Nats to use censorship to keep public in the dark ahead of elections

Written By: - Date published: 10:14 am, January 18th, 2012 - 91 comments
Categories: accountability, democratic participation, Media, poverty - Tags:

As a long-term study is released showing that childhood poverty has generational effects and few manage to ‘pull themselves up by their bootstraps’, National is quietly using its power to try to prevent programmes about important issues from being broadcast during election campaigns, after a documentary on childhood poverty upset them.

Unfortunately, I don’t mean ‘upset them’ in the ‘this is awful, we must do something about fixing child poverty’ sense. I mean it in the ‘this is awful, people might demand that political parties do something about child poverty that actually works and we don’t wanna’ sense.

What happened is that, after the NZ on Air-funded documentary was aired on TV3 on the Tuesday before the election, a single compliant was recieved from one Alastair Bell – who is on the National Party’s board, manages media and public relations for political conferences and was a senior adviser to Jenny Shipley. This complaint was taken up by board member Stephen McElrea, who also happens to be John Key’s electorate chairman and the National Party’s northern region deputy chairman.

“Was NZOA aware that this doco was to be scheduled 4 days before the election? “If not, should we have been?” wrote McElrea.

This led the board of NZ on Air to:

“seek legal advice on whether NZ on Air could require an additional clause in the broadcast covenant requiring broadcasters not to screen programmes likely to be an election issue within the Election Period as defined in the Broadcasting Act”.

As you know, most New Zealand programming, particularly of a documentary nature, needs some NZ on Air funding to be viable. So, the result of the proposed ban wold be to give NZ on Air – a government agency headed by political appointees – the power to say what can and cannot be broadcast during an election campaign. The restriction on political debate during election campaigns that National is quietly trying to sneak through is unprecendented.

Are the Nats upset because the poverty documentary was politically biased? No. If they were, they could complain it was an electoral ad and they haven’t. Besides any fool can see this was informative, balanced stuff – far better than a hacky, biased rubbish that passed for political comment from the likes of Clare Robinson on publicly-funded television throughout the election campaign.

So, if it’s not biased, what are the Nats so upset about? They’re upset about the issue being raised at all. They don’t want us to go to the polls considering the serious issues facing our society, like child poverty, its economic and policy roots, and its consequences. They want us to go to the polls thinking ‘gee, I like that Nice Man Mr Key’.

McElrea argues that “To me, it falls into the area of caution we show about political satire near elections”. Rubbish. The fear around satire would be bias, surely, and there’s no accusation of bias here. We should have more balanced and informative coverage of major issues before we go to the polls, not less.

But isn’t it telling that National views a carefully factual and hugely informative documentary to be a threat? Have they considered that if their policies look bad when compared to the reality of the poverty problem that it’s the policies that are at fault, not reality? No. Their solution is to try to censor reality just when voters most need to be informed.

When Key finally gets back from holiday, he’s got some explaining to do about why his party and government are secretly trying to dictate what should be shown on TV during election campaigns. Coming on the back of his extraordinary abuse of power during the teapot tapes incident, censoring and bullying the media is becoming a bad habit for the PM.

[huge ups to Scoop and Tom Frewen for exposing this before it’s too late]

91 comments on “Nats to use censorship to keep public in the dark ahead of elections”

  1. higherstandard 1

    I would have thought that the respective news services broadcasting polls every five minutes has more of an effect on voting than any documentary.

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      Damn. I agree with you. Again!

      With regards to what EDDIE wrote – the most effective censorship within a society is self censorship. And that is what we have happening here. No one in this country rocks the boat, it is becoming more PC not less under National.

      Will the NZ Herald decry the suppressing of media reports on issues of the nation’s health as an attack on our democracy. Nah.

      • insider 1.1.1

        The desire not to embarass ministers was pretty strong under Labour. Weren’t they the ones who developed the ‘no surprises’ policy of being informed about absolutely everything by everyone? Personally I think that was a pretty corrosive policy in terms of maintaining independence for non policy state entities that supposedly had independent boards.

        • McFlock

          oh, labour did it too? Thanks for that. 
          Did they plan to restrict funding in case accurate information is broadcast to the electorate?
          Thought not.

    • Hami Shearlie 1.2

      Agreed HS!

    • Indeed, Hs…

      I suspect you’re right.

      Especially considering the number of polls out every week; on both channels; in all newspapers.

      By comparison, the doci showed just once, and I wouldn’t be surprised if only a portion of viewers that night chose to watch it. (We nearly didn’t.)

