The deafening silence

Written By: - Date published: 9:54 am, February 25th, 2008 - 29 comments
Categories: john key, national, workers' rights - Tags: , ,

At a meeting in Kerikeri last year with a business leader, in the presence of journalist Greg Robertson, National Leader John Key said we would love to see wages drop‘.

When this story broke last week, the political commentators were naturally cautious. It is an extraordinary quote. Not because a National leader would think wages should fall, everyone knows rightwing parties favour lower wages for workers and higher profits, but because a National leader would let himself be caught on tape saying it. This quote is the single most important public statement by a National politician in many years. Because of this, the political commentators erred on the side of believing the report to be false.

But their suspicion should have been raised by National’s multiple and contradictory defences of the quote ‘he never said that’, ‘he was joking’, ‘he was talking about Australia’, ‘he is misquoted’. All of which amount to an unwarranted attack on Mr Robertson, an experienced and respected reporter.

Strangely, the political commentary not only accepted these excuses at face value (can you imagine them doing that over Owen Glenn?) but, now, Tracy Watkins has invented an entirely new excuse for National: it was ‘a slip of the tongue‘. Watkins needs to realise her job is not to invent new excuses for Key. At no point has National said that what came out of Key’s mouth was not his intended words, it has only offered explanations for the resulting quote that don’t stack up. There is no slip of the tongue. All evidence anyone has seen is that Key meant what he said about New Zealand wages, and was quoted correctly in context.

Key says he would love to see your wages drop.

It is time the political commentators examine this issue properly.

29 comments on “The deafening silence”

  1. the sprout 1

    it’s to be expected as part of corporate media’s war on Labour/campaign for National.

    the rules are:

    anything that sounds like it could damage Labour – print it anyway, when it later turns out to be yet another beat-up chimera of a story, the public won’t remember what you said exactly anyway – and who’s going to remind them? not the msm.

    anything that sounds like it could damage National – print it only if not doing so will make you look bad, and if you do print demand evidence beyond all reasonable doubt, including documentation, video and audio recordings, and a signed and witnessed satutory oath.

  2. James Kearney 2

    Did you guys see Colin Espiner’s bullshit excuse for not running the story? Apparently Labour’s been trying to foist a “partial transcript” on him and that’s not good enough… except that no partial transcript exists. I usually have a lot of respect for Espiner but I’m starting to wonder why he’d make something like that up.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/blogs/politics/2008/02/21/why-labour-is-worried-about-owen-glenn-2/#comments

  3. John 3

    Yes Yes it’s all clearly a plot by big business, the National Party and the media.

    Has the alternative that it’s a non story ever occured to you. Come on Standard move on a find something worthwhile to cover.

  4. Steve Pierson 4

    But James. Colin also said that a Prime Minister can’t bring down wages (therefore, Key can’t have said that he would love to see them drop). Considering we saw wages drop after National introduced the ECA, I guess that says something about Colin.

  5. Historian 5

    I don’t actually have a problem with the media wanting evidence and substance. In fact it would make a pleasant change.

    But it’s one thing to be sceptical about a party’s press releases or a leftie blog, it’s quite another to dismiss and denigrate an independent newspaper that stands by its story.

    “The Northern Advocate, also publishers of the Bay Report ran the transcript of the question (by Kerikeri District Business Association President Carolyne Brooks-Quan) and Mr Key’s irrefutable answer in yesterday’s (Saturday February 23) paper.”

    That’s pretty damning.

  6. the sprout 6

    Historian, see “the rules” above

  7. Santi 7

    “Campaigning in a safe National seat like Helensville is a challenge, but I’m always up for a good fight,’ says Ms Fenton.

    So far, so good.

    But then this “corageous” MP gives the game away and shows what his made of: Darien Fenton will also be standing for Labour’s 2008 List.

    Not so brave after all, uh?

  8. deemac 8

    the contrast with the furore over the Glenn non-story is illuminating

  9. Tane 9

    Santi, please try to stay on topic.

  10. Ex Labour Voter 10

    IrishBill says: Ah yes trying to smear us on our own blog. Good idea ELV. You’re banned for a month.

  11. Camryn 11

    Repeat this posting 10 times, and maybe it will come true!

    Captcha: Helen con

  12. Steve Pierson 12

    r0b. I imagine every political jounralist in the country is trying to get hold of the transcript. And Key alluded to trying to get hold of it in his ramble here: http://www.thestandard.org.nz/?p=1204

  13. mike 13

    Time to stop fologging this dead horse Steve.
    Its not going to fly. The polls are the big news politially – have you seen them?
    Understatement of the year so far “Prime Minister Helen Clark has acknowledged Labour has “work to do” http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10494404

  14. Steve Pierson 14

    mike. Would a live horse fly?

  15. Ag 15

    Of course there is silence. The supposedly objective press have decided that National is going to win, much as the press in the US have decided that Obama will beat Hillary. These hacks are quite adept at simply ignoring evidence when it doesn’t suit them.

    Perhaps it is too much to hope that the New Zealand papers will do as the Guardian has and allow comments to op-ed pieces.

    National will probably win the election, since the government has had three terms. That’s normal. The problem is that New Zealand doesn’t have a decent opposition, and thus will have to settle for three years of predictable National brainlessness.

