without factoring in the as-yet unknown economic impact of last week’s Christchurch earthquake. …

Shamubeel Eaqub, principal economist with the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, says New Zealand’s expected financial recovery has been “deferred”. Growth projections have been revised down from around 2.3 per cent to 0.3 per cent. “There are three separate issues here,” he explains. “The earthquake, and spikes in both food and fuel prices.

That’s a pretty full ticket, don’t you think? So its reassuring to know that the PM’s office has its eye on the ball. It’s all over the important issues:

PM’s office complains after photo digitally altered

The Prime Minister’s office has complained to a leading women’s magazine after it digitally altered a picture of John and Bronagh Key for its earthquake edition.

Woman’s Day did a photo shoot with the couple for its Valentine’s Day edition last month, in which Bronagh Key was wearing a silky peacock-blue Helen Cherry top.

Last week, it ran a front-page story headlined “John Key’s message of hope”, with a photo of the couple … but with the colour of Bronagh Key’s top miraculously changed to red.

The Prime Minister’s office would say little on the matter. “We are totally immersed in our response to the tragedy that is the Christchurch earthquake,” a spokeswoman said. “Any issues that we may have had with this publication have been taken up directly with them. We will not be commenting further.”

Not so “totally immersed” that you couldn’t take time out to complain about this piece of total nonsense though were you. Not so “totally immersed” that protecting Brand Key from any possible taint of red made it to the top of your “to do” list. When I think of all the other things that the office of the PM might be concentrating on right now, well…

All of my posts for March will finish with this note. While life goes on as usual outside Christchurch, let our thoughts be with those who are coping with the aftermath, with the sorrow of so many who were lost, and with the challenges ahead.

62 comments on “I See Red ”

  1. Herodotus 1

    ROB (I presume perhaps wrongly that yo are the same r0b?) We al know of these cost of living increases. yet petrol and cheese is less than it was in 07. So Lab had a go and now Nat neither to me have any idea of what is really happening to the little people outside the beltway.
    So what is a way forward? Wany of the price increases are international, so we cannot (bar the 2.2% increase blame internal causes) It is our inability to earn or more to the point our governments inability to grow NZ. And before any comments on what Lab did on govt; we had the slide down the OEC scale and very little in the way of real substainable growth, it was all on consumerism, our ability to incur debt, immigration and housing.
    Nice comment at the end in the small font- at least as an outcome from Chch we have displayed our more caring side. Irrespective of anything else we all still care for each other 😉

  2. The Economic Illiteracy Support Group 2

    This whole idea that “there’s nothing the government can do, it’s all the international market prices …” seems like fatalistic nonsense to me. Here’s a good example from the UK of a (right wing) government taking proactive steps to address rising oil prices:

    Ministers will be ordered to adopt urgent measures to wean the country off oil, amid rising concern that the Libya crisis has left the economy exposed to a dramatic rise in fuel prices.

    With fears growing that the cost of petrol could hit £2 a litre if instability in the Middle East persists and deepens, every government department will be told this week to comply with a new national “carbon plan” aimed specifically at “getting off the oil hook”.

    The energy secretary, Chris Huhne, told the Observer that the UK had no option but to speed up efforts to move away from oil. “Getting off the oil hook is made all the more urgent by the crisis in the Middle East. We cannot afford to go on relying on such a volatile source of energy when we can have clean, green and secure energy from low-carbon sources,” he said. “The carbon plan is about ensuring that the whole of government is engaged in a joined-up effort to lead us into a low-carbon world.”

    Compare and contrast with the National government, who are intent on building more roads, running down the rail system and selling off the power companies. It’s not that “nothing can be done” – it’s that National are too incompetent to do it.

    • Herodotus 2.1

      I would prefer that “nothing can be done” then at least we would all keep 100% of a few power generating coys.
      Funny thing re roads many are a continuation of previous govts policies, the only difference is that roads have a greater importance to nat in what they think is a soln to the answer.
      TEISG- no current political thinking by the big 2 in NZ display and compreshion of the isses let alone solutions. Living stds are under great presure within NZ.
      I recall as a wee child in NZ being told that NZ was safe and secure why? Becasue we grew food and had cheap renewable Hydro schemes. Yes nothing has changed except the “WE” dont how ownership or control of these resources and globalisation was not heard of then. Now we must do our utmost not to offend the offshore money providers unless they get scared and take all their $$ somewhere else. We have had who controls our destiny (and no I am not referring to Tamaki and his wee band !! 😉 ) usurped without knowing who, when or how this has happened.

      • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1

        We do know the who, when and even the how. THe governments in association with the Business Round Table over the last 30 years and by legislation designed to give our sovereignty to outside owners.

      • bbfloyd 2.1.2

        H… you need to remember to let the blood circulate through that thing before you put words to print. it might help you to make some sense (hopefully). or at least it might be easier for you to understand the realities of having to undertake massive roading projects simply because the last administration allowed them to be starved of funds for long enough to create a need for urgent remedial work.

        i would say that it was never labour policy to spend billions of dollars on roading as part of their economic strategy. that was simply another necessary part of cleaning up the mess national left nz in. (even you should understand that) labours true policies, once the remedial work had been largely dealt with was shown clearly when they bought back a rail system that national had made a serious effort to make utterly irrelevant. (stupid, stupid people).

        i’d like to see you attempt to defend that particular piece of asset stripping. it would be no surprise to me if you were to attempt to spin that(asset stripping) as a sensible economic decision that has benifited nz as well.

  3. Galeandra 3

    “When I think of all the other things that the office of the PM might be concentrating on right now, well…” A fair point.especially in light of TEIGS’s comment about the urgent need regarding “getting off the oil hook..”

    The post’s reference to Women’s Weekly is hardly frivolous either. That may indicate the level of Key’s personal reading. After listening to his halting and wooden delivery of scripted speeches over recent weeks, I have a feeling that he is, in fact, a very poor reader. I suspect that most of his learning/thinking operates around bullet points. The same could be said for a number of others in his cabinet.
    In itself this would be of no great significance provided there were teams of advisors and specialists to ensure that wider (and wiser?) views were taken. In the modern world of constricting options and last opportunities to get things right, ie to find a path to future security, I fear we are hamstrung. The worst possible leadership for the worst of times.

    • M 3.1

      ‘That may indicate the level of Key’s personal reading.’

      LOL, I wouldn’t even rate it that elevated – the comic book for Key surely.

  4. There’s also the hammering that ordinary folk are getting from the cost of living.

    Oh, come now – DPF shows that if you carefully choose the right stats you can make it sound like wages have actually gone up heaps since National came in while food prices have hardly risen at all. So, no need for the govt to be focused about that problem, because it simply doesn’t exist. With creative solutions like this to the nation’s difficulties, we can be assured our future is in good hands.

    • lprent 4.1

      Yeah that is particularly creative number crunching. Of course that type of disjunction between what is said by spokesmen of the government and reality is likely to lead to people wandering around in a Kafka delirium and doing such anti-social things as protesting. Of course they have to be restrained from such anti-social habits for their own protection. Now we know what all of the new prisons and double bunking is for.

      Damn I seem to remember some books describing this type of scenario of a desperate government. Smiths Dream starts out like this..

  5. Zaphod Beeblebrox 5

    There are some things you can do. We could for example do something to reduce our consumption of oil= like stop building useless motorways or use the tax system to encourage alternative energy. Given what is going on in Libya and Iran at the moment why wouldn’t you.

  6. tsmithfield 6

    “Not so “totally immersed” that you couldn’t take time out to complain about this piece of total nonsense though were you. Not so “totally immersed” that protecting Brand Key from any possible taint of red made it to the top of your “to do” list.”

    This is a storm in a tea-cup. How long does it take to whip off an e-mail complaining about the issue? And why shouldn’t the PM have the same right as any other citizen to be accurately represented? You must admit it is fairly tacky for Magazines to go and alter details such as this without getting the consent of the people in the photograph.

    • vto 6.1

      “fairly tacky for Magazines to go and alter details such as this without getting the consent of the people in the photograph.”

      Similarly tsmithfield it is significantly more than tacky for Key to go and alter democracy in Canterbury with getting the consent of the people in Canterbury.

      Karma is a funny thing, not yet fully played out with Key and cohorts.