  2. Bunji 2

    We should have more balanced and informative coverage of major issues before we go to the polls, not less.

    Good blog Eddie.

    It’s good to see the MSM picking this up too. Now if they’d just focus on the actual problems of Child Poverty a bit more…

  3. tsmithfield 3

    I heard Brian Bruce on News Talk ZB. He said he had deliberately targeted the week before the election for the doco with the intention of changing the way people vote.

    I don’t have any objection to anyone doing this sort of thing. However, I do object to them doing it with public money. After-all, the taxes that pay for this come from people with a wide spectrum of views.

    I can imagine the outcry on this site if the Business Round Table had arranged for an overtly pro-right doco to be aired in the week before the election, whether it was publicly funded or not.

    • Lanthanide 3.1

      “I can imagine the outcry on this site if the Business Round Table had arranged for an overtly pro-right doco to be aired in the week before the election, whether it was publicly funded or not.”

      If it weren’t based in reality, I would be upset.

      In the case of child poverty, everything in the documentary was factual.

      Perhaps you would like it if TVNZ funded a new documentary that shows the benefits of child poverty, so we could have some “balance”?

      • McFlock 3.1.1

        whoa – because the complaint did not involve bias, that means the people who complained knew that A) the documentary was factual; and B) the facts don’t support the idea that tory policies are good for the country.
        Which tends to support the idea that they’re bad, not mad.

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.2

        If it weren’t based in reality, I would be upset.

        Well, TS did say that it would be an overtly “pro-right doco” so it inherently would be based upon delusion. He seems to have missed the point that the doco under discussion was merely factual and not pro-anything.

    • Blighty 3.2

      “I can imagine the outcry on this site if the Business Round Table had arranged for an overtly pro-right doco to be aired in the week before the election, whether it was publicly funded or not.”

      Um. Because that would be an electoral ad. Did you see the documentary? Do you think it was politically biased and an electoral ad? If so, complain to the Electoral Commission.

    • tsmithfield, if we want to ban certain kinds of documentaries from airing during the election period it is parliament’s job to legislate.

      It is not for NZOA to make those decisions for us under the completely unbelievable rationale that they have to protect their supposed reputation for political ‘neutrality’.

      For crying out loud, nobody in their right mind would think to criticise NZOA for funding that documentary. What other documentaries shouldn’t it fund? Ones about the Christchurch ‘recovery’? Pike River? The Rena? What documentaries would McElrea consider politically anodyne enough for NZOA to fund?

      The scheduling is clearly a matter for the broadcaster – who, presumably, has the right to make that decision within the bounds of any laws that may be relevant (hence, parliament’s role). I would have thought that those on the right would be all for freedom of speech within the bounds of the law??

      Should NZOA start dictating scheduling decisions for broadcasters on other grounds? How about including a clause that no reality show it funds should be shown before midnight? Or that any arts show should be shown in primetime and not during the holiday season?

      Suggesting contractual obligations as a means of achieving what should be determined through political and legal debate – and means – is stunningly reckless of our democracy. Where’s the ‘Democracy Under Attack’ campaign when you really need it?

      This is political pressure – via NZOA – so blatant that it should take the breath away from anyone with a skerrick of concern over political interference in the media. 

      Well done Eddie! (and Tom Frewen).

      • newsense 3.3.1

        The world cup rugby has enough literary appeal for the nation. Nothing else can be considered.

      • tsmithfield 3.3.2

        Lanth: “In the case of child poverty, everything in the documentary was factual.”

        There is a big difference between “factual” and “unbiased” as you should well know. Perhaps you would agree that the documentary was selectively factual.

        Blighty “Do you think it was politically biased and an electoral ad?”

        Not quite so overt as that. More like a subtle “don’t vote NACT” advertorial, rather than promoting a particular party. Probably makes this sort of thing a bit more insidious. At least with propaganda from political parties, people have it clearly flagged and they know to put up their bullshit filters.

        PG “If we want to ban certain kinds of documentaries from airing during the election period it is parliament’s job to legislate.”

        I would agree with that, especially where public money is involved. I pay taxes along with everyone else. I don’t see why my tax money should be used to promote political ideology that I don’t agree with. I expect you would feel the same. However, if you want to fund your own documentary and push to get it televised, then go for it. You will have no argument from me, even if it goes against everything I believe in.

        • You’re correct that coverage can be factual but still be biased, but this usually involves a view from nowhere where people can claim whatever they want and the coverage is only “This person said X.”

