Why the Right are Angry and the role of Mainstream Media

The current Labour government is the worst government I have witnessed. I was angry about Rogernomics, but not as angry as I am about the current government. I did not really understand Muldoon’s government. My father supported Muldoon and at that time we were dealing with a radical left at the university. We lived on the university premises and the radical left were very radical. It was scary and it was hard to step back and see the bigger picture.

Most of my complaints about this government relate to how it is attempting to divide NZ, its wanton attack on democracy, and its desire for racial segregation. The Public Interest Journalism Fund (PIJF) has nobbled the media. While there is strong opposition to Three Waters and co-governance in a variety of blogs, I suspect many of the public are unaware of these issues. I also suspect 80% of young people do not know how democracy works. I say these things because of the latest Roy Morgan poll. How can support for the National party be falling? It is a conundrum I cannot work out. Is it National’s failure to get its message across, or is it partly to do with the media being hampered by the PIJF? Both the print media and TV have shied away from the critical issues above, and recently I have noted how the media has pointedly attacked Luxon’s credentials, especially two articles in the NZ Herald. These came out when polls suggested that Labour’s support was falling. It is a standard formula of Labour to install attack politics on a person, rather than address the real issues. National do not help themselves, but their mistakes are trivial overall.

Most of the right-wing frustration vented by comments in blogs I have read are shallow and ill thought out, although I understand why. We are becoming increasingly aware of the PIJF’s influence on the mainstream media and what they are allowed to say. This frustration relates closely to National’s, and Luxon’s, fall in the polls, when there is a deep-seated, underground concern about Three Waters and co-governance, and how these two matters are affecting the legitimacy of democracy. Yet, neither TV1 or TV3 news at 6pm will discuss this, nor is there any meaningful discussion in Stuff or Newshub. Only the NZ Herald has started to tentatively address these issues (and lately Newshub too). General interest in politics is shallow at the best of times. This disinterest, coupled with people’s short attention spans means that if mainstream media are not reporting on it, then they are oblivious to what is happening, the open threat to democracy, and the lies.

A good example is Three Waters. The lie being spun is that councils will still own the assets.  The Auditor-General has even commented on this matter.  My quote from The Taxpayers’ Union will not be found in mainstream media. The Taxpayers’ Union published the following statement on their website on the legal case they had prepared for them to attach to their submission to parliament:

The opinion we got back, which has also been peer reviewed by a Queen’s Counsel, is probably the most damning legal opinion I have ever read. It concludes that Minister Mahuta’s claims regarding ownership have been “calculated to deceive Parliamentarians, and when it becomes law, to deceive New Zealanders generally.

“The legal opinion is very detailed, but it is not hard to understand. It calls the claims of retention of local ownership “false, misleading and deceptive” as “councils are expressly denied the rights of possession, control, derivation of benefits, and disposition that are the defining attributes of ownership”. Gary Judd QC comments in his review of the legal opinion: “When all the lying statements are put together, as [the] opinion does, the government’s effrontery is breath-taking.”

I doubt you will find this quoted in the mainstream press. Hence, most of the public do not know, and due to their ignorance, do not care.  Interestingly, in the last two opinion polls, there was a slight shift away from National to Act (and to NZ First too). Perhaps people are reacting to Act’s rhetoric on this matter? Conversely, there has also been a hardening on the left to this matter, as support for both the Greens and Māori Party increased too, at the expense of Labour? As such, is there a move away from the centre to the extremes and are we becoming more polarised in our political thinking? If so, that is a genuine worry.

Richard Prebble wrote that Three Waters is a coup happening under our noses, while the Auditor-General was more diplomatic when he said, “his comments were intended to help ensure the reforms were supported by well-functioning governance and accountability arrangements, but the bill as drafted could have “an adverse effect on public accountability, transparency, and organisational performance” (NZ Herald, 8 August 2022).

Essentially, we need more perspective and accountability in the media in addressing wider political matters, rather than attacking the faults of individual members of parliament. The media have an important role to play, but unfortunately, they appear to be either nobbled by the PIJF, or do not simply care. In which case, if New Zealand ends up with a Labour/Green/Māori party coalition at the next election, it could be too scary to contemplate the consequences. If this result does occur then, as I have previously written, democracy will be dead in the water by 2026, if not before.

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