    • Colonial Viper 6.2

      PM and his office have more important things to get on with than arguing with Woman’s Day about trivia.

      • tsmithfield 6.2.1

        vto “Similarly tsmithfield it is significantly more than tacky for Key to go and alter democracy in Canterbury with getting the consent of the people in Canterbury.”

        Even if I agreed with you about democracy in Canterbury, I thought that two wrongs didn’t make a right.

        CV “PM and his office have more important things to get on with than arguing with Woman’s Day about trivia.”

        Agreed if it was going to involve a public inquiry or something. Disagree if it involves flicking off an e-mail of complaint. There is the principle that media organisations should be held to account for misrepresenting people, because if they are allowed to get away with it they will keep on doing it. Next time it might be with someone from your side of the fence.

        I imagine the howls of outrage on this site if it had happened to Helen Clark while she was PM.

        • r0b

          Yes – you do imagine them. HC wasn’t afraid of the colour blue. Imagine that.

          • Peter Rabbit

            R0b is there a similar picture of when HC was Prime Minister, and leader of the Labour/Red Party?

            Also how do you think HC would have responded if a magazine had edited a picture of her/or her husband so they were wearing a large item of clothing in National’s colours?

            • r0b

              Check the link again PR.

              • Peter Rabbit

                Thanks Rob.

                Though did you update the link? Or did something funny happen (when I originally clicked on it I went to a picture her at a UN speech)?

              • Alwyn

                Thats not a picture of Helen Clark.
                I’ve still got my precious religious relic of a Labour party pledge card of 2005.
                The person in the photo you’ve linked to doesn’t look a bit like the photo of Helen Clark that was on the pledge card.
                Yo have clearly been taken in by a forgery.

            • Cnr Joe

              Peter Rabbit – blue is Black Powers colours.

              • Peter Rabbit

                And Red are the Mighty Mighty Mongrel Mob’s gang colours.

                However I wasn’t actually referring to gang colours but rather the colours our two main political parties choose to associate themselves with, but I think you already knew that.

          • Lanthanide

            Lol, very salient and understated 🙂

          • tsmithfield

            If she had chosen to wear red and some smart-arse editor photoshopped it to blue, I am sure sure she would have had a blast a the editor. Remember, she was the queen of control. 🙂

            • The Voice of Reason

              Bullshit, TS. Helen wasn’t the ‘Queen’ of anything, she just did the job she was elected to in a dedicated and responsible manner and took pride in doing the job well. It wasn’t just a retirement hobby or an ego massage for her, she actually wanted to do the work not just hold the title.

              If you’ll recall, the print media in particular went out of their way to use unflattering photos of HC whenever they could. Remember the Dom Post shot of her and her partrner outside Parliament? Pure filth. And as you well know, that was just amateur hour compared to what your employers have been slinging at her in the last few years.

          • ianmac

            It all seems strange about red and blue. In the USA the Democrats are Blue and the Republicans are Red. (And up until the end of the 19th Century boys wore pink and girls wore blue.)

        • Colonial Viper

          Flicking an email off in complaint? So easy huh? Oh, you mean that once alerted:

          1- a PM staffer did not have to find the original photo in the original issue?
          2- And then compare it to the photoshopped one in the new issue?
          3- And then decide that they were originally the same picture?
          4- And then double check with John Key that he hadn’t done a new photoshoot? (And he checking with Bling Bling in return that she owned no such top)
          5- And then staffer(s) deciding the most appropriate way to raise the concern with Women’s Day?
          6- Flick off the email to Womens Day (NOTE THIS IS THE ONE STEP YOU KEEP REFERRING TO)
          7 – And then consider the response back from Women’s day?
          8 – And then formulate the PM’s media position on the issue?
          9 – And then take a media position on the issue?

          Wow that was quick and easy eh.

          • Peter Rabbit

            And completely appropriate in protecting for the Prime Minister’s Political Image which unfortunately is park in parcel of modern politics (for all parties).

            • Lanthanide

              I have no problem if the PM wants to wear blue himself. I’m sure that Bing Bing’s choice of blue wasn’t entirely her own, though.