          A fact-checked and fact-based documentary cannot be biased, because facts are only biased when they are “reported speech” type facts, not actual real-world phenomena. If the world has a left-wing or right-wing bias, that’s not something you can legislate against, and we should conform our internal beliefs to the external reality where we can accurately establish it.

          If you have some real-world facts that tip the election to your side that you want to air before the election, I say GO FOR IT. The higher the ratio of facts to opinion in election coverage, the better. I do think that documentaries aired on election issues should maintain a high standard of accuracy and excellent methodology, but that makes for a good documentary anyway. 🙂

          • Colonial Viper

            ts version of bias = presenting inconvenient truths for NATs to discuss.

          • tsmithfield

            “A fact-checked and fact-based documentary cannot be biased, because facts are only biased when they are “reported speech” type facts, not actual real-world phenomena.”

            I disagree entirely. I could produce a set of “real-world phenomena”, that when presented in isolation, would give the impression that AGW is not real, that the world is 7000 years old, that evolution is a lie, or that the Americans never landed on the moon.

            Its amazing what it is possible to “prove” if one is selective with the facts presented.

            • newsense

              being selective with the truth can lead to distortions. Are you claiming this happened here?
              No? Good.

              So I quote this paragraph from Bryce Edwards:

              “The political response to this has been very strong, and is best covered in Claire Trevett’s item NZ on Air to stop docos in election lead-up. The agency’s moves are labeled as ‘heavy-handed’, ‘worrying’, and ‘censorship’. Attention is also being focused on the fact that the state agency includes political appointees, such as John Key’s electorate secretary, Stephen McElrea. Hence NZ On Air, which worried about its reputation for political impartiality being tarnished by its funding for the Inside Child Poverty programme by Bryan Bruce, is now ironically being accused of being National Party cronies.”

              Shouldn’t the last line read:

              NZ On Air, which worried about its reputation for political impartiality being tarnished by its funding for the Inside Child Poverty programme by Bryan Bruce, are now being National Party cronies.

            • mik e

              Or that the right wing knows how to run an economy

    • I heard Brian Bruce on News Talk ZB. He said he had deliberately targeted the week before the election for the doco with the intention of changing the way people vote.

      I don’t have any objection to anyone doing this sort of thing. However, I do object to them doing it with public money. After-all, the taxes that pay for this come from people with a wide spectrum of views.

      I can imagine the outcry on this site if the Business Round Table had arranged for an overtly pro-right doco to be aired in the week before the election, whether it was publicly funded or not.

      Don’t you think people SHOULD think carefully before they vote?

      And shouldn’t people think on ALL issues, rather than just what politicians feed us?

      As for pro-right docos – they have been broadcast in the past.

      • tsmithfield 3.4.1

        No problems with that. I just don’t want public money used by documentary makers to push a particular political slant though. Public money being used to fund the promotional activities of political parties sticks in my craw enough now.

        As I said, if you want to fund your own documentary, go ahead and flog it for all its worth.

        • This was not a partisan promotion, though. It was a factual documentary. If the facts presented changed people’s minds, that is because they adjusted their beliefs to better conform to reality, not because of direct campaigning.

          If you have similar issues that strengthen your case, you should absolutely air them, and whenever you bloody well like. Unlike vacuous political advertising, this is genuine and real free speech.

          • Colonial Viper

            apparently reminding people that NZ has serious child poverty issues is “politcally slanted” lol

            I guess we need to also ban reviews of new BMW and Mercedes test drives in the newspaper to stop reminding people that there are riches around here too?

      • mik e 3.4.2

        Shonkey and Media works $44 million reasons to vote National yeah right poverty needs action Key sucking up to impoverished people before 2008 election only to make things worse over 3 years he has to be accountable in any democracy for broken promises, the child poverty rate would be higher if not so many people had gone and continue to go to Australia .
        Key and the right have held back a lot of bad news about the economy releasing it after election.
        Media just report not investigate.

    • Jum 3.5


      The businessrotundtable did have a biased doco as part of pre 2008 election showing on Q and A (or was it pre 2005?)

      Public funding paid for Agenda and then Q and A.

      If ever there was a rightwing political programme with the (if I play the media-whore for Key I might get a knighthood out of it) Paul Holmes, Clare Robinson – where did they find this idiot woman? I can’t believe they replaced Professor Jennifer Curtin a respected political scientist and Therese Arsenau with the bimbo Clare. Studying the programmes makes that obvious. The channel wanted personality opinions to put the greaser monkey Key in a better light than Goff – Goff was not a smile and wave but a serious thinking person. Jennifer Curtin actually had informed and objective opinions to give on the policies.

