What I found interesting was the way it was handled. I was the only person this time yesterday at this particular breakfast and it was a question from the floor. Kate Wilkinson quite clearly said that employer contributions to KiwiSaver was not going to be compulsory.
Now, I had a call from the chief spin doctor from the National Party [Kevin Taylor] saying ‘I understand you are going to run the story, you are wrong’. And I thought, hang on, I was there, I heard it, and so did everybody else in the audience. And he repeated, ‘you are wrong, you will not run this, you are wrong’. Well we ran it and by two o’clock yesterday afternoon John Key was saying ‘it was Kate Wilkinson that was wrong’.
But it was the handling of it that I found not just offensive but bullying, and saying don’t run this.
This is not the first time that National has come down hard on a journalist that hasn’t followed their line. You will remember that Bay Report journalist Greg Robertson was bullied and threatened with dismissal after he quoted John Key saying ‘we would love to see wages drop’. Soper also felt National’s wrath when Bill English tried to stop him running an interview in which English said National would borrow for tax cuts.
National sees the media as a tool to hammer the Government, not an independent observer and critic. They can’t handle it when the media starts asking them the hard questions and their reaction is to threaten and bully. Hardly promising stuff from a possible government.