            • Colonial Viper

              So you’re defending that the PM’s office spent time on this last week? You know, with the Christchurch earthquake and all?

              • Peter Rabbit

                As the below commentator points out the list of tasks is about 30 minutes work for an staffer to complete with perhaps 5-10 minutes involved of the PM’s time. I am happy for any Prime Minister (Left/Right) to spend 10 minutes of their time protecting their political image though I suspect that short of resigning no matter what John Key did you would find fault with.

            • Kevin Welsh

              PR, the expression is part and parcel.

          • tsmithfield

            CV “Wow that was quick and easy eh.”

            Yes. A long list doesn’t mean a long time. All that could probably be done in half an hour.

            • Armchair Critic

              You’re an HR professional of some sort, aren’t you, ts?
              If so, you’re the first HR professional I’ve ever come across that has said it’s okay to waste half an hour on trivia like this.

              • tsmithfield

                So, you don’t see any point in holding the media to account to ensure fair and accurate reporting?

                • Pascal's bookie

                  You choose your media chanel, you takes your risk.

                  He chose to go to Woman’s Day. Their methods are well enough known. They aint the New York times, and nor should they be.

                  He can then choose to have a cry about them doing what they do, and that’s fair enough. It’s also fair enough for his opponents to make hay from it.

                  He chose to go and do interviews and shoots with Woman’s Day.

                  He didn’t do so because thay are hard hitting objective balls to the grinder news hounds. He did it to hit a demographic politically.

                  All in the game yo.

                  • tsmithfield

                    “He can then choose to have a cry about them doing what they do, and thats fair enough…”

                    In other words, he can insist that they accurately represent his wife in photographs. Glad you agree that its fair enough that he does that.

                    • Lanthanide

                      See 6.4 below. If they didn’t want the photos altered, they should have specified in in the contract. Obviously they didn’t specify it in the contract, so that’s their loss.

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      ‘insist’? lulz.

                      Insisting would be even more pathetic. What’s he gonna do? Stamp his widdle feet? Demand that Woman’s Day return all it’s Pullitzer prizes?

                    • Jim MacDonald

                      When Key has been putting entertainment ahead of government, this is all just a bit of karma returning in kind.
                      Key should just try harder to stop being the King of Waste-of-Time.

                • Armchair Critic

                  It’s nothing to do with fair and accurate reporting. It’s to do with wasting time on trivia. Your silence speaks volumes.
                  That wasn’t even a good attempt at a distraction.

                  • tsmithfield

                    “Your silence speaks volumes.”

                    Patience Kimosabe. Some of us have more to do than spending all our day on “the standard”.

                    “It’s nothing to do with fair and accurate reporting.”

                    It obviously is about fair and accurate reporting. Because if the PM thought it was fair and accurate, he wouldn’t be complaining about it, would he?

                    Again, I ask both you and PB, do you support holding the media to account to be fair and accurate?

                    “That wasn’t even a good attempt at a distraction.”

                    Distraction from what? The issue was raised in the article above, so its all good for discussion.

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      The PM is complaining because it’s about ‘brand management’.

                      These mags run to a format. Running an image that they only ran the month before would look stale. Easiest fix is to change a big block of colour. Pallette is limited, has to be bright etc. Key’s office could have provided another picture for them to use. This sort of thing is the risk you take when you go with these mags.

                      They aint hard news; they don’t pretend to be, that’s why he went with them in the first place; complaining about it now is just baby stuff.


                      He chose to go to Woman’s Day. Their methods are well enough known. They aint the New York times, and nor should they be.

                      He can then choose to have a cry about them doing what they do, and that’s fair enough. It’s also fair enough for his opponents to make hay from it.

                      He chose to go and do interviews and shoots with Woman’s Day.

                      He didn’t do so because thay are hard hitting objective balls to the grinder news hounds. He did it to hit a demographic politically.

                    • tsmithfield

                      “These mags run to a format. Running an image that they only ran the month before would look stale. Easiest fix is to change a big block of colour.”

                      I understand this. However, there are lots of colours out there other than red. The editor should have been aware of the political implications, and at least run it past the PM before publishing.

                      “He chose to go to Woman’s Day. Their methods are well enough known. They aint the New York times, and nor should they be.”

