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Matthew Hooton and the Radio New Zealand post

Written By: - Date published: 9:29 am, May 15th, 2016 - 192 comments
Categories: broadcasting, john key, journalism, Media, national, radio - Tags: , , , ,

This tweet caused me some surprise when I first saw it.  I respect the quality of Radio New Zealand’s reporters and its commitment to the concept of quality journalism.  But I scratched my head when I saw this tweet because the conclusion seemed completely overblown and so un Radio New Zealand like.

What was really weird was that the post was written not by a staff member but by that well known commentator for the right Matthew Hooton.

I was astounded by this.  Isn’t Radio New Zealand meant to provide “innovative, comprehensive, and independent broadcasting services of a high standard”?  How could Hooton’s views be considered to be independent?

He does appear regularly on Monday’s nine to noon programme.  But there is balance.  Mike Williams or Stephen Mills appears to provide a left wing response.

This particular article looks like a cut and paste from the NBR.  Are we at the stage where state broadcasters feel obliged to mimic right wing pro business media outlets?

Hooton’s article was ideologically driven and contained clear bias.  And it was completely lacking in detail or analysis.  Stand by as Kiwiblog and Whaleoil leap onto it as vindication that Panama Papers has had no effect whatsoever on John Key or National.

What did he say?

  • There has been a massive decline in inequality since the 1980s.
  • The Panama Papers hacker has a vendetta against John Key.
  • The hacker Cook Islands are some sort of vassal state.
  • The Labour Party wanted to score some sort of “decisive hit” on National.

Of course this is nothing but spin.  Inequality may have improved in China because of the emergence of a middle class but in the rest of the world it is increasing.  New Zealand has significant influence over the Cook Islands.  And of course Labour should be talking about the Panama Papers because there is so much of concern.  To say that an issue should not be discussed because there is a political implication would suggest that nothing of concern would ever be discussed.

The post ignores some of the very troubling aspects that the release of the Panama Papers have highlighted.  Such as:

  • Why did Todd McClay’s office tell the IRD that he did not want removal of the Foreign Trust regime presented to him as an option?
  • Why did he visit Whitney’s firm for a cosy chat with Foreign Tax industry leaders so soon after being requested?
  • How did the OIO decide that couple of Argentinian businessmen who were criminally responsible for pouring carcinogenic material into a river buy a farm met the good character test?

The papers have caused the resignation of one Prime Minister and panicked the leaders of the world to meet urgently to discuss the issue of corruption.  Of course the media should talk about it and the opposition should question the Government’s handling of all of the issues.

The usual suspects although surprisingly including Chris Trotter have deemed this to be irrelevant.  That Key does not feature personally in the papers has led to all sorts of people saying “nothing to say here”.  Disappointedly Chris Trotter interprets the left’s handling of the issue as evidence of failure.  He seems relaxed about foreign trusts because there are plenty of local trusts.  But he completely ignores the fact that our tax system is being used to hide assets and avoid tax otherwise payable to foreign jurisdictions for negligible gain and at considerable risk to our reputation.  And the Government have known about it but refused to have done anything about it and have in fact facilitated and protected the growth of the industry involved.

But getting back to Hooton’s column why did Radio New Zealand agree to it being published?  Did the arrangement to report on the issue with Nicky Hager upset the right that much that they demanded a patsy piece in the interests of “balance”?

192 comments on “Matthew Hooton and the Radio New Zealand post ”

  1. Andrew R 1

    You managed to ignore the earlier Nine to Noon disclosure by Hooton that he had pr clients who were affected by Panama Papers.

    • greywarshark 1.1

      Andrew R
      Merely stating that there might be or is a bias, does not mean that person is then a satisfactory mouthpiece of comment that can be given a platform for whatever line or subject treatment that he or she wishes to present. Radio New Zealand is still our public New Zealand government no matter what the board thinks, is and we expect it to continue that way to standards of clear unbiased full information. Not partial, not skewed to show the most beneficial look for the powers that be whoever they are.

      Changing the name from Radio New Zealand to a group of alphabet letters that can be interpreted in many different ways is a warning sign of fiddly fingers playing round with the knobs and levers and a desire to change more and steer our public broadcaster into different and commercially conformist ways.

      • greywarshark 1.1.1

        Can’t add anything even though there was more than 3 minutes edit time.

        This is what I wanted to add.
        On the other hand I thought RadioNZ working with Nicky Hager and the Investigative Journalists was absolutely what we could hope for in producing and opening up the information of the Panama Papers. That must have caused the rather ‘diverted’ boys and girls in parliament and the elite cause to be most offended. Everyone who is important knows its going on, but you don’t tell the plebs!
        Good on RadioNZ.

      • Once was Tim 1.1.2

        “Changing the name from Radio New Zealand to a group of alphabet letters” …… etc.
        I’m surprised that this post shows surprise at Hoots submission.
        Whilst even Kim Hill had a ‘yeah nah meh’ attitude to the rebranding – if she’d thought through it all, she’d have realised it was the beginning of a gentle push to see how far they could go. RNZ rebranding passed with just a little wimper, next up Hoots. (If they truly understood PSB, they woudn’t be concerned about ‘branding’ for fckn starters! – OR even ratings or ‘target’ audiences or demographics)

        And next up. I expect to see all that previous kaka about how a population of ‘only’ 4.5 mill can’t afford PSB; how we shouldn’t be averse to ‘sponsorship’ of programming – Concert and website first of all; how we can’t afford children’s TV or a Youth radio network; etc., etc.

        • Steve Wirhers

          I have never bought the “we can’t afford it” line. If we can have a vanity flag referendum and pandas for Wellington Zoo, then we can have public broadcasting.

          I don’t think New Zealand can afford many more years of mismanagement and sabotage by National.

    • Paul 1.2

      And their names are?
      Full disclosure required by RNZ and Hooton.

    • billmurray 1.3

      Mathew Hooton’s piece at RNZ was not balance, it was a factual piece of writing.
      To New Zealand the Panama papers are “much ado about nothing”.
      That is also a “fact’.

  2. Paul 2

    The bias stems from a man called Griffin.

    • Mosa 2.1

      The last impartial media source left in right wing NZ has gone BLUE starved of oxygen scince 2008 and right wing sympathisers placed on its board and management have slowly destroyed its independence.
      One party state is that bit closer.

  3. FAB mouse 3

    The spin machine must be going full bore and costing someone lots of money.
    I wonder if the following similar is playing to a paying audience or was made to order.

  4. tc 4

    RNZ is no better than TVNZ when it comes down to it just a lot more subtle in its bias. The Nats have done a superb job of getting every SOE to march to their tune.

    Matty, farrar and others get a free run with the patsy lefties they have, specifically chosen to not rock the boat. Bomber ever been asked back ?

    Working as designed mickey.

    • Skinny 4.1

      Ryan allows Hooton’s mouth to gush out verbal dribble unchecked, which is a pity because the debate becomes a sideshow. You can hear her giggling sometimes which just spurs the RNZ village idiot on, unbelievable. His opposite should take a bag of peanuts and start throwing them in the air Hooton’s way, the chump will soon be distracted going chasing away from the mike.

      I haven’t been overly fussed tuning in for a long time. The problem we have is few media hacks are hungry enough to compile a story that cracks some badarse MP or Boss. Their more content on soft porn type coverage, have a little crack and then end on a happy note by allowing the offending snake to wriggle out of it.

      I do the odd number using the MSM media and it is head nodding ya got to script the whole plot for them, clueless age of media hacks we live in. There would be thousands of savvy young and old Kiwis that could do a far better job reporting, if they had the same access to the badarse using just a mobile phone and social media.

  5. Keith 5

    By spin I guess you mean lies, misleading is the same difference. And yes, Chris Trotter’s, colours have faded badly as the years pass owing to the era he was born into. Time has made him like one of those comfortable old fat cats lounging about the house shedding fur, coughing up fur balls and doing nothing useful.

    The Panama papers, who I would reckon few have read and definitely not all of them, simply reinforced the rot that is setting into the western world and the lengths the wealthy and their very close cousins, the criminal class go to, to avoid contributing to civilised society and just how warped things are really getting. They unmasked Keys subtle work that has turned us into a tax haven and probably embarrassed us more with some of our bigger trading partners than they let on. And course who really can take taxation seriously when the PM is out to encourage the rich to avoid tax? Will Key care, only if it ruins his tax haven, will National do anything about it, probably not, but it doesn’t exactly cleanse the growing film of filth covering the National Party in all walks of life. It was only a couple of weeks before that a $101,000 donations to them and getting a lucrative tax payer contract all in the same month surfaced, although this is just a big ol’ coincidence apparently!

