Governing for all NZ

September 23, 2014

Prime Minister-elect John Key said in his victory speech he wants to govern for all New Zealand:

“I will lead a Government that will govern for all New Zealanders” was a quote from Mr Key’s acceptance speech that stood out for many.

“I wrote the speech that was delivered on Saturday night because I wanted them to be my words and it was how I felt,” says Mr Key.

That is what every government should do.

The criticism that National only cares about the wealthy is nothing more than left-wing rhetoric.

One of its strengths is economic management but that isn’t the end, it’s the means to affording the services and infrastructure which benefit all of us.

The people who are hurt the most by poor management and sluggish or negative growth are the most vulnerable.

“There will be some New Zealanders who say, ‘Well, he may have made a difference, but not positively to my life.”

To them Mr Key says “[We in National] have certainly tried our best to do that”.

But he knows he must now carve his legacy.

“Helen Clarke will be remembered for the Cullen Fund or the Working For Families,” he says. “If it all ends on Saturday night, I would like to be remembered for leadership around the Christchurch earthquakes and [getting through] the global financial crisis.”

Robert Muldoon’s ambition, “to leave the country in no worse shape than I found it”, Mr Key describes as having an incredibly low ambition.

“I want to leave the country in better shape than I found it,” he says. . .

We were already in recession and facing a decade of deficits when National won the 2008 election.

National has us back on track to surplus just six years later in spite of the GFC and the earthquakes.

These quotes were taken from an interview by John Campbell which you can watch at the link above.

It was a very good interview which allowed the PM to answer questions without interruptions and viewers to form their opinions on what was said.

Why on earth didn’t we have that sort of interview during the election campaign?

 

 


Making mockery of marriage

September 21, 2014

This appalls and saddens me:

Two best mates married each other at Eden Park this morning in a radio station promotion which rewards them with a trip to the Rugby World Cup.

Travis McIntosh and Matt McCormick, both heterosexual men, tied the knot as winners of the Edge’s Love You Man competition.

The best mates from Dunedin beat 200 other bromance couples around New Zealand to walk down the aisle at Eden Park. . .

Marriage vows are supposed to be taken seriously.

Marriage is, as the traditional service says,  not by any to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly . . .

Marriage  isn’t something you do for a radio station stunt.

I’m a celebrant and I would refuse to take a ceremony for a couple if I had any reason to doubt their intentions and commitment to each other and their marriage.

 

 

 


Policy matters

August 21, 2014

Wayne Mapp asks: So is this going to be the first policy-free election?

One would hope not. We are still getting over the aftermath of the GFC of 2008-2011. The inequality debate is directly stimulated by that event. Christchurch has still got a lot of rebuilding to do, with all the different choices that implies.

But over the last week any substantive policy issues were virtually drowned out. How many people know about the Greens’ child and welfare policies, or National’s cycling announcement? And without actually looking it up, I could not think of what Labour has promised in the past week. On checking, it was free doctors’ visits for those over 65.

But that is the problem with non-party actors attempting to hijack election news; it crowds out the policies that will actually be the basis of governing the country. And if people can’t recall the policies of the parties due to their naturally limited bandwidth, they are more likely to revert to their general sense of which party they will support. Of course many would say that is a good enough basis to decide how to vote, but it rather makes a mockery of election campaigns and the manifesto commitments each party makes. . .

Yesterday two people who know I’m active in the National Party opened a conversation about the election.

Both said they had no interest in the side shows, both wanted to know more about policy.

Policy matters but most never gets reported and even less gets serious analysis.


TV3 cancels all-leaders debate

August 15, 2014

TV3 has cancelled a debate planned for all political leaders because neither John Key nor David Cunliffe would participate.

If memory serves me right this happened before with Helen Clark and John Key and I think they are right to decline to appear.

It wouldn’t be a debate it would be a farce.

It was difficult enough to get much from the debate with the leaders of the wee parties when they were all vying for attention, adding another couple would only add to the chaos.

