It is beginning to feel like the media, or at least New Zealand Media and Entertainment, has it in for the Government.
They have never been supportive. Just listen to or read Mike Hosking on a good day.
But the wall to wall noise recently emanating from NZME outlets is something that Rupert Murdoch would be proud of.
Clearly there is a culture crash, between a Government wanting to do its best for the country and loud aggressive rich people insisting that business interests have to be priortised.
If you think this is far fetched then consider this recent interchange between Chris Hipkins and Mike Hosking:
Hipkins – We have the lowest mortality rate in the OECD.
Hosking – Correct. BUT AT WHAT COST?
Let that sink in. If New Zealand had matched the United States or the United Kingdom’s performance over ten thousand kiwis would now be dead. If we had matched the performance of even advanced nations with good health systems such as Denmark that would have cost three thousand kiwi lives.
And the cost?
Significant disruption to the Tourism industry but these are low paying jobs that do not contribute heavily to the country’s economy.
The fact that unemployment is at 3.1% and tax takes have increased beyond expectations suggests that the economy is doing fine.
Recent publicity concerning Charlotte Bellis has been used to bludgeon the Government but when you think about it this was strange. Within days and with Ministerial intervention the story went from an urgent application could be considered but normally she should be trying to leave the country of origin within 14 days to MIQ slot found. Allegations of cruelty are completely overblown and some gratitude on her part would be welcome.
The change in MIQ policy should come as no surprise. It was announced last December and only put on hold because of the threat of the Omicron wave overwhelming the country’s health system.
But the wall to wall sound this week has been unmistakable. And the problem is that the opinion pieces are not only things that invite disagreement but they are each factually wrong.
Like the Heather Du Plessis Allan piece that said that the Government’s announced unemployment insurance scheme was a breach of their no new tax policy. The problem with this is if she had actually read Labour’s policies she would have seen that they campaigned on introduction of this scheme.
I've seen a bit of commentary accusing Labour of breaking a 'no new taxes' election promise with the income insurance scheme. This is simply incorrect.
See the 2020 Revenue policy, which explicitly mentions the social insurance scheme: pic.twitter.com/HWqAmbUyzN
— Neale Jones (@nealejones) February 2, 2022
Or Kate Hawkesby’s latest hit piece which is beyond embarrassing and is tragic. Imagine thinking that a well choreographed gradual change to the border policy was awkward for the Government.
Or Barry Soper’s claim that Covid will be the Government’s undoing, and especially his claim that Omicron was “little more than a bad cold at worse [sic]”. If Omicron is less severe then why is the world’s Covid death rate increasing?
Or Mike Hosking’s claim that our inflation rate of 5.9% is way worse than most countries. According to the latest OECD comparison it is eighteenth out of 38 OECD countries but what role do facts have in Mike’s interviews?
One aspect of the Herald that particularly irks me is not the use of National Party propagandist and occasional Standard reader Matthew Hooton whose latest efforts, to equate Jacinda Ardern to Rob Muldoon is that comical, that I struggle to understand how they could ever print it.
But the past twelve months it has printed repeated attack opinion pieces by Ian Taylor He has that uber confidence born of the privileged wealthy vibe about him and he clearly thinks that his talent in doing the graphics for Hobbit movies somehow makes him an expert on pandemics. Only rich white males would be that out of touch with reality that they would think this.
His posts have continuously criticised the Government’s Covid response, world beating it may be.
He said in November:
In my next column I will address the question of trust. We gave you [Jacinda Ardern] that trust when this began, have you done enough to keep it?
Fancy thinking that the Prime Minister had to account to him and his mates and not to the country. This article also suffered from that rather major problem in that it was factually inaccurate. He said about the emergence of Omicron:
[A]re you still confident that your single focus on vaccination as being the answer to keeping us safe is going to see you adhering to that April deadline, or will we see another shift in plans because you haven’t addressed our best line of defence – testing?
I wish he would make his mind up. MIQ has been an integral part of protection from an early stage and the traffic light system is firmly in place. And public health recommendations on mask wearing, hand washing and maintaining distance have been accepted by the population at large.
He thinks that RAT tests are the perfect response to a Covid outbreak. That everything will be fine as long as we have lots and lots of tests, even though their accuracy is often not great and even though this requires all humans to do the right thing, something which the history of humanity suggests is an overly optimistic assumption.
The past week things descended into pathos. In an as yet unknown way Taylor may have facilitated the ordering of RAT tests from Kudu Spectrum. The orders are in place and the tests are being delivered. But he clearly thinks that he is the Bilbo Baggins of the story. I presume that he thinks that Jacinda Ardern is Sauron.
Things became comical this week when using all the extraordinary publication resources of the Herald he accused the Government of trying to muzzle him.
On Friday in a conference call to discuss a self-isolation programme that I had sent to MBIE two weeks ago, I was stunned by Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall’s opening line that only the Government or a Government-approved agency could communicate anything to do with the proposal from here on, and that “Sir Ian” was to refrain from writing “bad faith” articles for the Herald.
Given that everyone else in the meeting was either a government official or already part of a government group, it was clear these pre-meeting conditions were aimed solely at me.
Wow who would have thought that the Government would have wanted to keep confidential commercial details involving potentially the expenditure of tens of millions of Crown dollars?
Minister Ayesha Verrall has said in response:
“On Friday I met with Sir Ian Taylor and Air New Zealand to discuss pre-departure testing.
“As is routine with commercially sensitive discussions, and reflecting the fact that future Government decisions may need to be made, it was agreed by all parties, other than Sir Ian that confidentiality would need to be observed.
“I made it clear to Sir Ian that within those bounds he was free to continue to publicly question and criticise the Government.
“Our work with Air New Zealand on this matter is ongoing.”
Taylor’s output has been voluminous and placed prominently by the Herald. It has similar characteristics to Chris Bishop’s output, is completely negative and not once has it celebrated that our death rate is a four thousandth that of England’s. And the underlying assumptions, that business knows best and should have greater say is a recipe for disaster, as the performance of Australia, the United States, England and Brazil amongst others shows.
The overwhelming impression is that NZME is on a mission to change the Government and is engaging in completely overblown hyperbole to create a feeling of despair. How the Government responds to this will be a measure of how well it does in the next election.