    The game plan is clearly set, to circle the wagons, get Rodney Hide, Hosking, Hooton, et al to sing from the same song sheet and say nothing to see here, all a big back fire etc, etc. Thing is its none too convincing especially as its from Nationals bum boys.

    • Chuck 5.1

      The opposition, Labour in particular could do far worse than listen to Chris Trotter’s advice.

      The Panama papers are a flop…in the way Labour and to a lesser extent the Greens had hoped for.

      “It was only a couple of weeks before that a $101,000 donations to them and getting a lucrative tax payer contract”

      Which mid this week Andrew Little needs to either apologize to the Hagamans or defend himself in court over his very unwise “stunk to high heaven comment”.

    • John shears 5.2


  6. Anne 6

    But getting back to Hooton’s column why did Radio New Zealand agree to it being published? Did the arrangement to report on the issue with Nicky Hager upset the right that much that they demanded a patsy piece in the interests of “balance?

    I think that is exactly what happened. RNZ is reliant upon the government to provide the revenue that allows them to function and indeed expand into online tele-visual news coverage. I would not be surprised if some form of [covert] threat has been made since RNZ’s role in the Panama Papers revelations. There is likely to be more to come on this saga over coming weeks/months, and ‘recalcitrant’ government funded media outlets might find their budgets being further reduced if they don’t heed their ‘benefactors’ warnings.

    The above may sound rather dramatic, but it’s easy enough for a ministerial official to drop a few words into a pearl-like ear or two – all very friendly of course but the underlying intent is NOT so friendly. JK is a past master at it.

    … our tax system is being used to hide assets and avoid tax otherwise payable to foreign jurisdictions for negligible gain and at considerable risk to our reputation.

    That is the aspect the opposition parties should be concentrating on… not whether we’re a tax haven or not. That is just a side show and Key is winning the argument even though we know it’s true.

    • Rosemary McDonald 6.1

      “I think that is exactly what happened. RNZ is reliant upon the government to provide the revenue that allows them to function and indeed expand into online tele-visual news coverage. I would not be surprised if some form of [covert] threat has been made since RNZ’s role in the Panama Papers revelations. There is likely to be more to come on this saga over coming weeks/months, and ‘recalcitrant’ government funded media outlets might find their budgets being further reduced if they don’t heed their ‘benefactors’ warnings.

      The above may sound rather dramatic, ”

      No, not really.

      There used to be, deep in the bowels of the Beehive, a wee button that some minion used to press when they were told by the Watchdogs upstairs that Radio New Zealand was broadcasting material that could cause the listening masses disquiet.

      There would be dropped phone calls and strange studio failures…stuff we used to refer to as the “gremlins striking again” at Natrad. This is my theory….and I’m sticking to it.

      However…in these ‘alphabet’ days… they seem to have less need of the “button in the bowels of the Beehive.” There has been the odd interview (even with KR) where I’ve anticipated the the ‘button’, and nothing….broadcast uninterrupted.

      There is obviously some way, way better way of controlling what is broadcast or appears on their webpage.

      We all have to be a bit cleverer at sorting out the wheat from the chaff.

    • Chuck 6.2

      Anne I agree with you on your last paragraph…

      “That is the aspect the opposition parties should be concentrating on… not whether we’re a tax haven or not. That is just a side show and Key is winning the argument even though we know it’s true.”

      If for one moment Andrew Little took Trotters advice, and Little offered to work with Key to investigate and if required update / change the way NZ offers offshore trusts etc.

      Key could say no…which then gives the moral high ground to Little, or Key agrees and people see Little as a leader putting aside politics for the good of NZ.

      Being positive instead of negative…wins people over everyday of the week.

      • Anne 6.2.1

        Hi Chuck. We’re on opposite sides of the political fence so there’s not much we are going to agree on, but I do rate you as an intelligent right winger – as opposed to the rwnjs who frequent this site.

        This is the way I read it and both sides have been equally guilty.

        I’ll confine it to National and Labour as the two largest parties:

        On the one hand Andrew Little tried to emphasise the link between Whitney (Key’s former lawyer) and Key. Yes, Whitney is mentioned in the PPs and the likely-hood… he IS up to his neck in Trust Haven type activity but that doesn’t mean Key is implicated. No actual proof of such a link should have set off a few warning bells to LEAVE WELL ALONE.

        On the other hand John Key attempted to smear Greenpeace, Amnesty International and the Red Cross with supposed dodgy dealing when he knew full well they were fake names used by the real culprits to hide their identities. And the contemptuous attempt to discredit profoundly deaf female MP, Mojo Mathers I hope has cost him some votes.

        The real concern is the damage to our corruption-free image overseas if it transpires that NZ entities are complicit in ‘enabling’ some mega wealthy individuals avoid/evade having to pay any taxes either in their own countries or elsewhere. This is what all concerned should be concentrating on.

  7. whateva next? 7

    Yes, the National Party Panzer division has been mobilised,in response to Panama Papers, as we would expect. Mathew, no matter how much money and spin you throw at the plebs, you cannot control our distaste for your greed, it just stinks:

    “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
    Viktor E. Frankl

    • AmaKiwi 7.1

      @ whatever next?

      An excellent choice of quotes from Frankl (who survived the concentration camps).

      Use often again as it applies to so much of our current politics.

      • whateva next? 7.1.1

        I often thought of it of it when people responded to my question 2014, “Are you going to vote?”, with an exhausted sense of resignation, “what’s the point?” .
        The masses have been lulled into believing this is the only way, and the alternative is worse….? What?!

        and Frankl? Respect for his opinion was more than earned, I always look at how some one has lived prior to power.Say no more.

  8. fender 8

    RNZ have certainly let themselves down by allowing the Hooton airbag to tarnish their reputation.

    Morrisey, please pen another of your eloquent and well reasoned letters giving RNZ a bollocking

  9. save nz 9

    Even Trump is going to show his tax returns, Cameron has, where is Key’s?

  10. dukeofurl 10

    Right at the bottom

    ” Exceltium, has clients in the legal services industry offering trust services to domestic and international clients”

    Invoiced, paid ,delivered. Fairly new clients I would imagine needing urgent services, and my god they could afford to pay very well.

  11. Pat 11

    Hooton has had an inordinate platform at RNZ for some time….as to the question of balance, I note the return of the lacklustre Mike Williams to the weekly political commentary….by request??

    • Paul 11.1

      For someone representing the interests of the 1%, views like Hooton’s should get 1% of airtime.
      They don’t.
      They get a hell of a lot more.
      Neo-liberalism owns the media.

      • Pat 11.1.1

        ..even publicly funded RNZ it would seem.

        • Paul

          The political placement of Griffin sorted that.
          Pity RNZ staff don’t mimic media works staff and rid them of him like Weldon was evicted.

          • Pat

            not much chance of that I suggest ,given the likely number of journalists looking for new employ in the next wee while.

      • whateva next? 11.1.2

        Listening to Prebble this morning on NZ Q&A justifying foreign trusts and being proud that NZ offers an escape route for rich Venezuelan people, worried about “the commies”. That tells me he is more concerned about a relatively few people who are not actually his problem, and totally disinterested in many more people under his nose (serving him his latte) who live in a garage, or their car, with their children. It’s a ridiculous argument at best, and I think it is obscene he has air time to try and spin the narrative. Let’s keep it real.

        • Paul

          Prebble of ACT?

          • Johan

            Aren’t Prebble, Douglas and Thatcher dead yet, and if not, why give them extra oxygen;-)))

        • Anne

          His efforts to talk down Dr Deborah Russell will not go unnoticed. I detected a spot of attempted bullying in his manner towards her too. Resident political scientist, Dr Raymond Miller didn’t come across to me as impressed with his attitude.

          Doubt Prebble will be returning any time soon.


          • Paul

            If you ever want proof that the media in this country is owned, look at how many platforms people from the ACT Party get.
            Hide, Prebble, Coddington, Franks. ….
            A political party that struggles to get 1% of the popular vote can be found all over the media including RNZ.
            As devout believers of neo-liberalism, corporates want their message to be heard.

          • whateva next?

            I hope not, he managed to lower the standard of the debate significantly, maybe that’s the plan?

          • Mrs Brillo

            I too was offended by his shouting down – making stuff up as he went along – of Dr Russell’s informed points. She had something to say that was insightful and to the point, and he was determined that we should be prevented from hearing it. And TV1 let him get away with it.