      I guess the channel is playing to the mass market that has been created through the dumbed down rubbish we get on television now.

      See the pattern emerging here. Crap political comment from crap commenters brought in by the government to give biased commentary favourable towards NAct.

      Then a rightwing radio station allows Key to play pm for free campaigning on the office of prime minister – that is corrupt behaviour.

      Absolutely, this government is seeking to close down any informed debate. The owners of the media and many of the media are actively helping this government.

      • tsmithfield 3.5.1

        I agree with you. The same rules should apply to right wing doco makers as well. I don’t expect that your tax money should be going towards funding ideology you don’t agree with either.

        • Frank Macskasy


          You call child poverty an ideological issue?

          Do you have no sense of outrage whatsoever that poverty exists in a country like ours???

          Unbelievable, TSmithfield. It’s almost as if you don’t want citizens to know what’s happening in our own country.

          When someone sez (with a straight face, I presume) that “there is a big difference between “factual” and “unbiased” ” – then that shows we’re off into la-la land. Yours is the worst case of Orwellian thinking I’ve heard since… since… oh, since the last time I read a right-wingers comments. (With a couple of exceptions.)

          • Colonial Viper

            The Right Wing goal is to stop discussion of any substantial issue so they can get on with the business of ripping off our country in peace.

            • Frank Macskasy

              Instead, ‘Viper, what they’ve done is to give this issue “oxygen”. NZ on Air and Stephen McElrea have given a whole new ‘blast’ of publicity for child poverty issues in this country.

              If McElrea’s actions weren’t so dubious, we should be thanking that prat.

          • tsmithfield

            “When someone sez (with a straight face, I presume) that “there is a big difference between “factual” and “unbiased” ” – then that shows we’re off into la-la land.”

            So, if I presented a documentary showing only poverty to riches cases, (facts) but without referring to those who don’t transition from poverty to riches, you would be happy with that because it is “factual”?

    • Vicky32 3.6

      I can imagine the outcry on this site if the Business Round Table had arranged for an overtly pro-right doco to be aired in the week before the election, whether it was publicly funded or not.

      The Nats don’t seem to realise that their complaint about it is an ‘own goal’ as it amounts to admitting that they are  responsible for child poverty! Otherwise why would they claim that the showing of the doco disadvantaged them?

  4. Tom Gould 4

    And we have yet to hear the ‘teapot tapes’, also censored from the public by the big Tories. When will someone call it what it is? Or would that be extremist? A bit like the envy thing, I guess. Unless you are kicking a wharfie for earning more than the average wage?

  5. John D 5

    Programmes about important issues? I can’t remember seeing anything on the telly about “important issues”.

    X Factor all the way

  6. just saying 6

    Of course this is just part of the story.

    Shutting down Stratos and channel 7 leaves us with only Maori TV, as the last vestige of actual broadcasting journalism, on our screens,most of the time. At least having the MP in government will keep that on air for the foreseeable future.

    National Radio seems to have been cowed into submission.

    People like John (own-goal) Pagani are being used by the media to provide “balanace” to the unremitting right wing framing of what passes for political debate in NZ because (or if you prefer) despite the fact that they provide no challenge to that framing whatsoever.

    Hell in a handbasket here we come.

    • Jilly Bee 6.1

      Spent a week on Norfolk Island recently and apart from the cricket test and being force-fed Bill Lawry’s terrible commentary, watched a bit of ABC 1 and SBS – both excellent public service channels, in the evenings [no daylight saving there]. ABC commercial free, of course – a breath of fresh air. Even Channel 9 which now appears to go under the name of Imparja [indigenous name?] has been showing adverts for affirmative action regarding Aboriginal people – education, hygiene etc, without being condescending.

      • newsense 6.1.1

        huzzah to TV3 and the Gruen show, showing us what can be produced on public broadcasting in first world democracies…

        I know- let’s attack our education system! It’s producing thinkers…

  7. Draco T Bastard 7

    But isn’t it telling that National views a carefully factual and hugely informative documentary to be a threat?

    Yep, the documentary shows fact getting in the way of the RWNJs delusion again and they just can’t have that and so they try to prevent any reporting of fact.

  8. The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 8

    The Brethren “tried to steal” the 2005 election.