MMP requires coalitions but it also requires a major party to lead them.

Putting the leaders of those two head to head could be instructive. Viewers would see the Prime Minister matched with the man who wants to replace him.

Having all the leaders would generate noise and heat but little else.

The debate might be entertaining but it’s unlikely to make a helpful contribution to the democratic process.

 


Craig’s injunction blocks debate

August 8, 2014

Colin Craig has won an interim injunction against TV3 after it refused to include him in a debate between leaders of the minor parties:

. . . Leaders from ACT, United Future, the Greens, the Maori Party, NZ First and Mana are scheduled to appear in the 34-minute debate. 

“The debate this weekend is part of a series of more targeted debates running on The Nation, and involves minor parties who have seats in Parliament and have been in Government or Opposition during the past three years,” a TV3 spokesperson said this morning. 

Mr Craig’s lawyer, John McKay, said his client had been excluded from a “vital part of democracy”.  

“It’s about voters,” Mr McKay told the court.

He said it was “extraordinary that TV3 had chosen leaders to appear on the debate based on their place in Parliament from the last election, rather than current polls”. 

Part of the issue was the show’s studio could only accommodate six lecterns for leaders, not seven, meaning there wouldn’t be enough space for Mr Craig. A wide shot can also only accommodate six people, as can the studio’s lighting. 

“There must be a trade-off between comfort and the importance of the occasion,” Mr McKay argued. 

TV3 lawyer Daniel McLellan acknowledged Mr Craig had a right to be included in televised debates in the heat of the election campaign, but tomorrow’s minor debate was not that important. 

Mr McLellan said it was “not likely to have a significant impact on the 2014 general election”, and media have a right to decided what is newsworthy without having it “dictated” to them. . .

I don’t like the idea of politicians dictating what media does and how it does.

But when TV3’s lawyer admitted Craig had a right to be included he weakened his case for his exclusions considerably.

It might only be political tragics who are fully engaged in the election campaign.

But it is only six weeks to polling day.


Gotcha doesn’t get voters

July 29, 2014

John Armstrong writes on the disease of gotcha politics:

It sure ain’t pretty. It sure ain’t enlightening. It is most definitely insidious. It is a creeping cancer of the New Zealand body politic.

Regardless of whether it is John Key or David Cunliffe who has the numbers on election night to pick up the reins of power, so-called “gotcha politics” is almost guaranteed to be the big winner of the 2014 election campaign.

If it is voters will be the losers.

“Gotcha politics” is all about focusing voters’ attention on the gaffes and mistakes of opponents rather than trying to win the election by winning the battle of ideas.

It is personality-based politics, not issue-driven politics. It is all about wrecking your opponents’ campaign by landing major hits on their credibility.

It is also negative.

That’s what makes Labour’s exhortation to vote positive so oxymoronic because they’ve spent so much of this parliamentary term being so negative.

At its worst, gotcha politics can be an old-fashioned witch-hunt dressed up in modern-day notions of accountability. None of this new, of course.

What has changed is the extent and intensity of gotcha politics.

Even the Greens are not immune. Last Friday, that party joined others in stressing its campaign would focus on the issues, rather than the sideshows.

Was this the same Green Party whose co-leader Metiria Turei had spent much of the week demanding a prime ministerial apology for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs blunder regarding the granting of diplomatic immunity to a defence attache at the Malaysian High Commission charged with sexual assault?

No matter that various apologies had already been forthcoming. No matter that the State Sector Act and the Cabinet Manual set clear boundaries to prevent ministers interfering in operational matters – thereby begging the question of exactly what John Key was supposed to be apologising for. No matter that the Greens had politicised the whole affair to the point of jeopardising the prosecution of the Malaysian official.

When politicians get ahead of the judicial process justice for both the victim and the accused are the losers.

It is unfair to single out the Greens. Both National and Labour are just as guilty, if not more so. National’s being in Government makes it more likely to be a target of such attacks, however.

