Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: What the people want to hear

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  • Andrew Smith,

    Just thought I'd get an answer from John Key on this. His email response is:

    "The statement is simply not correct. I have been misreported. The paper has no tape didn't ask any questions of me about the comment etc etc.....Bottom line I came to politics to ensure wages conditions and opportunities for Kiwis go up."

    Since Jan 2007 • 150 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Cox,

    BTW, I've received an email about how one newsroom weighed up the apparent tax promise and didn't write the story. I'll see if I can post it here.

    Oh! Yes please!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 312 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I mentioned upthread that a journalist had contacted me about the Key tax cuts story. It was I Ian Llewellyn and he's happy to be quoted thus:

    I see on your blog, you have pondered why a bigger deal was not made by news organisations about Key’s comments on tax cuts benefiting people (by I think) around $300 a month. I tried to scrawl through all the comments, but there is not enough time in the day.

    Anyway, just to give you some insight into how this happened in our office.

    I was at home by the time the Cullen press release came out about it, but was called up because there was dissent in the office about how to handle it and tax etc is my area.

    We checked the quote and its accuracy (It was correct) and looked at the context (which was confusing), we checked out with Key’s office what he meant.

    The most interesting point to me was whether he had revealed that National had done some detailed tax policy and Key had let slip some information that pointed to it and following on from this what the policy was.

    To cut to the end, the decision I made was that Key was talking about what would be the effect now if National had been elected in 2005 and implemented its tax policy as outlined then… the crucial part of this was the reference to the `If we were in Government’’ or some such like phrase.

    The $50/$60 a week was roughly what I recall that package delivering to many people (though of course what is average is a matter of debate, skewed by the fact that many in New Zealand effectively pay no tax whatsoever)

    I was assured by one senior Nat that they had got no where near finalising a tax policy. Sure there is plenty of discussion about possibilities, but like most opposition parties they will keep their options open to well into election year and probably the formal campaign before getting anywhere near that.

    So after an hour of my time (after I got home) and an hour of another journalist’s time, the decision was made to do nothing because nothing new had been said. In these instances we are loathe to write something because a politician from the opposite side claims scandal.

    It is a judgment call and maybe it was wrong, but time will tell.

    I just want to assure you that there was not just a simple decision through bias or laziness… John has made a gaffe/slip/revelation let’s ignore it.

    There is debate about such issues on a daily basis… what matters? What shall we spend our time on? etc

    You would be surprised how much time we spend filtering out claims the sky is falling and in the ever dwindling resources of the media, time is the most rationed item.

    Just as an aside I also did a bit of work on the Nats policy towards the mega-meat merger, whether anyone published it I do not know.

    Anyway in case you are wondering why I am emailing this instead of blogging, well I am still dubious about the blogging world. The abuse and nastiness on some sites is off-putting and leaves me with no desire to engage.

    Your site does tend to have a better level of debate, but some of the assumptions about how the media works does worry me sometime.

    For my part, I've been informed by the discussion following this post, and I really appreciate Ian's reply.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22759 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    though of course what is average is a matter of debate, skewed by the fact that many in New Zealand effectively pay no tax whatsoever

    I assume we're talking about people who pay tax but get support like working for families which outweighs this. Such people aren't effectively paying no tax, they're paying negative tax, and tax cuts can and would provide them benefit - they'd end up with a more negative tax burden.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I assume we're talking about people who pay tax but get support like working for families which outweighs this. Such people aren't effectively paying no tax, they're paying negative tax, and tax cuts can and would provide them benefit - they'd end up with a more negative tax burden.

    It's a breadwinner's wet dream. Earn more money than you actually earn. Quick, I need to have more kids.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    For my part, I've been informed by the discussion following this post, and I really appreciate Ian's reply.

    Ditto, RB. And thanks for Mr.Llewellyn giving a bit of insight into the process, especially when there's a meme doing the rounds that the media are all John Key's willing bitches. I guess it's just human nature to go into a defensive crouch when faced with criticism, so it's refreshing to see people calmly engage with their critics.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    OK, so there's no grand conspiracy around the coverage of the supposed level of tax cuts. That's fine, because like most other people I'm willing to accept that the number was something Key pulled out of his arse at the time. Polly tubbies like doing that. I'll even accept that it was based on their tax policy from '05. A bit more information would've been nice, but either way it's not a figure that would decimate the tax base.

    However, I'm far more interested in why the suspensory loan hasn't been big news. NZ is, and rightly so as far as I'm concerned, a very vocal critic of agriculture subsidies on the part of other countries. We can pull the "holier than thou" act when discussing it because we're just about the free-est market on the planet, bar none. If National are talking about financial incentives to farmers, that's going completely counter a) to their supposed free-market roots, and b) to everything that NZ's been arguing for on the world stage for the last however many years (two decades?). The media, if they were doing their jobs properly, would be trumpeting that one from the rooftops. Why aren't they? It hasn't even been examined by the MSM, that I can find.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Bob Munro,

    This post has been put here as the thread seems to have died.

    This is just a bit of a heads up regarding the unrest in Tibet and the coming taking of the Olympic Flame to the top of Mt Everest in May. Some good direct first hand information is coming out of Tibet from Radio Free Asia

    A number of New Zealanders are involved in guided climbing expeditions on both the South (Nepal) and North (China) sides of Mt Everest so it's possible that any news worthy items around then might have a New Zealand component.

    Last year more than 240 climbers from about 20 expeditions summited from the South and a similar number from the North. Just about all of these are guided parties with large logistical and Sherpa support.

    Russell Brice from Himex
    is the main player on the North side. Russell left New Zealand in the early nineties and began the first guiding from the Chinese side. He is a dominant figure there and other expeditions rely on his organisation. Russell’s Sherpas put in all the fixed rope from the below the North Col right to the summit at the beginning of each season. Guy Cotter from Wanaka runs Adventure Consultants who operate mainly from the South.

    Both these companies employ a number of Kiwis.

    The Chinese plan to take the Olympic Flame to the summit. They had a successful dress rehearsal last year. Their worst nightmare would be to arrive there and be met by a group of grinning climbers holding a ‘Free Tibet’ flag, surrounded by the latest communication technology.

    Consequently the Chinese have banned other expeditions on the North side until after the flame has been to the top, probably about 10 May.

    Yesterday the Nepalese authorities also banned climbing to the summit while the flame is up there. It seems the carrot the Chinese used was some large ‘loans’. Shades of their activities in the Pacific.

    Normally the Chinese use a big stick to enforce their will but both the focus on the Olympics and modern technologies are making it harder to do that and not be noticed. Last year western climbers filmed and reported the shooting of a young nun from a party of Tibetans attempting to escape across the Nangpa La mountain pass.

    To follow how this all unfolds Explorers Web is already reporting extensively on the Tibetan unrest and the twists and turns of the bans on climbing. They do have a bee in their bonnet about Russell Brice as I’m sure we will see over the next two months. Alan Arnette blogs extensively on Everest happenings, is himself on an expedition from the north and is very fair and impartial.

    Christchurch • Since Aug 2007 • 418 posts Report Reply

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