    But when the left do it, censorship is the important issue.

    • lprent 8.1

      You don’t think that the Brethren should have left valid addresses (ie not properties rented to others), valid names and who they were doing it on behalf of?

      In other words that the ‘censorship’ they should have followed was the electoral law. The one that was intended to make sure that electoral work was transparent. If they wanted to change that law, then they should have campaigned for it rather than trying to avoid or break it.

      That’s like Whaleoil publishing court suppressed names for increasing his readership and then trying to claim it was a point of principle. I haven’t noticed him actually doing any real work to change the law on suppression have you? Like the brethren, he is simply a hypocrite (as you seem to be yourself in your example).

      Both of those examples are unlawful. What the Nat’s are doing isn’t unlawful. The question is if they should be doing it. That is a question of politics rather than law.

  9. Fotran 9

    It was NOT the contents of the programme.
    It was the poor timing of TV3 who were desperate to get their ratings up as Garner and Toofy had done them no favours over that time. They thought that they were being smart (arsed).
    Not a content problem – just bad timing.

    • Then complain to TV3.

      Why should NZOA take it upon itself to regulate political content in television and radio broadcasts during the election period?

      What makes them think it is fitting for them to take on that responsibility without any legislative guidance to do so?

      And please don’t roll out that lame excuse about protecting their political neutrality – until this farcical, hamfisted attempt to heavy broadcasters occurred I don’t think anyone (including me) thought they were politically compromised by TV3 screening that programme when they did.

      Now, I am tending to think that they are politically biased. What an ‘own goal’. 

      • Puddleglum 9.1.1

        On reflection, it may well be that the NZOA board started to be worried that they were being perceived to be politically biased – by senior National party people, given the shot across the bows delivered by McElrea and the complaint from that other National party person.

        So, perhaps it wasn’t any fear that the public would think them biased, but that their political masters might think them biased that caused them to react the way they have.

        More likely, though, it was just McElrea’s attempt to use any means at hand – i.e., NZOA – to pressure the media during an election period. The supposed fear of being perceived as politically biased was just the best justification for that attempt that anyone could come up with.

        Making the NZOA board look like political stooges in its reaction and so take a hit to its reputation for neutrality (ironically) was just collateral damage.

        As newsense puts it: Appalling. 

        • Anne

          So, perhaps it wasn’t any fear that the public would think them biased, but that their political masters might think them biased that caused them to react the way they have.

          Actually I think that’s spot on. Heard someone from NZOA on Radio NZ a couple of days ago just after the story broke. That was exactly the impression I got from what he had to say. I assume the govt. appoint the board members of NZOA and they are fearful of losing their positions if they don’t side with the govt? Even so, it’s reprehensible behaviour on the part of the govt. and I expect the opposition parties to join forces and scream from the rooftops…

    • Draco T Bastard 9.2

      Wasn’t bad timing at all as the issues do need to be aired during an election. It seems only the people who don’t want the issues to be aired and properly debated that think that the timing was wrong.

  10. newsense 10

    This is apalling.

    The Pm’s electorate secretary on NZ on Air, a former Nat Prime Minister’s chief of staff or whatever you call it running RNZ, stratos gone, funding cuts being held over the political shows before the election, the loan to mediaworks…

    At least it is understandable when you look at Frank in Fiji wanting to be the personality of the year…

    None of those pesky journalists (looking at you Stephenson and Hager) to get in the way, no real public broadcasting or regional broadcasting either.

  11. Maybe there should be no election broadcasting restictions at all. Just let the market decide.

    Advertisers might get to choose which documentaries show imediately prior to the election but that’s just freedom of choice.

    • Silly comparison Petey.  The documentary is not electoral advertising.  Otherwise no tv station could post any sort of news during an election campaign.
      As for your suggestion about there being no election broadcasting restrictions well this would be a good idea if you want the forces of the right and their lackies to have a permanent unfair advantage.
      Ooohhh, so that is why you suggested this …

      • Pete George 11.1.1

        I think you almost get it.

        The lines continue to be blurred between electoral advertising and any way anyone can get around the regulations, along with increasing involvement in media trying to influence rather than just report. It’s getting messier all the time – and may be very difficult to unmess.

        What’s to stop a bunch of ‘independent’ filmmakers doing documentaries and getting them shown in the few days before the election. Allows TV companies to dictate the agenda, and opens up program advertising and sponsorship options that circumvent current regulations.