            He added no information to the discussion and was generally a waste of space as a guest.

            The chairing/interviewing standard of Q&A this morning was well below par. Nick Smith ran rings round his interviewer, too.
            Lisa Owen on 3 didn’t let Smith get away with that, she’s much sharper.
            TV1 had better lift their game.

            • John shears




              Thank you

          • North

            I thought he came across a bit gah gah actually.

          • BM

            That Deborah Russell is a rude bitch, she spent the whole time talking over Prebble.

            • left for dead

              Oh Bloody Minded ,, stop being so silly, no one could talk over that Mad Dog, not even you.. 👿

  12. Katipo 12

    When browsing the RNZ site I noticed that headline and did a double take, OK it doesn’t say “dissatisfied”, Hmmmm that’s a bit strange, but then I noticed the word “Opinion” my next instinct was, it must be a satirical headline a-la the Onion. It wasn’t until I saw Hooton was the author the penny dropped.

  13. ankerawshark 13


    13 May 2016 at 11:11 pm
    I have to disagre Enough is Enough about Trotter’s article………….Trotter is spinning for the Nats. Making it Labour’s fault again. If only Labour had have taken a different approach this this problem would be all tidied up by now.

    F Trotter. The second article in one week criticizing Labour and the Left and praising JK on 5th estate. I suspect he is now on Hooten’ payroll and after this article Hooten tweeted see I was right, I said Labour would be losers over the Panama papers…….

    I am afraid I only have one word for Mr Trotter at the moment SCAB

    • fender 13.1

      This by Trotter is very troubling:

      “Whether these sovereign individuals are the heirs to old family fortunes, or the lumpenproletarian leaders of methamphetamine-distributing street gangs, makes little difference. Large piles of cash must first be sanitised, and then they must be protected. If the Panama Papers prove nothing else, it’s that law firms dedicated to providing such services are not confined to the pages of John Grisham novels!”

      “It takes a touching degree of innocence, not to say naiveté, to assume that the whole nation will rise up as one against the spectacle of extremely wealthy individuals and families setting up trusts in foreign lands to avoid paying tax at home. The Left clearly does not grasp the huge number of people who, aspiring to become extremely wealthy individuals themselves, observe the depredations of the One Percent with feelings more akin to admiration than disgust.”

      I’d expect Trotter to be condemning this shit, but to me it reads differently, hope I’m mistaken.

      • Paul 13.1.1

        I sense Trotter has sold out.

        • Pat

          sold out?…or given up?

        • greywarshark

          What Fender is quoting from Trotter iare paragraphs objectively looking at the likely response from voters thinking about the trust matters and whether voters will, as a result, be inclined to abandon Nats and Key and go to the

          If you don’t like what he says, that will be because you find it hard to think and make objective analysis and judgments. Try asking yourselves whether you, yourself are capable at analysing clearly, without emotions resulting from ideals of what should be.

          It’s no wonder the comment seems to go round in circles everyone being such a guru on knowing what should be done and passing wise judgments on all matters. But when somebody differs from the conformist, hopeful view, then the left spends more time attacking each other than doing the hard thinking, planning and steering through a successful campaign and policies for the betterment of the polity.

          • Pat

            except that in both his article and interview he didn’t just note that he thought trying to link Key personally to dodgy trusts was a losing strategy he at the same time conflated the purposes of resident family trusts with FTs and ignored the financial and reputational impacts on NZ.

            Given his background and connections it is difficult to consider he was unaware of this and he must have also been aware of the tacit support he was offering such action by doing so.

        • AmaKiwi

          @ Paul

          “I sense Trotter has sold out.”

          In fairness, I think Chris shares the frustration many of us feel, that in the face of a bullying John Key, Labour is often too divided, weak, ineffective.

          I would like a NZ version of Bernie Sanders but none has come forward yet.

      • Gabby 13.1.2

        I think the Trotsker’s aiming for worldlywise sophisticate, but reaching pompous tit.

      • Incognito 13.1.3

        I don’t have a problem with those two quoted paragraphs.

        To you “it reads differently” and I’d like to hear how you read it.

        • fender

          I know it needs to be taken in context with the whole article, but nowhere does he come close to suggesting this behaviour is in any way wrong. He does say:

          “The Left constantly fails to register the brute realities of living in a society driven by the neoliberal imperatives of twenty-first century capitalism. In a world where the interests of the successful individual trump everybody else’s, avoiding and/or evading tax has become an industry in its own right.”

          However the main theme seems to be that it’s more about the Lefts obsession with getting rid of Key rather than the objection many have about National setting up the conditions for this dodgy behaviour to flourish. I’d expect Chris to at least object to having a situation where it’s possible for foreign drug gangs to use our country as a tool for laundering their loot. Maybe I’m expecting too much.

          • whateva next?

            “…..Lefts obsession with getting rid of Key rather than the objection many have about National setting up the conditions for this dodgy behaviour to flourish. ..”

            It’s BECAUSE Key is in, the “dodgy” behaviour flourishes. No, I haven’t got “KDS”, I can just think for myself thanks Mathew, so don’t try that ridiculous schoolyard tactic on me, there is no such thing as KDS.

          • Incognito

            Thank you.

            Again, I think this paragraph by Trotter is also pretty accurate.

            I’d say that Trotter’s wording is not complimentary at all and he may not see the need to spell out what is blatantly obvious?

            Unfortunately, I do think that many people focus too much on John Key – I find myself guilty of this, from time to time – and this has become a formidable tool in Key’s hands. Key may become National’s Achilles’ heel but so far he has been their iron fist rather and many have repeatedly walked into this …

            Strangely, I find myself more on Trotter’s side in this particular case!?

            • fender

              Thanks Incognito for your thoughts, your comments are always worth reading.

      • Olwyn 13.1.4

        I don’t think that Trotter has either sold out or given up, but is instead being a bit subtle. This is what I read him as saying: these international tax havens are evidence of the social contract being broken – they show the rich as feeling no obligation to the broader society, seeing themselves as entitled to extract as much as they can while giving back as little as they can. Under these conditions, people feel forced to act in an “each individual for themselves” way. Sternly saying “This won’t do!” is an inadequate response, since it assumes a social contract whose demands are not being met rather than a social contract that is broken. Trotter doesn’t say so, but I suggest he might think that we need a renewed vision of the public good, as opposed to assuming on one that is now openly in tatters.

        • Pat

          its a stretch…but lets assume you are correct…..hasnt he made the same mistake he acuses “the left” of?…..if he is advocating a formation of a new social contract publicly supporting the actions of those that destroyed the old is is hardly conducive to change.

          • Olwyn

            I’m not sure he is supporting the actions of those that destroyed the old as much as he is trying to be realistic about them, and also about the amount of traction you get from saying “John Key’s a very, very very bad man.” This approach might work as Key’s failings incrementally mount up, but it has not worked so far.

            • Pat

              agree it hasn’t worked to date…however given recent polling it may well be beginning to….the next poll will be interesting.Further note that given Nationals strategy of promoting Key’s personality as the substance of nationals popularity AND given it overshadows both economic planning(or lack of) and incompetent ministers(and by extension ministries) he is the only target available.The electorate has demonstrated twice now they are not interested in policy.

              If Chris Trotter is attempting t be subtle as you suggest the best you could hope for is his apparent support for said action may cause enough surprise to encourage closer inspection……what odds that?

            • swordfish

              ” … the amount of traction you get from saying “John Key’s a very, very very bad man.” This approach might work as Key’s failings incrementally mount up, but it has not worked so far.”

              Normally, I’d agree wholeheartedly with you and Trotter on this. As The Guardian’s Rafael Behr recently put it in the UK context: ” Voters prefer competence to compassion, so the Opposition won’t gain ground by focussing on Cameron’s wealth and privilege. Labour needs to prove its fitness to govern.”

              With a bit of tweaking, he could easily be commenting on contemporary New Zealand politics.

              Certainly the detailed breakdowns of leadership polls over the last few years suggest that Key’s/National’s popularity has revolved not so much around public perceptions of honesty as around perceptions of basic competence.

              The New Zealand Election Study of 2011 found that Valence issues – especially perceptions of Leadership Ability and Economic Competence – played the most important role in vote choice for those not already firmly aligned. And furthermore, despite the assumptions of some on the Left that Key’s image had remained entirely untarnished up until the Dirty Politics scandal erupted, his Honesty ratings had, in fact, been slowly but steadily eroding for quite some time – at the time of the September 2014 General Election, they were down more than 20 percentage points on 2009. And yet the Nats still managed to win in 2014 and they’ve remained relatively high in the polls.