  16. r0b 16

    “The Northern Advocate, also publishers of the Bay Report ran the transcript of the question (by Kerikeri District Business Association President Carolyne Brooks-Quan) and Mr Key’s irrefutable answer in yesterday’s (Saturday February 23) paper.’

    Interesting. I hope The Standard is able to get hold of this transcript.

  17. mike 17

    “mike. Would a live horse fly?”
    As much as JK would cut wages

  18. Phil 18

    Steve, perhaps you’ve heard of “Occams Razor”? – in complex situations, the least complex answer is normally right (See Conpernicus’ work on celestial motion for a really good example)

    The reason I bring this up is that I have to agree with the MSM; such a comment is so bizzare that the simplest explanation is that it must be misquoted.
    I also don’t buy Shane Jones argument that the Nat’s are attacking the Northern Advocate. Saying that a well respected journalist never m,akes a mistake is on a parr with claiming Tiger Woods never slices a ball into the tree-line. Sure, it doesn;t happen often, but it does happen.

  19. the sprout 19

    i’m all for Occam’s Razor Phil.
    the simplest explanation for Key saying what he did is that he meant it.
    simple enough for you? or is “Key saying what he meant” too complex and implausible a proposition?

  20. Phil 20

    If Key was quoted as saying “I want to cut taxes for the rich” then yes, the simplest explanation would be that he meant what he said, because supporting evidence lends veracity to it.

    Being quoted as saying he would love to see wages drop (…of NZ’ers, in nominal terms) is inconsistent with all the previous talk about raising our game in productivity, and closing the gap with Australia.

  21. James Kearney 21

    Phil- that inconsistency between what he’s been saying and what he’s been doing is why there’s a story. He’s been telling New Zealanders he wants higher wages while his party votes against workers, has policies that will make workers poorer and has a history of making wages fall. We should judge a man by his actions, and by that standard he’s been lying to the public.

  22. r0b 22

    Repeat this posting 10 times, and maybe it will come true!

    Maybe. After some initial interest I haven’t been all that convinced by this story. It just seems like such a phenomenally stupid thing to say.

    But read Historian’s post above. A transcript exists (so probably also a tape exists), and the newspaper stands by it. I for one would be interested in seeing that transcript. Then we can make up our own minds eh?

  23. the sprout 23

    as ISR muses here

    http://tonymilne.blogs.com/i_see_red/2008/02/a-question.html

    lowering wages and opposing the labour movement is absolutely a fundamental plank of National’s raison detre.
    you see Phil, lowering wages has the same efffect for National’s core constituency as cutting “taxes for the rich” as you say – increasing private profits

  24. r0b 24

    r0b. I imagine every political jounralist in the country is trying to get hold of the transcript.

    Ahh Steve, if only that was true!

  25. Irish Bill/Mike, you guys seem to be a little touchy about smears, fortunately I got a screens hot of the supposed smear that clearly wasn’t given the overwhelming proof that exists of the clear and undeniable link between Labour and The Standard.

    it seems you are following your masters in suppressing the views of those whose dissenting opinions you are not fond of.

    Meanwhile you practice exactly the same tactics against John Key with a frequency that borders on Derangement.

    There is a word for that and it starts with “H”

    To make me laugh even more the captch was “proxy foul”

  26. AncientGeek 26

    Phil: There are two ways of raising productivity.

    One way is to increase the value of goods and services produced relative to the wages. This requires capital investment and better management by managers. It is relatively hard.

    The other way is to reduce wages. This simply reduces the divisor. It doesn’t decrease the wage gap relative to aussie, but it does ‘raise’ productivity. It is an extremely lazy way to change the productivity ratio as it is a short-term fix. But it does fit previous national party government operations in the 1990’s. You can argue about the intent, but that is what they achieved.

    There are two ways in the current labour market to reduce wages. One is to increase immigration to increase the supply of employees. The other is increase the power of the bargaining position of employers compared to employees. Both were done in the 1990’s.

    It may have been a slip of the tongue by Key, but it has to be taken seriously because it fits exactly the Nats previous handling of the economy.

    Looking at the next post, it is clear that Key said what has been claimed, and in a context that was about dropping wages in NZ. At this point I have to consider that the MSM are lacking in credibility.

    cap: Miss Reuters

  27. Daveo 27

    Yes Whale- IrishBill is Mike Williams. Well done old chap. Broadcast that screenshot to the world mate.

  28. randal 28

    strange about National…supposed to be the party of business but they dont seem to be able to suggest new businesses..why is this?

  29. Phil 29

    AG,

    I don’t think your understanding productivity is the same as mine. As I understand it, the nominal ‘price’ of an input (be it Wage/Salary or interest on CapEx) is not really that important to calculating if something is more productive or not, and the same goes with the revenue for output.

    I was under the impression that productivity, asa measure, is about real input and output; what real quantity of “stuff” do we get for areal input of labour (eg; an hour worked)?

    An example; if we hold everything else constant, but dairy prices skyrocket, a nominal measure of productivity in ag sector (the dollar value of output vs input costs) goes up.
    Is that more productive in real terms? No, we’re just deluding ourselves we’re more productive.

    Same goes for lower wages. If (and this is a really esoteric case, since nominal wages are sticky downwards) we cut wages, but hold everything else constant, what happens to real productivity? Again, the answer is no, it doesn’t increase.

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