        There may be no way of controlling it, but I’d prefer documentaries where shown earlier in the campaign to give all parties a chance of responding, especially to inaccuracies in the programs (as there were in the Bruce piece on poverty).

    • Or, Pete – and here’s a wacky, off-the-cuff, idea… National and it’s apparatchiks could keep the hell out of broadcasting and the media, and focus on actually ADDRESSING child poverty in this country?!?!

      Oh, thilly me… what on Earth was I suggesting with that?

      • Pete George 11.2.1

        That’s a separate issue. I don’t think National are doing enough to address ‘poverty’ (I think that’s a misleading and overly simplistic term but it’s being commonly overused) and I’ll be doing what I can to promote seeking solutions on the issue politically, via party and via local poitical lobbying.

        • mik e

          Pompus git all talk and no action You’d make an excellent National cabinet minister

        • mickysavage

          Yep maintaining National’s political superiority is way more important than dealing with child poverty …

          • Pete George

            Whatever hums your tune, but personally I’d rather see both National and Labour lift their game, both play politics far too much.

            What are you doing about poverty and all the associated issues?

            • mickysavage

              Well quite a bit.

              In three or less sentences say what the nats are doing and what Labour did before 2008.  Go on, then we can have a real debate …

        • felix

          I find it hard to believe that someone who puts poverty in quotation marks indicating that they don’t even know it’s a real thing is going to work very hard seeking solutions to it.

          • Pete George

            That’s an odd assumption/accusation.

            The word is too simple for complex problems with many interrelated factors. I thought you would understand that there’s a lot more to it than ‘poverty’.

            I’m working on trying to find some solutions in an online meeting very soon. And I’ll be working on a major local initiative in the weekend that amongst other things will address some of the problems. That will be ongoing. And I will be meeting out of town the following weekend which will include addressing some of these issues then.

            And I’ve regularly (monthly) donated for years towards international aid initiatives.

            What are you doing about it?

            • Colonial Viper

              The word ‘poverty’ is too simple for complex problems with many interrelated factors.

              Oh. So do you normally say ‘love’, and ‘politics’ and ‘investment banking’ too???

              What are you doing about it?

              Undermining everything ‘National’ and ‘United Future’ are attempting. Next.

            • mik e

              Purile git just more talk and no action from you .All the research has been done to death
              your just a shifty little political weasel .
              I have worked for nearly25 years helping those in poverty at the coal face and have never seen you get your hands dirty.
              PG you are just a political opportunist nothing more nothing less.

            • felix

              “I’m working on trying to find some solutions in an online meeting very soon. And I’ll be working on a major local initiative in the weekend that amongst other things will address some of the problems. That will be ongoing. And I will be meeting out of town the following weekend which will include addressing some of these issues then.”

              Someone who doesn’t know anything about meetings would probably think that sounded like you were going to achieve something someday. I do hope they’re catered.

            • mickysavage

              Pete when I see you use the word “complex” I read “I do not understand”.  It explains a lot.

            • Pete George

              There’s a lot of time spent on futile bickering, isn’t there. It’s not very productive.

            • fender

              An online meeting between Dunne and his Pet George should see some dramatic improvements in the rates of poverty in NZ. Thankyou in advance of your fantastic acheivments.

              You are a busy man Mr George, I see you having these “online meetings” daily on the web.

  12. Uturn 12

    My recollections was that it certainly was a bias documentary: fast forward to the conclusions they begin to draw at the end and the style of european domestic policy they used for comparison with NZ’s. Politics mixed with fact, but very particular fact, which doesn’t make the content untrue, but does lead to a conclusion – which was political. At no time did they push the idea that individuals acting alone could solve poverty. Poverty by it’s collective nature is political. It was always about what government could do or should do – it just didn’t state it outright.

    The politics the documentary makers were pushing were the strange kind of half-hearted stuff the Labour party are now embracing. Left-ish, or Slow Right, in that they were concerned about a social issue that has traction, but not so concerned the middle classes should take any of the hits. They very obviously made a sudden swerve away from the obvious conclusion toward the end of their short attempt to outline possible solutions.

    Why National would complain about that is probably because, being a bunch of concieted drones, they no longer have access to the intellect required to analyse anything for fact, especially subtle messages that actually aid them, but only those messages that might hamper them getting public approval for their more overtly destructive delusions. They see only that a program on poverty was aired in an environment where they said everyone was now full bellied, thanks to their promises.