One reason “gotcha politics” is becoming more endemic is that Key has neutralised so many issues that Opposition parties are having to resort to personality-based attacks to make any kind of impact.

It’s the Opposition’s role to hold a government to account but it should be able to do that on issues rather than personalities.

If it can’t then it is not ready for government.

The other major factor is conflict-driven news media. The seemingly insatiable 24-hours-a-day appetite of internet news sites means quality has to be sacrificed for quantity when it comes to investigations and analysis.

In these circumstances, it is temptingly easier to manufacture the news through the media playing their own version of gotcha politics by trying to catch politicians out.

And an election campaign provides the happiest of all hunting grounds for such practices.

I am sure this is one of the reasons so many people are disenchanted with politics and that voter turnout is dropping.

Serious analysis and intelligent debate of issues has been replaced by a focus on personalities and sideshows.

Gotcha politics might be entertaining but it doesn’t get the majority of voters, on the contrary it turns many off.

 


Story behind story behind picture

July 26, 2014

The picture on the cover of Rugby News has caused a bit of controversy this week.

 

 

The editor explained the story behind the picture and the story on Facebook:

Dear readers,

Given the media exposure around the current edition featuring John Key – in the spirit of openness, I wanted to explain the thinking and reasoning behind the WHOLE process and be totally upfront about ALL aspects.
Firstly – as owner/editor, I am not aligned to the National Party in any way. I am undecided who my vote will go to. Rugby New standpoint (and mine) is that we are not wanting ,or trying, to endorse a candidate or party.

WHY THE ARTICLE?

Firstly – I think if you have any kind of opinion worth listening to you need to read the article too and put it in to context with the front cover.
Over the last 7-8 months, of me putting stories together, I have often come across popular pictures of the PM in the All Blacks changing room, after winning a game. The picture of the PM and Richie having a beer was one. I thought – from an editorial viewpoint – that this was an interesting picture and the seed for an article.
Some of my thoughts were: “Lucky bugger – how cool would that be having a beer with Richie and being in the changing room”. Closely followed by – “How come he gets that and everyday supporters don’t.” Unfair maybe, but that’s how things work.
From there I began thinking that like the PM, or loathe him, he does seem like a genuine rugby fan and obviously a proud Kiwi. This was the start point for the article, but I didn’t want that to be the main aspect.
The main aspect of the article was to see how big the All Blacks brand was overseas from our elected leader’s standpoint – not something that we would know about necessarily. Are we just big in NZ and rugby playing countries? Are we big, just in knowledgeable sporting circles, or does the All Blacks winning brand extend to business/politics in countries that weren’t large rugby nations? In short, the All Blacks brand and how global it is. I imagined that many Kiwi’s may not realise how big-a-deal the AB’s were globally – especially in non-rugby mad countries – and if they did, isn’t it nice to be that respected and in that position?
These two aspects underwrote the article content. It does state that ‘whatever your politics.’ Nowhere did it glorify the PM as a leader, nor did it mention the General Election, or National Party.
As such we wrote an interesting article. I stand by its journalistic credibility as one of a number of rugby themed stories that some people would identify with more than others.

THE FRONT COVER:

The front cover came about through a synergy of ideas. As the issue was about the Rugby Championships, it HAD to have the All Blacks on it. Another article (by Craig Dowd) highlighted the importance of the forwards in the Championship. Hence, the choice of all forwards in the cover picture. We also wanted the PM on the cover issue as having him in the magazine – regardless of his/you/our politics – was something of a coup.
The poses struck were showing the players in a ‘V’ shape – this was to symbolise ‘Victory’. Having the PM at the front of the V (in his supporters jersey) was symbolising all NZ rugby fans – from the lowest/youngest right up to the PM – were right behind our All Blacks, as they went for a world record of wins and in to the (very hard) Rugby Championships.
The title ‘Pack Leader’ was a play on words for the player i/c the forwards in a team and the ‘leaders’ being Richie McCaw (AB’s) and the PM.
#1 All Blacks fan – I am sure people would look at that and think ‘He’s not the number one fan, I am!’ This aspect was about getting people’s attention.
In truth what we set up to do was to produce what, on the face of it, appeared to be a typical, traditional Rugby News cover. What we were looking for is – as people walked through Whitcoull’s – they would walk past and glance, do a double-take, come back and then pick up the magazine to check it out and hopefully buy it. All magazine covers aim to try to draw people in and that is what we were trying to do here beyond our regular, staunch, rugby intelligent customers.