              Why ? Largely, because a crucial segment of swing-voters were holding their noses and pragmatically placing perceived competence above concerns about dishonesty. (I’m putting aside the fact that the collapse of Colin Craig’s Conservatives has also played a part in keeping the Nats ratings at a respectable level and partially disguised a broad Nat-to-Oppo swing over the last 12 months)

              So, like I say, normally I’d agree. But, it’s just possible that the Panama Papers affair may be hitting both Key and the Nats in the polls as we speak. As Pat (comment below) implies, we’ll need to see what happens over the next few polls – but arguably we already have some evidence.

              First, I know of 3 Polls that have been carried out since the Panama Story broke: 1 Public Poll (Reid Research) and 2 Internal Party Polls (Curia for the Nats / UMR for Labour). Both Roy Morgan and the UMR have National down on 42% – its lowest rating in any poll since the last Election (with the Govt Bloc also on its lowest rating and the Oppo Bloc on a 54% high in the Roy Morgan).

              The Nats are down 5.5 points on the February Roy Morgan and down a very similar 5 points on the previous 2 Internal National Party Curia polls (conducted before the story broke).

              Second, a mid-April UMR found strong concern (even among erstwhile National voters) about New Zealand’s reputation as a tax haven, about the way the Government had handled the fallout, and about the inadequacy of the proposed Shewan review.

              And third, as I mentioned in earlier comments in April, the latest UMR puts Key on his lowest ever Favourability rating of just + 2 (compared to + 16 in the final quarter of 2015, + 27 in 2014, and + 58 during his first year in power).

              So, too early to tell for sure, but there are at least some initial hints of a slump in Tory support. Even if they have taken a hit, though, past experience does suggest that it could be temporary. We won’t know until we know.

              • swordfish

                Minor Correction: That should be – “1 Public Poll (Roy Morgan)”
                not Reid Research

              • Olwyn

                Thanks for that analysis Swordfish, and I hope that gradual drop in Tory support continues. But a drop in Tory support is not enough by itself – it is also necessary for the left to be ready and able to step convincingly up to the plate.

  14. Gangnam Style 14

    Seriously WTF RNZ? Hooton is paid by Foreign Tax Fund Lobbyists & lets not forget he handed over Hagers home address to some would be thugs.

    • Gabby 14.1

      The trick is to show that Ponyboy’s been lying about his competency. Best of both worlds.

    • Chris 14.2

      “…& lets not forget he handed over Hagers home address to some would be thugs.”

      Then RNZ get Hooton on to provide commentary on it as if he had nothing to do with it. That was truly surreal.

  15. Bill 15

    I’ve no problem with Hooton or whoever getting oxygen from RNZ. There’s a caveat. Each piece should carry a short precis of their political positioning. Same for any and all political commentators.

    There’s no such thing as balance. There’s no such thing as objectivity. There are two forms of bias – honest and dishonest. By revealing the ‘home’ of any given political writing, the bias becomes honest.

    edit: read the piece. I found it genuinely quite humorous – dunno why knickers are getting all twisted over it. And there waa an accompanying disclaimer and explanation of Mathew’s affiliations etc.

    • Paul 15.1

      And a full and a honest précis including Hooton’s intimate connections to Dirty Politics, his actions to Nicky Hager and the names of Ezceltium’s corporate clients and how much they pay him to spin on their behalf.
      Let people see the man behind the mask.
      Transparency please.

      • Bill 15.1.1

        The disclaimer on the piece is this :-

        Disclosure: Matthew Hooton’s public relations and lobbying firm, Exceltium, has clients in the legal services industry offering trust services to domestic and international clients. These views are his own.

        That reads as relevant and sufficient. You want a disclaimer to the effect that he eats babies?

        • Pat

          the question is why was it even there? is he on the RNZ journalists payroll?….I think not, though under current regime even that is not beyond the bounds of possibility.

          • Bill

            It’s an opinion piece. Many outlets publish opinion pieces. That’s why it was there. Payrolls and journalism have got nothing to do with it – utterly irrelevant when considering opinion pieces..

            • Richardrawshark

              I agree with you Bill, there is a disclaimer, the General Public of NZ know who Hooten is and what he does.

              We’ll laugh at his obvious spin, the Acts n Nats will cheer and believe the whole nation believes them when they don’t.

              The rest of us will either listen for the lols or change station , article

              Idiots live in a fantasy world where everyone believes they are the smartest people in the room and we listen to their every word like it was a revelation of truth.

            • greywarshark

              Why should RadioNZ have specious opinion pieces? Any one of us could write an opinion piece and could appear there if it is meant to be a public forum for well written prose about politics, tax, the economy etc.

              You could write a very good piece Bill and it would be a good time to offer one of your very readable and thoughtful pieces to our public broadcaster. F..k Hooton, the RW are using the trend to virtually behead journalists by the wealthy and powerful and say they are encouraging citizen journalism, to encourage and handpick those who spout the Right phrases.

              • Bill

                The role of opinion pieces, generally speaking, is that they ‘keep a lid on things’. What I mean by that is that analyses that counter the ‘accepted’ narrative get a platform. That could be a piece by a Cockburn or a Fisk or (very, very occasionally) a Chomsky. But what they say is never reported as ‘news’ or headed as ‘news’. News, so we are led to believe, is impartial and factual. That means it carries more weight in the general scheme of things.

        • Paul

          Yes and who are those clients ?
          The alcohol industry?
          Big Sugar?
          Tobacco companies?
          Pharmaceutical industries?
          Overseas finance companies?

          Knowing which interests pay Hooton’s bills helps to understand his bias.

          • Bill

            From the disclaimer attached to the piece Exceltium, has clients in the legal services industry offering trust services to domestic and international clients

            Given that he was offering up his opinion on off-shore trusts….shrug

            It could be fun to parse the disclaimer mind.

            Is the legal services industry a reference to the legality of the industry or to legal firms? And so on….if you’ve a lazy Sunday ahead of you.

            edit: if you want to know who the clients are, maybe try searching the Exceltium web-site. Or ask him when his ban around these parts is over. (I think he’s currently banned)

        • weka

          “That reads as relevant and sufficient. You want a disclaimer to the effect that he eats babies?”

          I agree with your points about honest and dishonest bias. But the disclaimer wasn’t sufficient. If Hooton is eating babies then they need to say that. i.e. it’s not just about his connections with Panama or trusts, it’s his role (ongoing) with dirty politics. Obvious RNZ isn’t going to be as overt about that as some here would be, but they still need to make it clear for all the people that haven’t read DP, or didn’t follow what happened. I think many people in NZ would be unaware of either Hooton’s connections to the machine that seeks to destroy the left, nor of where he sits in the political spectrum. Let’s not forget he is a master of spin.

    • Xanthe 15.2

      Totally agree that “balance” in the media sense currently means spin and misdirection from several sources… worse than useless.
      Check for nonfacts, misdirection , and unseen motives …… if any found …….dont publish.
      That would be responsible editorial process.

      • Bill 15.2.1

        Alternatively, as a reader, do it critically – apply a critical analysis – and evaluate against your own bias and preferences.

        I’ve no problem with non-facts – it’s known as opinion (informed or otherwise). I’ve no problem with spin – everyone has an agenda. Throwing something out there as a fact when it’s an obvious falsehood? Yeah. Stomp on the perpetrator of that nonsense. (But be prepared for some to cast you up as ogre victimising pious messenger)

        No-one will spoon feed the truth. And anyone who says they are, well, perhaps they should have their hand bitten off.

        • Paul

          The media should be acting as the 4th Estate, questioning power.
          Since the advent of neo-liberalism it has become the mouthpiece of the powerful.
          This post is expressing concern that even state media has now succumbed to corporate interests.

          • Bill

            There never was a “4th Estate” holding power to account – Never. Media (mainstream) has always served power and its various agendas.

            What there used to be (in some countries) was a plethora of publications, each peddling their own bias and each promoting their own ‘agenda of importance’ – meaning that the public could pick and choose the news they received.

            • Paul

              And that’s why RNZ is so important.

              • Bill

                RNZ is an extension or amplification of agendas set by society’s powerful – be that government or corporate centers of power.

                Example. Back in ’84, or during any assault of the powerful on us (the general population), has RNZ and its reporting come out decisively, unabashedly and consistently on the side of us, the people – given that to do so would constitute a clear and present threat to power? No. Has it fuck. And it never will.