    Beneficiary bashing, for example, is awfully satisfying for the Nats since they know they are the parasites of the nation, not beneficairies. Whip up some self-righteous clap trap against those damn bludgers, public goes along like lemmings to a cliff edge: Everyone works hard, right? Hard day at work? Who wasn’t having a hard day when you were? Those damn bludgers eating cream buns all day! Burn ’em! But the PM and his friends aren’t working men. They have a job, but they aren’t productive. All they have is words, and if it looks like their words don’t correlate to reality, like say, in the instance of child poverty, they’re liars and frauds and liars can’t whip up much self-righteous indignation anymore. Not for political gain, that’s for sure. Joe Public starts to think the PM is a hypocrite and it’s suddenly more difficult to manipulate his ignorance against him.

    The Nats could be brilliant strategists and just be using an example that the public will easily misunderstand, as some unknown link to larger legislative change, but they just aren’t. They like shock tactics – force and power in action – try the teapot tapes fiasco for a recent example. A subtle strategic move would be to use the Soft-Left’s attitude to poverty against itself and as a mask for the Nats true intent. But it doesn’t make people turn toward the Nats in the horrifed awe that quickly becomes the worship of He Who Has the Power To Punish. Punishers quickly attract attention, sneaky strategists take years. National don’t have years.

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      Please don’t give aid and comfort to the enemy.

      • Uturn 12.1.1

        The enemy isn’t National. National are just the shadow on the cave wall. If the Left (Listen to me, the Left? What Left?) think that being socialist is defined by the sensation of “caring” about other people, they are the enemy.

    • Vicky32 12.2

      Those damn bludgers eating cream buns all day

      As one of those bludgers, I just want to say that I’d rather be having a hard day at work! Truly.. I was working at the time the doco was shown – I had a 10 week contract – and am truly upset and feeling very betrayed that it wasn’t renewed… Cream buns? Vile! 😀 (I’d rather have sushi, but them’s the breaks…)

    • Campbell Larsen 12.3

      “The Nats could be brilliant strategists and just be using an example that the public will easily misunderstand, as some unknown link to larger legislative change, but they just aren’t.”

      No not brilliant strategists, just misguided apprentices in the dark art of propaganda and spin, though there is surely someone on a handsome paycheck egging them on with slogans like ‘its for the greater good’.

      However I think the chance of ‘larger leglislative change’ is a given under the Nats V2.0 – As is the methodology – It will be a witchhunt, or rather, hunt(s) – Blame, shame and punish.

      Benificiaries are just one witch on the list, but as we all know, the list is never fully complete

  13. Roy 13

    God forbid that voters actually think about important issues when voting, rather than just who does the smiley-wavey bit the best!

  14. DJL 14

    Phil Goff during the debate offered to make the child poverty issue non partisan, and is my belief that David Shearer offered after the election, but it would seem Key and the nats in general don’t want to know about it. Simon (say anything you want to hear) Bridges sugested that it should be a non partisan issue on backbenchers. Maybe he could have a word to the boss…Tui ad.

    • Colonial Viper 14.1

      National will act to starve Labour of media time oxygen as far as possible, child poverty be damned.

  15. randal 15

    dont speak up.
    you might cause “TROUBLE”.

    • mik e 15.1

      National want mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect but when it comes to its main cause National and its cohorts want this swept under the carpet.
      Its good that this issue has been brought up again.

  16. Nick 16

    National successfully captured the ‘uninformed’ vote in the last election and probably the one before. People who don’t know either way vote National because of John Key.

    As a result they would prefer the election period doesn’t cover election issues at all. Censorship seems like a great way to achieve this.

    But luckily the doco did air, did shock most people who watched it, and is now getting a second round of attention.

    Fonterra are introducing milk back into schools something that the doco brought up. If an environmentally destructive coporate monopoly can do something to help the kids surely politicians who get paid to make the country better can bring themselves to make the country better.

    We can hope, I think its more likely that political interference in the media is only just getting started…

  17. randal 17

    the thing about nashnil and the right wing in general is that they pretend that their mode of existence is some kind of natural law when really it is just a dichotomy of compound interest and the protection of the law coupled with an intense loathing of other human beings.
    Under analysis it presents a very sick picture of humans who unconscioulsly hate others and dont trust anybody else.
    now when capitalism is triumphant it is very hard to fight against the very thing that is destroying the world.
    foul is fair and fair is foul.
    you figure it out.

  18. wtl 18

    Question to all those defending the Stephen McElrea and raising questions as to whether the documentary should have been screened when it did (especially our good friend PeteG):

    Would we all be discussing the issue of child poverty at all if the documentary had not screened?