                      Perhaps they approached him for an interview? Anyway, despite all this, that doesn’t absolve them from the responsibility to be fair and accurate.

                    • Armchair Critic

                      So far all I’ve got from you is that changing the colour of a top is important, but spending half an hour trying to solve the case of the incorrect colour is not important. That’s bullshit, in my book.
                      I’d love to live in a country where the most important issue of the day was a magazine changing the colour of the PM’s spouse’s top. And where the worst example of unfair and inaccurate reporting by the media was the aforementioned colour change. But that NZ today is not that country.
                      So, can we please have a PM that is more interested in running the country than the colour of his spouse’s top?

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      Not the editors job to ‘be aware of the political implications’. That would be the PM’s office. Or the Sov1et Union.

                      Doesn’t matter who approached who. He chose to do it, knowing what sort of media outlet they are (hint: not news)

    • Armchair Critic 6.3

      How long does it take to whip off an e-mail complaining about the issue?
      More time than it takes to think “it doesn’t really matter, there are much more important things to attend to at the moment?” and then carry on with the important stuff.

    • Lanthanide 6.4

      “You must admit it is fairly tacky for Magazines to go and alter details such as this without getting the consent of the people in the photograph.”

      They already have consent. When they took photos from the original photoshoot, John and Bing Bing would have signed over consent for the magazine to use the photos in anyway they saw fit, including digital manipulation (almost every photo in a woman’s mag is touched up in some way).

      Put it another way – will Key be:
      1. Happy that they put him on the magazine cover again, or
      2. Furious that they changed the colour of his wife’s top

      I think overall #1 will outweigh #2.

      • The Voice of Reason 6.4.1

        Actually, I think the response from National HQ has been pretty muted. Can you imagine Key’s outrage if they did it to someone he actually wanted to shag and not just his wife?

        BTW, the first time I was pissed off with the digital alteration of a photo was when druggies Lorraine and Aaron Cohen were repatiriated home from an Asian prison. Both had remarkably good teeth for junkies who’d just spent most of the last decade in a third world jail.

      • M 6.4.2

        I’m sure Bing Bing was happy to have the strain of being Key’s wife airbrushed from her face and should have relished being in red as it’s always far more noticeable than blue – maybe her revenge for Liz?

        • Lanthanide

          She looks much better in the red than she did in the blue, probably why they shopped it.

          • Rosy

            I’m certain they used red for Canterbury and probably thought on that basis that JK would approve of them doing so. Many people aren’t interested in politics as such, but are interested in Chch at the moment. He’s just turned a positive bit of spin into something negative.

  7. todd 7

    Did you say the 1000 new portaloos are blue? Send them back, we want red or green ones.

    • Bright Red 7.1

      I hear they have Key’s mug on the seat – can you make him even more full of shit?

      And picture on the inside of the door of Gerry Brownlee with the caption “Big Brother loves you, but fuck your old buildings”

  8. KINTO 8

    The right complaining about what color clothes people wear, must be an election year.

    I look forward to an in depth analysis of Duncan Garners tie choice’s over the lead up to the election.

    • The Voice of Reason 8.1

      Diaper brown, since you ask. It stops the dribble showing up on the telly.

  9. randal 9

    I see red when I hear from Sue Bradfiord on the wireless this morning that most of the members of the welfare working group are contractors to the government already for social services.
    is this true?
    why hasn’t this fact been aired much sooner.
    I mean leeches dont mind being leeches but hiding behind a nice title to skim the governments accounts for private profit is another matter altogether.

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      I mean leeches dont mind being leeches but hiding behind a nice title to skim the governments accounts for private profit is another matter altogether.

      Standard M.O. for this Tory outfit.

  10. Irascible 11

    The beat up over the Womans Day digital alteration of a designer top is on the level one expects from the Key mind. Has anyone noted the parallels between his rise and the plot line of the film: “Being There” which starred Peter Sellers as a thought absent individual – Chauncy Gardiner – who is taken as a political pundit because he can only echo the emptiness of TV channel babble.
    Key, like the Sellers character, makes great play that he doesn’t read but devotes his time dreaming of the “hotties” on “Sex in the City” and “Desperate Housewives.”

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