                • weka

                  Actually various journalists and academics did (to the extent that they existed within NZ society and weren’t anarchists). And they lost their jobs and funding. That’s the problem. So yeah the 4th estate was part of the establishment, but it’s on a spectrum and they used to do a far better job than they do now of holding power to account.

                  The thing that worries me is not that RNZ are being told to put up Hooton’s piece, but that people within the organisation think that it’s valid and appropriate to. We have lost a lot of our sense of propriety and boundaries in the past decades, esp in the last 8 years. That’s why culturally we’re no longer very good at getting the difference between honest bais and dishonest bias.

                  • Bill

                    That “various journalists” spoke out against power or spoke truth to power (I’m assuming that’s what your saying) and that they lost their jobs because of that, merely reinforces the point that I’m making.

                    RNZ, in line with all other mainstream media, simply will not brook dissent or criticism that is perceived as constituting a threat to vested interests (ie, institutional power)

                    Anarchism or whatever has got nothing to do with that.

                    • weka

                      I just don’t think it’s as absolutist as you seem to be saying. Pretty sure I could name at least one journalist in every organisation that is still doing good things. It’s not unreasonable to assume that that is also reflected in producers and managers.

                      So sure, RNZ has never been as radical as we want, it doesn’t mean it’s never held the line or challenged power which is why some think it’s still important.

                    • Bill

                      As I’ve commented somewhere else on this thread. People who have ‘dangerous’ views or analyses are consigned to the opinion pieces columns. That is because there is ‘news’ – the stuff we are meant to accept as factual and impartial – and there are ‘mere’ opinions.

                      You’re right that one or two nuggets of truth ‘get through’. Oddly, they’re usually found in the business sections of major publications – certainly not anywhere on the front pages.

                    • weka

                      I honestly don’t think RNZ are that bad. They’re covering the PAnama papers etc in depth. They are very uneven though, hence Hooton. Maybe it’s a trade off, they get to keep some investigative journalism so long as Hooton stays as prime political commentator.

                  • Bill

                    Yeah fair enough. I find RNZ really shallow on the whole. I find BBC news generally woeful and, before I came to the information desert of NZ, I’d only pick up ‘The Guardian’ for a guffaw.

                    I’ll put this out there. If the Panama Papers wind up revealing a very clear threat to established power (I mean broader than just the current government), RNZ will drop its coverage like a hot potato.

        • xanthe


          Brandolini’s law[14]) states that:

          The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.

          • Bill

            Yup. And that’s why critical reading is necessary. I’m genuinely astounded by the number of people I come across who just don’t seem to have that capability, or who can’t be bothered exercising it. Look at the amount of ridiculous tosh that flies around the likes of facebook that’s obviously bullshit, but that gets shared on and shared on again on the basis there is something to it.

            Facebook only provides the most obvious examples but bullshit is ubiquitous and covers mainstream reporting on anything from Russia; to global warming; to terrorism; China…food news; technology pieces: health reporting….domestic politics; public attitudes; public beliefs….you name it, ‘our’ media routinely slathers it in bullshit and serves the result back up as ‘intelligent opinion’, facts or news.

            • weka

              Lack of critical thinking make me want to tear my hair out. But that’s an argument for RNZ being more discerning than ever. We can’t rely on people to read critically, so the journalists should be doing it and making it obvious.

              The Spinoff is doing a pretty good job of that currently.

              • Bill

                If we can’t read critically (as a population), then journalists will get a free pass on tosh. If we can’t read critically, then what makes you think that journalists would suddenly stand above and apart from that malaise? And if we can’t read critically and some committee comprised of individuals who can read critically is formed to vet our information, then how do we avoid becoming readers of a 21st C Pravda?

                How about, instead, critical thinking and critical reading is taught in our schools? And how about it being necessary to get through university? No more texts that are other peoples interpretations of works that students, with no need for critical faculties, then play one off against the other .

                • weka

                  Um, obviously some of us can think critically, including journalists. But you have to have critical thought in journalism because not every can do it.

                  Sure, teach critical thinking, probably one of the best things we could do at this point. Doesn’t negate the other points though.

                  • Bill

                    I looked at journalism a good number of years back. It’s seagull territory. Take the tit-bit. Regurgitate.

                    Enquiring minds are not encouraged and are pretty actively discouraged.

                    A couple of years back I posted a link to an article by a journalist where he laid out in quite precise detail how he was gradually nudged out of journalism because he wasn’t ‘playing the game’. If I didn’t have such a fucking terrible handle for searching – ie, ‘Bill’ brings up everything under the sun on a site search, I’d think about finding it and re-posting it here. It made for some very revealing and interesting reading.

            • Incognito

              Why make a pizza from scratch, from the most basic ingredients, when you can order a cheap one delivered to your front door in 15 min without having to get up from your couch?

              The market delivers ease (convenience), speed (expedience), efficiency, and quality & quantity products & services so why would thinking not be treated in the same way and become commoditised?

              An example is online tertiary education through lectures and courses (MOOCs) and qualifications with a plethora of websites offering tutorials, exam questions (and answers) and ones that even do your assignments for you.

              AI is already making inroads in several areas of human activity that involves thinking and decision making. The ‘nonsense’ that we see on FB and social media is just one symptom of something big & scary that is happening right now and right under our noses.

              I can highly recommend this article by the Canadian philosopher and political theorist Nikolas Kompridis Technology’s Challenge To Democracy: What Of The Human?.

              • Bill

                Maybe, somewhere in all that, something was going to be said…probably the same old banal type of observation that post modernists like to hide beneath layers of semantics, obfuscation and torturous logic. Sorry, I can’t/won’t read it Incognito. Yes, I’m bias. When I come across one of those poseurs writing, I kind of want them to be standing in the room so I can throw them out of the window along with the chicken scraps.

                Maybe you could submit a sentence in the comments that, I’m sure, could probably encapsulate the bottom line of his verbose meanderings and ramblings?

                • Incognito

                  Hi Bill,

                  You prefer a plain, simple, and easy sentence? [Please see further down for a sentence or two …]

                  Funnily enough, that was the point I was trying to make.

                  Many people are (intellectually) lazy, pressed for time, biased, or generally can’t be bothered to read & think (critically).

                  They prefer news, or infotainment rather, in small bite-size portions. Even better if these are pre-chewed and pre-digested, like ultra-processed convenience food, so that all that’s required is to just view (!) for 5 seconds and then ‘like’ (and/or share) on Facebook, for example; FB will do the rest at no extra effort.

                  I’m glad that at least my pizza metaphor got some traction 😉

                  You can’t or won’t read some comments or links but others might.

                  In any case, the Kompridis piece is very hard-going (for me) but worth it.

                  Briefly, the central question he addresses is:

                  what is it (does it mean) to be a human being, now, and in the future, and what kind of future do we want for ourselves? [paraphrased]

                  He writes that this used to be an arcane and almost obsolete question but not anymore and now it is, in fact, a rather urgent question because of the rapidly accelerating technological advancements that threaten (!) the human.

                  He urges all of us to take part in answering this question and to keep this question open (and, paradoxically, unanswered). If we don’t do this the choices and decisions will be made for us without consultation or consent, e.g. by scientists or market-driven technocrats, but not by us.

                  Last but not least, Kompridis argues that this central question is intimately connected with democracy and that we humans need to be more prepared to respond to technology’s challenges to democracy.

                  I cannot agree more with Kompridis but I do apologise for any ‘gibberish’ in my previous comment when I tried to connect a few more dots. In case you hadn’t noticed, I love connecting and disconnecting dots and discover (or create/perceive) patterns; in this regard IT/internet is both a blessing and a curse.

                  If you’re still with me Bill I hope the above has somewhat helped.

                  PS To give you an idea of what Kompridis is talking about I think this recent article in the NZ Herald is a good illustration Should we edit out genetic disease?. The last sentence:

                  Ultimately, they [stories of families with a member suffering from a genetic disorder] reflect a fundamental part of what makes us human.

                  • Bill

                    So okay. I’m picking he’s saying that we are all (or humanity is) the result of various complex interactions with various external and internal environments. And he’s suggesting that some of those environments will be altered by technology (the threat).

                    And he’s maybe further suggesting that we should exercise agency over the creation or formation of those environments (the democratic bit).

                    I’ll put the edit here.

                    I guess he’s also suggesting that if a conclusion was arrived at (with regards what is human) then we’d become mere widgets or whatever to be arranged ‘just so’ by some overseer constructing the perfectly configured society.