    In my view, the documentary raised a lot of comment in the media and among the public, helping to raise awareness of this issue. And this was in large part due to WHEN it screened. By screening just before the election, and thereby raising controversy*, it received greater publicity that it would have if it had screened at another time. Surely raising awareness of this issue is a good thing?

    * A form of the Streisand effect I guess.

  19. Jenny 19

    “The worst part of censorship is” …….the lack of democratic debate.

    Censorship is an attack on democracy.

    On this I think we can all agree.

    Good on you Eddie for fighting censorship on all fronts.

    Censorship at Red Alert has been broken!

    Good on Darion Fenton too, at being the first to lift the cone of silence against any mention of the ports of Auckland dispute at Red Alert.

    Congratulations are also in order to the grass roots Labour supporters who kept up the pressure on their party machine to break this ban.

    The Dam has burst!

    Darien has been the first to do it. But now that the cone of silence has been lifted, I expect to see more posts and comments on this struggle at Red Alert from other MPs as events unfold.

    Following Darian’s courageous defiance of the gagging order, imposed on Labour MPs on this issue at Red Alert, other Labour MPs are now free to express an opinion on this issue. (Which will lift Red Alert’s popularity.)

    We will hear from other Labour MPs, especially those owe their presence in parliament to the union movement, expressing their support for the wharfies. And maybe even from some of those who like Eddie, are opposed to siding with the wharfies as well. ( I suspect the latter will be in the minority)

    I look forward to hearing from MPs comments on this struggle.

    And we owe it all to Eddie. If he hadn’t been outspoken with his views none of this would have seen the light of day. By laying out in writing what is in effect Labour’s policy towards the wharfies. He actually broke the Labour Party censorship around discussing this issue.

    Keep up the good work Eddie. Let’s continue to keep the channels of communication open.

    • Colonial Viper 19.1

      Following Darian’s courageous defiance of the gagging order, imposed on Labour MPs on this issue at Red Alert, other Labour MPs are now free to express an opinion on this issue.

      Uh…a very upbeat assessment…whoah there was a gagging order imposed on Labour MPs?

      1) If the ‘gagging order’ was officially lifted allowing MPs to post on the PoA dispute on RA, why did you apply the term “courageous”?

      2) Or are you saying that Fenton’s actions are courageous because of her “defiance” against a standing gagging order. Which has in fact, not been lifted.

      We will hear from other Labour MPs, especially those owe their presence in parliament to the union movement, expressing their support for the wharfies. And maybe even from some of those who like Eddie, are opposed to siding with the wharfies as well. ( I suspect the latter will be in the minority)

      If a voting majority of Labour MPs supported coming out publicly in favour of strike action by MUNZ it would have become the official Labour position. A statement supporting the right of labour to strike in this dispute, would have been released. That’s how caucus works, by a democratic vote.

      It hasn’t happened though, has it.

      There’s a lot going on in the background here. Something tells me that powder is being kept dry for something. Lets hope its not used too late, however.

  20. Anne 20

    There’s a lot going on in the background here. Something tells me that powder is being kept dry for something. Lets hope its not used too late, however.

    I think the Labour caucus meets for the first time next week. Perhaps that is why there has been no official statement yet. We can expect ‘something’ to happen around mid week?

    Incidently, where did this claim that Labour MPs had been gagged come from? It’s a nonsense. I heard Phil Twyford doing a damm good job rubbing the PoA executives’ noses in it on Radio NZ this morning. The MPs have been on their summer holidays too!

  21. The Electoral Commission has cleared TV3 of any breach. Unsurprising, really, as the Electoral Commission is a truly independent body, without government flunkies controlling and pulling strings.

    Bryan Bruce is spot on: NZ On Air owes TV3 an apology.

    And it’s now time for Stephen McElrea to resign his position from the board of NZ On Air. His position is no longer tenable:

    I hope folks write to the Broadcasting Minister on this matter. We cannot permit this kind of cronyism from attempting to censor our media.

    Email address for Broadcasting Minister Craig Foss:

  22. If you want to talk about Censorship, you need to talk to the biggest censor this country has ever had. Marion Hobbs. She may of not been the film censor, but her whole career as a teacher/politican was about censorship, no other view got through or would be allowed to go through, except her commie views.

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    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
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  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
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  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
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  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
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  • The coming resource war.
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  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
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  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
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  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
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  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    2 weeks ago

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