Sometimes, the throw-away comments a person makes are the most revealing – for example, Bill English’s attitude towards the “punters” and towards John Key, both made as side comments in the secret agenda tapes, are in some ways more revealing than his substantive comments on Working for Families and Kiwibank. And it was a throw-away comment by Rawdon Christie on today’s Agenda that gave an insight into the way the media views politics.
Having just interviewed Commerce Minister Lianne Daziel on the finance company collapses (which he said affected $5.6 billion in investments and 175,000 investors), Christie then turned to the panellists and said ‘now, back to the more serious issue of Winston Peters’. Says it all really. On one hand, we’ve got a commercial sector suffering a major confidence crisis that is dragging under good companies with the bad, we’ve got about 5% of Kiwis who have lost or stand to lose substantial amounts of money, and we’ve got three bills before Parliament designed to fix an important part of our financial markets. On the other, we’ve got a Minister suspended from his portfolios, and he and his party under investigation, and could see them face charges for fraud but, more likely, for failing to properly declare donations. This event in no way affects the actual lives of ordinary people. The Government is stable, legislation like the ETS will still pass, the ministries will continue functioning and delivering their services to New Zealand as if nothing has happened. It may all lead to NZF not returning to Parliament after the election but, unless it changes which party lead the Government, even that will have a negiligible effect on people’s lives.
It’s a bizarre world view that finds the suspension of a minister more important than the state of the financial sector and related government policy. It’s a world view that sees politics as about personalities, not how government should be used to improve the lives of people. It’s a ‘big-man’, as opposed to ‘materialist’, view of society. A view that comes from having a press gallery that is detached from the concerns of everyday people. Unfortunately, it seems to be the worldview through which the mainstream media analyses politics most of the time.