                    And (if the above is close to the mark) here’s the good bit. What he doesn’t say (I’ll bet) is that that is exactly the situation with any form of authoritarianism and that his post modern ‘philosophy’ has it’s roots in one of the worst examples of that – Stalinism; the political and theoretical basis that French intellectuals finally dumped in favour of the new ‘thing’ – the post modernism that they inflicted on an unsuspecting world. 😉

                    edit ends.

                    I mean, that’s only going by your summary, but is it close enough? I’m quietly hoping it is so that I chuckle a wee ‘told you so’ about the fairly banal observations of post modernist writings.

              • Bill

                The link aside…my pizza tastes better. I like making pizza. And similarly, I like thinking.

                I don’t want chicken in a can, pizza in a box or thoughts in a resealable, reusable container.

                • Colonial Viper

                  And here I am chowing down on Dominoes as I read your comments…

                  • Bill

                    Go on, tell me it has tinned chicken in the topping 😉

                    edit: You suddenly feeling a wee bit suspect about that there chicken in your pizza?

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Oh gawd now I’m feeling sick.

                      You gonna tell me that those ain’t real cranberries in the “cranberry sauce”?

                    • Craig H

                      I used to be a store manager with Domino’s, and while they earn plenty of their dislike, the ingredients are generally legitimately high quality.

                      Discovering that RoI of 25% wasn’t enough for many owners did my head in, however.

                  • Once was Tim

                    I hope you didn’t have it delivered. You’d be party to the employer’s delivery fee that hardly covers petrol – let alone running costs; and his/her being monitored by some Head Office franchiser control freak that might just write him/her a letter saying they must have been speeding – then issuing him/her with a warning.

                    Then again, you might have struck a franchisee that is one of the better employers.

    • mickysavage 15.3


      I have not seen Radio New Zealand run an opinion piece like this before. I believe it is a bad precedent especially for a state broadcaster. And I am struggling to understand why it was required except as some sort of idea of balance foisted from above.

      The RNZ charter should preclude this sort of article from being posted.

      • veutoviper 15.3.1

        Like you, MS, I was absolutely astounded yesterday when I read this opinion piece on the RNZ website.

        One reason was that I had not seen them run such a piece before; but more so, in light of the disclosure statement that Hooton made at the start of his segment on last Monday’s Nine to Noon programme.


        His statement starts at about 45 seconds in. In addition to making the disclosure statement that appears in the opinion piece re ” Exceltium, has clients in the legal services industry offering trust services to domestic and international clients”, Hooton also said that in discussing the Panama papers, trusts etc :

        – he was ‘quite compromised … more compromised than in all his 12 years commentating on the programme

        – he was also talking to other people/possible clients and things were in a state of flux at present

        – Roger Thompson was definitely NOT a client of his.

        [Words may not be exactly as per the recording as above is me going on my memory.]

        This did not stop him talking at length! IMHO. he should have been stopped in view of his disclosure statement, but was not. The opinion piece yesterday was therefore even more surprising.

        For the last two weeks, Hooton has been OTT on Twitter etc in regard to the Panama papers, foreign trusts etc – and particularly, the RNZ/ TVNZ/ Hager collaboration. Re the latter, he is raging today on his Twitter account and seeking to find out how much taxpayers’ money was involved and what the arrangements etc were for the team to get access to the papers. OIA time.
        Here is the link to his Twitter account – too many different threads to pick one or two.


        And this thread is good for a laugh

  16. Chooky 16

    Hooton is a master at disinformation and spin twisting the truth…i don’t know how he lives with himself?…i guess it is his bank balance

    RNZ really does need to get some more balance….but I am not sure who could sock it to Hooton effectively?…any ideas?… Sue Bradford?…Nicky Hager?…(and they need to be paid very well and know the topics for discussion in advance)

    …btw I dont think they should get rid of Hooton ( he is entertainment value and he lets you know how the right wing spin it)…they just need someone to counter his lies and spin twisting effectively )

    • Paul 16.1

      I’m ok with Hooton if we have full transparency on who pays his bills.

      • UncookedSelachimorpha 16.1.1

        Except RNZ shouldn’t be publishing paid-for content, even if all is open and declared. That is for infomercial trash like the NZ Herald “Brand Insight” or whatever.

  17. Incognito 17

    The tag nicky hagar has the surname misspelled.

    [Spotted batman! :-). I’ve added an extra tag and left the viking in because, well…Why not? mickysavage might want to remove it…] – Bill

  18. stunnedmullet 18

    This is an odd piece by MS.

    RNZ has clearly stated who the piece is by, that it is opinion and has a full disclosure about the person who’s opinion it is.

    Can’t see what the problem is myself, if only all media were as open about who authors/interviewees/interviewers are and had full disclosure commentary it would make for far more transparency.

    • mickysavage 18.1

      Two reasons:

      1. I can’t think of any time when it has been done before.

      2. RNZ should keep control of its independence and not put up puff pieces from people with clearly partisan views.

      • stunnedmullet 18.1.1

        “1. I can’t think of any time when it has been done before.”

        Well I think you’re being disingenuous and choosing to ignore the fact that RNZ does this kind of thing all the time with it’s interviews on the airwaves.

        Certainly on the page that Hooten’s piece is on there’s opinion from all over the political spectrum


        “2. RNZ should keep control of its independence and not put up puff pieces from people with clearly partisan views.”

        See above – RNZ as part of its brief must surely interview and gain opinion widely otherwise it’d just be the announcers proffering their opinion from on high. I want to hear the opinion of as broad a spectrum as possible from all sides of the political spectrum and then make up my own mind.

    • Old Tony 18.2

      Couldn’t agree more stunned mullet. Its like the writer has conflated the Left view with neutrality such that its only bias if its from the Right.

      Everybody knows that MH is overtly Right whereas John Campbell is less obviously Left. How is this column Right bias when JC’s very existence on the station is not Left bias?

      Very odd.

      As to the substantive issue HM is also right. Allowing New Zild to be a vehicle for citizens of other countries to rip off their tax system is wrong. But so too is desperately trawling for a name, any name, in the PP so as to be able to establish “links” between NZers we don’t like and crooks and vagabonds. Ideological assassination.

      Finally, most irritating of all, the running of the collaboration between RNZ, TVNZ and Nicky Hagar as the story, when the papers themselves failed to reveal anything of great moment. Oh gee wow, we are grown-up journalists now doing stories with foreigners and papers with German names.

      • mickysavage 18.2.1

        “Its like the writer has conflated the Left view with neutrality such that its only bias if its from the Right”

        No I have not. It would be just as bad if Labour was in power and one of its PR providers were given a free post. RNZ stories should be written by reporters, not PR employees.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 18.2.2

        “The Left view”.

        Which you wouldn’t recognise if you tripped over it, because – like Hooton – you’re too busy creating false narratives.

        The Left isn’t “neutral”? That’s right: when lawyers set up elaborate money-laundering schemes, or help bankrupts break the spirit of the law, someone is bound to point that out no matter how many bribes the National Party solicits.

  19. Richardrawshark 19

    BTW, that’s what 1.4 million in donations and having really rich MP’s gets you. You can buy media time, advertising, get more radio time, and when your in power you even get a budget of 38 odd million to get your message out.

    So, what’s the opposition going to fight that with.

    Make what you say count, you have less opportunities, that means we work harder.
    We work harder at raising party funds.

    This has happened previously when states were tied up with corruption in the US way back in the old days, they started their own papers to fight corruption and get their message out.
    Those who own the media own the message. We need our own web presence or newspaper, a site like the herald or stuff where people homepage their browsers. Until then we are screwed.

  20. Henry Filth 20

    “Why did Todd McClay’s office tell the IRD that he did not want removal of the Foreign Trust regime presented to him as an option?”

    I am assuming that the minister has no idea how wrong this is, that the ministers office have no idea how wrong this is, and that IRD listened and did what they were told.


    • Barfly 20.1

      Yeah he has no idea..or didn’t care…the office had no idea ….or didn’t care etc

  21. Penny Bright 21

    In my opinion, the NZ Prime Minister John Key led SPIN – that the Panama Papers leak is effectively a flop, and New Zealand is not a tax haven – is because New Zealanders have not been proven to have used New Zealand as a tax haven?


    The shonky ‘spin’ on the question of whether or not NZ is a tax haven, through the use of NZ foreign trusts has been, in my view, really simple.

    SPIN that New Zealand is not a tax haven, because New Zealanders can’t use New Zealand as a tax haven!

    errrr….. but the thing about NZ ‘foreign trusts’ is that FOREIGNERS (NOT New Zealanders) can use them to evade taxes (and hide money) from other countries.

    THAT’S the issue.

