Agenda this morning showed, in several ways, that if you want to ask difficult questions, you have to know your topic. Guyon Espiner gave a comprehensive lesson in the dangers of only knowing the media hype on a topic, not the actual detail. Defence Minister Phil Goff, frankly, made mince meat of Guyon’s attempts to attack the state of the military simply because Guyon’s line was limited to the â€˜can’t fly, can’t float, can’t fight’ sensationalism, whereas Goff’s responses drew on a deep knowledge of the topic.
Also interesting was the introduction of the fact-checking segment. I whole-heartedly welcome this. A large part of what The Standard does is bust myths by providing the facts behind the hype. We have been saying for ages that National’s opportunistic attacks on the Government over emigration are dishonest because they misrepresent the Stats. As the fact-checking post-grads at Auckland Uni said, current emigration levels are within the norm for the last thirty years.*
As one of the Agenda panelists said, this basic fact-checking is something that journalists should have been doing all along. Indeed, it is something that The Standard and other blogs have been doing all along and I think that’s a big part of their popularity. Now, it would be interesting to see Agenda and the rest take it forward to the next obvious questions: â€˜why would National choose to make this particular dishonest attack of all possible ones?’ and â€˜do they actually have any solution to the supposed problem?’
The first answer is they choose migration because they are dog-whistling ( â€˜all â€˜us’ white Kiwis are leaving and being replaced by â€˜them’ Asians). If asked the second question, Key would say â€˜well, we’re going to offer tax cuts’ but is that an answer? Even if National can offer another 20 a week to workers, that’s only a 2.5% increase in after-tax income on the average wage. Does Key really think he can afford $20 a week more for the average worker? And does he really think people emigrate because of $20 a week?
Now they know the questions to ask, will anyone ask him?
*[the uni students also concluded that the Nat line â€˜Labour has no policies’ is correct, which is stupid. First, we know what Labour stands for, it will be going into this election arguing for the same policy direction that it has pursued for 9 years. Secondly, the Government has just passed a dozen laws and has another dozen in the pipeline. Thirdly, Labour has equivalents to core National election policies – Schools Plus vs Youth Guarantee, legislated tax cuts vs National’s. Fourthly, we know Labour will release an actual election manifesto, whereas National has some bullet points]