THE TIMING

This is the area where – in retrospect – I will concede some journalistic naevity in this regard and also apologise to anyone who was offended. Certainly not what I wanted. I am passionate about rugby at all levels and only interested in the development of the game at all levels and the New Zealand Rugby/All Blacks brand and value.
We started work on the magazine some 6 weeks before it hits the shops at this time there was nothing/very little around the election. Our thoughts about the election only surfaced very close to the actual print date – when the New Zealand Rugby (who were kept fully aware of the article and the cover. It was them who asked that we made it sure that there was a note saying: *Cover image Photo-shopped. Not an official All Blacks/New Zealand Rugby endorsement.

I made the decision that we would go with the cover – for the reasons outlined above. I didn’t for a second imagine it would be swallowed up by the political propaganda machine and make the headlines it has. If I had suspected this, I would not have had the same cover and opted for a quieter life! I simply believed it’s maximum impact would be the Whitcoull’s ‘double-take’ moment. I was wrong and as said before, I apologise to those who feel it was wrong and ill-timed.
I cannot change the decisions and issue now and hope that sincere apologies goes some way to expressing my concern at having upset some people.

PERMISSION

I chased the PM’s press secretary to do the story and take his photograph. The National Party/PM’s office did not offer nor give any financial incentive (or other kinds of incentive) and nor did they initiate the story/cover. The PM’s office was kept fully aware at all times.

We told New Zealand Rugby about the story, but only shared the final cover with them just before it went to print. They rightly requested a clarification to make it clear this was not in any way a cover photo endorsed by New Zealand Rugby or the All Blacks.

The New Zealand Rugby are fantastic supporters of Rugby News and outstanding guardians of the game. They are not in any way to blame, or responsible for this article and cover.

CONCLUSION

I hope that people can appreciate the openness that I have explained here and the thought process behind the article, cover and timing.
In retrospect – a great thing to have – I concede that I did not expect the adverse reaction that I have had from some people or the strength of feeling those people have around this issue. I have learned a valuable lesson there.
I am sorry that this magazine – which is my livelihood – and the game I love and the Rugby News brand may have been tarnished in some people’s eyes. However, the magazine remains highly relevant to Rugby fans and the breadth and quality of our articles is, I believe, the best in NZ as a pre-competition reference magazine.
I would ask that people respect this open and honest explanation and not seek to take parts of it and misrepresent it, me or the Rugby News brand. I would hope that this explanation and frank honesty could be respected – if not applauded by some – as an apology for misreading some people’s depth of opinion and an adult response from a real person and not a heartless, faceless corporate.

Hopefully this is and end to the matter and the focus can return to the Crusaders winning for Canterbury and NZ on Saturday and the All Blacks gaining a world record victory streak and winning the Rugby Championship. Now that really DOES matter!

The story behind this story is one of naivety.

A cover like this was bound to cause a stir at any time and more so this close to an election and anyone atuned to politics would have known that.

But the story behind the story behind the picture is that the editor wasn’t thinking of rugby not politics.

And that’s like a lot of other New Zealanders.

Shortly before the last election I made a comment about the front page story of the paper I was buying to the young man serving me.

It had something to do with the election and his response was, “is there an election this year?”

There’s political tragics like me who are focused on the election and there are a whole lot of others who aren’t .

Among them are people who rarely if ever think of politics and among them will be some people who don’t even know there’s an election in a couple of months.


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