    New Zealand is being used as a tax haven by FOREIGNERS – not New Zealanders.

    “Foreigners who set up offshore trusts pay no tax and enjoy complete secrecy on their ownership and activities.”

    Missed this Matthew Hooton?

    “Ron Pol compares one part of NZ’s foreign trusts regime to a criminal getaway car manufacturing industry and asks whether the PM will take action or double-down on offshore trusts | interest.co.nz ”


    The issue in relation to tax evasion is that New Zealand’s foreign trusts regime, whilst useful for legitimate transactions, is also the perfect getaway vehicle for criminals elsewhere (such as those evading taxes due to other countries, and other criminal activity).

    Is New Zealand a tax haven?

    Of course it is, as pointed out in Interest on 11 April:

    “For ordinary kiwis then, New Zealand is no tax haven.

    All New Zealanders pay tax, comprehensive details are collected, and information is shared with other countries.

    But one special group may well regard New Zealand as a tax haven, as the IRD informed the government a few years ago.

    Foreigners who set up offshore trusts pay no tax and enjoy complete secrecy on their ownership and activities.”

    Penny Bright
    2016 Auckland Mayoral candidate.

    • Chooky 21.1

      +100 …”For ordinary kiwis then, New Zealand is no tax haven”

      …question is “Does John Key use a tax haven?”…he has a blind trust

      …imo as the PM of New Zealand, what is in this blind trust should be open for all New Zealanders to see….and his assets/investments in other countries eg USA

  22. UncookedSelachimorpha 22

    Was this an outright PR firm press release, for which Hooten derived income? Such things have no place on RNZ.

  23. Tory 23

    Matthew Hooten wrote an opinion piece, no different than your mate Hager who wrote one on the 9 May for RNZ.
    Of course Matthews opinion piece rejects Hagers opinions so clearly it’s more a case of the left frustrated that all the hype turned into a flaccid tea party rather than the demise of JK. Finally, surely you should celebrate the fact that RNZ can offer a diversity of opinion rather than one narrow view?

    • whateva next? 23.1

      “…..celebrate the fact that RNZ can offer a diversity of opinion rather than one narrow view?” Thankyou, at last I agree with you, the issue is that Hooten is part of the NZ Panzer attack on diverse opinions expression, tends to call people “names” when they don’t follow party line, and give out personal addresses in the hope harm will come to those with “diverse “views

    • Rosemary McDonald 23.2

      Surely you can apostrophise?

      And if its going to be “Matthew”, why not “Nicky”?

      Hey, that’s an idea….”The Hager and Hoots Show”.

      • Chooky 23.2.1

        lol…with Sue Bradford , Annette Sykes, Laila Harre, Bomber Bradbury, Hone Harawira or Kim Dotcom alternating as host

    • Pat 23.3

      thats one hell of a stretch….a journalist working in conjunction with RNZ writes a piece relating to that topic……..verses a public relations consultant working for a vested interest group….hmmmm, definately equivalence there.

    • weka 23.4

      Hager is an investigative journalist, Hooton is a paid spin merchant with ties to dirty politics. One could also do a critical analysis of the content of both pieces (off the top of my head, Hooton is doing a hatchet job on the political opposition, Hager is pointing to issues of serious national interest) but I suspect you don’t care about content and believe that spin is legitimate political discourse.

      I’m also mindful that Hager isn’t as partisan as some like to make out and will critique the left as well.

      • Chuck 23.4.1

        I would wager a bet weka that just as many people (and no not on this blog alone) see Hager as a spin merchant as they do Hooton.

        Assume your last paragraph is about “Corngate and Helen Clark” Hager using faulty test data in his book… hmmm funny that.


        • One Anonymous Bloke

          Yawn. Your only answer to this issue is to attack the messenger. That’s because you cannot refute the message.

          Choke on it.

        • whateva next?

          different agenda’s, Hager’s is for integrity of government and Hooten’s is to support his rich “clients”

        • weka

          “15 May 2016 at 3:10 pm
          I would wager a bet weka that just as many people (and no not on this blog alone) see Hager as a spin merchant as they do Hooton.”

          What you fail to appreciate is that there is a difference between perception and reality. In Hooton’s world, and I’m guessing yours, there is no ethical imperative to value reality over perception. Fortunately for NZ we still have many of us who give a shit and who know that truth is far far more important than trying to win bullshit games.

        • Stuart Munro

          Don’t be silly Chuck – Hooton is bought goods – Hager is a journalist. They do not operate on the same plane, though Hoots, unlike most far-right pretenders, is actually capable of doing so. Unfortunately he uses this to lull the inattentive into a false sense of security. Wayne is somewhat similar but frankly not smart enough.

  24. Jenny 24

    It seems to me, if it has not been said already. That Radio NZ if they really are into providing “comprehensive coverage” owe the Left a right of reply.

    And I couldn’t think of any one better to pen it than you Greg. Send it in with a petition filled with as many signatures of respected and well known public figures as you can get, demanding that your ‘right of reply’ be published.

    If RNZ still refuse to publish your rebuttal, lay a complaint with the Broadcasting Standards Authority. Alleging lack of balance and political bias.

    Cheers Jenny

  25. swordfish 25

    Picking up on a couple of points made by Hoots (and taking them in a somewhat self-promotional direction):

    (1) He argues that “National Party strategists credit Kim Dotcom with the relative ease of John Key’s third election victory.” Were it not for Dotcom’s ‘Moment of Truth’, Key’s “third term would have depended on the grace of the Maori Party or, worse, the machinations of coalition negotiations with Winston Peters. Mr Dotcom delayed that dreadful day to 2017.”

    Certainly both Farrar’s Curia for National and Stephen Mills’ UMR for Labour recorded something like a 2 point swing to the Nats over the 5 or so days between the ‘Moment of Truth’ and Election Day (although, of course, that doesn’t prove causation).

    Personally, I blame the whole episode for the eventual inaccuracy of my pre-Election prediction (Sub-Zero Politics two days before Election) that the Tories would win 45.2 % of the Party-Vote and that it would hence be a close run thing between Winnie holding the balance of power or a continuation of the status quo (the Nats being able to govern with their wee helpers). I based that prediction on the final round of Polls conducted before the Moment of Truth (which were the latest available when I published my post). In the event, National received 47.0 % on Election Day, 1.8 points up on my prediction. So if it wasn’t for that bloody 2 point swing late in the piece I would have been pretty damn close to bang-on. (Got Labour’s 25.1 almost exactly right though 🙂 ).

    (2) In terms of public opinion in the wake of the Panama Papers, Hoots suggests that “what the Labour Party and some elements in the media hoped would be the decisive hit against Mr Key has backfired.” He goes on to argue that the PM can be ‘deeply satisfied” with the way things have turned out, implies that Key hasn’t taken a hit in his popularity ratings and suggests that “best of all for a Prime Minister who cares about nothing other than re-election, private National Party polling has seen his party end the week on a respectable 46%.”

    First thing to point out is that Matty usually takes the piss out of Labour’s internal polling but seems to assume National’s is sacrosanct. Looking at the only Public Poll to be conducted since the Panama Papers hit the headlines – namely the mid-April Roy Morgan – we find that, contrary to Hooton’s assertions, National is down to 42.5%, its lowest rating in any poll since the last Election; the Govt Bloc’s 46% is also the lowest in any post-Election poll; while the Oppo Bloc is at a 20 month high on 54% and with its largest lead over the Govt Bloc (by 8 points) since 2014. What does this say about the public’s reaction to Key’s handling of the saga ?

    The Nats are down 5.5 points compared to their performance in the February Roy Morgan. (Even Curia’s 46% is well below National’s average in the public polls since 2014 and, interestingly enough, is down 5 points on their support in the previous two Farrar Internals for the Party. Funny that Hoots doesn’t get around to mentioning that little fact in his RNZ opinion piece – No, instead it’s apparently a “respectable” 46%)

    Second, a mid-April UMR Poll found 57% concerned about New Zealand’s reputation as a tax haven, only 23% not concerned, … 46% felt the Key Govt had handled the fallout Poorly, with just 21% saying it was being handled well, while 52% said the Shewan Review was an inadequate response to the issue. (A significant 40% of Nat supporters described themselves as concerned, more than the 36% of Tories not concerned)

    Third, as I mentioned a few weeks ago (in various comments here on The Standard through April) the latest UMR puts Key on his lowest ever Favourability rating of just + 2 (compared to + 16 in the final quarter of 2015, + 27 in 2014 and .+ 58 during his first year in power).

    Hoots knows this, of course. A few people (Bomber at The Daily Blog, and Jessica Williams on Twitter) appear to have picked up on my comments (Bomber writing a post purportedly based on “exclusive” insider information from Labour’s pollster, Williams casting the data as “interesting rumours” she’s heard on the grapevine). That led to a wee bit of argy-bargy on Twitter, with the Right’s Rob Hosking questioning the figure, Whaleoil “calling bullshit on that” and Hooton telling Williams firmly that “rumours about internal polling are always bullshit.”

    (Can’t say I didn’t warn you that this’d be one of my more blatantly self-promotional comments 🙂 )

    • Chuck 25.1

      Good overview swordfish…on this bit “namely the mid-April Roy Morgan” could of been expanded on. As in Labour is going backwards in its numbers, while NZF seems to be picking up on any leakage National has.

      A situation less than ideal for the left…having to totally rely on NZF and Winston (on those numbers), with “soft” National voters still not seeing Labour as a genuine option.

      All be it Roy Morgan polls seem to be pretty violate in isolation.

    • Colonial Viper 25.2

      New Roy Morgan out in a few days.

      I’m picking – NATs flat to negative (+/-1%). Labour flat (+/-1%). Greens a slight lift. NZF a slight lift.

      • swordfish 25.2.1

        If that comes to pass, then you’ll have 3 consecutive Roy Morgans recording (1) an Oppo Bloc lead, (2) the Nats below 47% and (3) the Govt Bloc sub 50% – all of which would be unprecedented in the period since the last Election. Given that (before the last couple of polls) more than three quarters of the Roy Morgans favoured the Govt, you’d have to conclude that something drastic has changed – and that that something (as you’ve prophesised recently, CV) – would be a significant swing to NZF from the Nats * in the wake of both the Flag Referendum and the Panama Papers.

        * (or possibly relatively equal sized swings from both National and Labour to NZF, together with a smallish Nat-to-Lab swing).

    • mickysavage 25.3

      Thanks SF we should give you a login.

      • Colonial Viper 25.3.1

        Indeed. The poll analysis the Swordfish does on local and international numbers is second to none.

  26. Tory 26

    “Right of Reply” was exactly what was needed after a week of sensationalist journalism in which, day after day, we were fed a menu of opinion, speculation and sensationalism. So far Matthew Hootens opinion piece is about the only “Right Wing” view that has been published so I don’t think you can complain.
    Perhaps you should be asking the journalists who promised so much but delivered nothing but spin, why they lost all objectivity in their haste to be the first to land a supposed killer blow?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 26.1


      There are no such thing as right wing facts. Or left wing facts for that matter.

      Link to some RNZ or other media coverage of this issue that has been anything but factual. I’m not asking you to do this because I expect your failure to teach you anything: in fact, I expect you to cling even harder to your false beliefs, like a baby to its security blankie.

      I just want to point and laugh.

  27. Ben 27

    So it’s OK for RNZ to work closely with Hagar – arch enemy of the National Govt, pouring over 1,000s of documents trying to find some dirt on the Govt.

    But it’s not OK for the same news service to post an opinion piece stating that the attempted hit-job was a great big fizzle?

    • Pat 27.1

      think you answered your own question….Hager was working with RNZ.
      as to “attempted hit-job was a great big fizzle” lets see how many FTs remain if the disclosure regime is implemented and policed as it should have been…..if so your fizzle may become sizzle.

    • mickysavage 27.2

      Hager is an award winning journalist who has caused problems for both Labour and National governments. Hooton not so much …

    • One Anonymous Bloke 27.3



      I challenge you to link to a single instance of untruthful or biased reporting by Nicky Hager. Your failure won’t stop you repeating your lies, and it will demonstrate your mendacity to everyone else.

      He’s doing his job, and that’s a problem for you. Is it because you have something to fear and something to hide?

      What a short memory you feeble wankers have. Corngate rings no bells for you.

      • Chuck 27.3.1


        Corngate – unreliable test data used in Hagers book.

        Dirty politics – Hager himself admitted to leaving a number of journalist names out of his book (text book example of being selective). Its not very difficult to now assume those same journalists now owe Hager.

        Ring any bells OAB?

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          So now he’s a blackmailer, eh. Stoop lower, go on, express your true nature.

          So far, if there’s a shred of truth in your narrative, you’ve established that he made an error. Let me help you out: I understand an error has been found in Dirty Politics too. So his errors show no bias – one against the Left and one against the Right.

          I note your failure to link to any obviously biased reporting of the Panama evidence.

          • Chuck

            “I note your failure to link to any obviously biased reporting of the Panama evidence.”

            Ok, the breathless headlines from the “selected media” in reporting the pending dump of information from the Panama data…and what came of it? A Elvis impersonator, link to a large donor to the NZ Green party, and Greenpeace (whom it seems had their name used by a third party).

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              You forgot to mention various international police investigations,, a nascent international agreement, crim-cuddling from the centre-right (wtf’s that about?), and ‘the Shewan hitting the fan’.

              As you may be aware, we have a process called “the justice system” by which we address crimes and punishment. It takes time. The fact that no guilty verdicts have been returned yet appears to be the straw you’re clutching at today.

              As I’ve said from the beginning, I don’t mind the tax evasion (which is bad enough) so much as the cess-pool of terrorist and other criminal cash being laundered. That you are prepared to overlook that so that Tarquin Fauntleroy III gets to pay no tax speaks volumes.

              Get off your knees, serf.

              • Chuck

                You are confusing NZ with the rest of the world. Example the Iceland PM resigning over the Panama release. Nothing to do with Hager.

                Its up to what ever Country that finds terrorists, criminals etc (from the Panama data) to deal with them in their own jurisdiction.

                Since your question to me was about Hager and NZ…my answer stands as above. And I will add; to-date the NZ IRD has found the proper disclosures have been made in the approx. 200 offshore trusts with links to NZ.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  No NZ media were invited to participate in the initial year-long investigation into the evidence. Numerous international organisations were involved, and no-one from New Zealand.

                  No-one at all. Apart from Nicky Hager. You cannot acknowledge the significance of that fact because you’re lying to yourself, and I’m laughing at you.

                  The problem is that the Prime Minister’s mate (among others) launders money for anonymous foreigners. That’s why your lip service to lawnorder looks like a big bag of air.

              • Paul

                ‘Get off your knees, serf.’
                What a great riposte to these right wing trolls.

    • Johan 27.4

      To Ben:
      Keep repeating your lies and BS someone may believe you.
      I support investigative journalism and Hooton certainly does not fall in that category;-)))

    • whateva next? 27.5

      Hager makes sense and would you be able to actually dispute his writings…..? Hooten is clearly coming from a loaded angle with an agenda that suits the few

      • Richardrawshark 27.5.1

        When power changes hands can we not just declare Mathew Hooten Crosby Textor, Hide and Brash enemies of the state and stick em in a dark hole.

        I wonder if I started a petition on that, how many signitures i’d get 🙂

    • Stuart Munro 27.6

      The PM is a crook. He’s probably cheating on his taxes, he’s simply too arrogant not to. Conviction removes him from a job he was never eligible for. Hager’s work is public interest journalism. If the PM were not a crook, Hager wouldn’t find evidence of his wrongdoing at every turn. When the Clark government broke rules, Hager caught them too.

      It was not and is not a hit job. If Key is a tax cheat who should be in jail – as he most probably is – the sooner he’s thrown out the better. Hager is not the arch-enemy of this government – this government hates and fears him because they have so much wrongdoing to hide.

  28. Richardrawshark 28

    No Hagar and RNZ announced the disclosure jumped in and tried to steal the limelight.

    Hagar and RNZ had absolutely nothing to do with the information gathered by the ICJ, the were just going through the database looking for a big reveal and turned it into a sad sideshow with no gothca moment, and frankly they must of known nothing much was going to be there of instant proof and you would have to check their ird returns.

    Our media tried to turn it into a totally different thing like a cunning pre planned exersize in slight diversion. IMHO.

  29. Richardrawshark 29

    This was all about multinationals, drug dealers and crooks using our foreign trust regime and tax rate to hide assets, how did the media manage to turn it into a left wing attack that failed again, and the PM being the target and therefore no gotcha moment.

    Totally not what it was about.

  30. trendy leftie 31

    Matthew Hooten is a pompous irrelevant nitwit. Why care? Probably he nagged RNZ enough about Nicky Hager that they did feel they had to give some “balance” so he’d STFU.

    The article is typical of his Hager Derangement Syndrome, just more of his usual blather. Only other hard-core Tory nitwits will lap it up so who cares?

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