The nightmare for the next PM

February 18th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Imagine you are or and you have just become Prime Minister after an election. NZ First held the balance of power, and you struck a confidence and supply or coalition deal with them.

You have say a two seat majority.

You first six months go pretty well. Then the Sunday Star-Times breaks the story about Brendan Horan. The allegations are he stole tens of thousands of dollars from his dying mother, to fund a gambling addiction.

This is no longer just a matter for New Zealand First. He is a Government MP. He is voting confidence and supply for your Government. If you lose his vote, your majority is halved.  You can’t afford to have NZ First lose an MP so you decide to back Horan’s right to stay as an MP. You say he has not been charged with anything.

For the next six months the Opposition dominate question time with questions of fraud, gambling, vulnerable elderly and the like. You drop 5% in the polls and finally charges are laid, he is expelled and he becomes an Independent MP. Your majority is now one. It will be like what Julia Gillard has just had to endure with Craig Thomson (note I am not saying Horan has broken any laws).

Just as you are coping with that, then the MP for Wogistan shares his thoughts with the nation on how anyone who looks like a Muslim should be banned from flying. Once again this is no longer a matter just for NZ First. It is a matter for the Prime Minister. He is a Government MP. You face questions on whether he should remain an MP. If you say he should go, then you no longer have a majority. If you say he made a mistake but should stay an MP, then you become crippled as a Government with your mandate to govern being based on the MP for Wogistan’s vote. It is like Alamein Kopu but far worse. You drop another 5% in the polls and just one year into the term you are facing either an early election on inevitable defeat at the next election – regardless of how well you are doing with your policies.

This is no far fetched scenario. This is what could well have happened if NZ First had held the balance of power in 2011.

The question that should be keeping David Shearer and John Key awake at night, is the thought that this could be what awaits them after 2014. Winston by himself is capable of destablising the most stable Government. But add in some maverick MPs and it is a nightmare.

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This Tom Scott cartoon hits the mark.  How confident can you be that NZ First actually has a robust selection process where they vet, critique and scrutinise their candidates? Does anyone really think Horan and Prosser are aberrations?

That is not to suggest all NZ First MPs are flaky. They are not. To name just three, Barbara Stewart, Tracey Martin and (somewhat surprisingly) Andrew Williams have all been diligent MPs who have not caused any issues and are working hard.

But if you are a minor party in Government, you only need a couple of ones that implode, and the Government itself gets imperiled.

David Shearer and John Key should be be thinking very hard about their options after the next election.  If you are a Labour or Green supporter, you should be thinking about what sort of Government a Labour-Green-NZ First Government would be. If you are a National supporter, you should be thankful that National ruled Peters out in 2008 and 2011, and hoping they do so again.

UPDATE: Stuff has a timely article looking at the NZ First caucus and asking which MP may go next.

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43 Responses to “The nightmare for the next PM”

  1. burt (8,275 comments) says:

    DPF

    It would be easily dealt with. Deny, Delay, Denigrate the accusers …. Say that you take him on his word… wait long enough that there is no legal recourse then move on… Well that’s how Clark dealt with it !!!!!

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  2. mikemikemikemike (325 comments) says:

    Are you really that scared of NZ First? Rather than try and belittle Winston as a coalition partner, maybe (just maybe) you could highlight some of positives that are coming out the current government.

    Maybe National could do a better job of and demonstrate to the public that they can govern on their own and build up some support for themselves – at the moment they (and you) are just making them look like the least useless of a useless bunch….

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  3. David Farrar (1,899 comments) says:

    Mikex4 seems to be so desperate to have Labour in power that he has no problems with a party that defends an MP who labels Muslims wogs and says if you look like a wog you shouldn’t be allowed to travel. How sad.

    He also thinks my job is to defend anyone or anything. It isn’t.

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  4. tvb (4,430 comments) says:

    The problems with Horan are not new nor with Prosser The fact is any Government on a small majority has these problems that have to be managed. The Labour Government in Australia is battling these issues right through-out this Parliament. And Helen Clark had similar problems within her caucus which she managed with a great deal of political skill. It is wrong therefore to limit this issue to NZF. I love the Scott cartoon that states people win their candidacy in a pub raffle.

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  5. hj (7,033 comments) says:

    But Winston was right?

    John Carran, 2 April 1996
    “Vehement opposition to immigration, particularly from Asian countries, in New Zealand from an ill-informed and xenophobic rabble persists despite overwhelming evidence that immigration will improve our long term economic prospects.
    In 1988 The Institute of Policy Studies published detailed research by Jacques Poot, Ganesh Nana and Bryan Philpott on the effects of migration on the New Zealand economy. The research, which abstracted from the social and environmental impact of immigration, concluded that “…a significant migration inflow can be beneficial to the performance of the New Zealand economy and subsequent consumption and income levels.” The authors point out that this is in general agreement with Australian research on the economic consequences of immigration.


    Of course there is more to life than attaining economic excellence. The social and environmental impact of immigration also needs to be considered. But here the reasons given for restricting immigration range from pathetic to extremely dodgy. Most of the accusations are barely disguised racist piffle backed by tenuous rumours and cloudy anecdotes. Winston Peters’ stirring of the masses has exposed the ignorance and racial biases of a small and distasteful section of New Zealand society. These people yearn for a cloistered, inhibited, white (with a bit of brown at the edges) dominated utopia fondly envisaged by racists and xenophobes everywhere.

    http://www.gmi.co.nz/news/1021/opposition-to-immigration-why-let-the-arguments-get-in-the-way.aspx
    Savings Working Group
    January 2011
    “The big adverse gap in productivity between New Zealand and other countries opened up from the 1970s to the early 1990s. The policy choice that increased immigration – given the number of employers increasingly unable to pay First-World wages to the existing population and all the capital requirements that increasing populations involve – looks likely to have worked almost directly against the adjustment New Zealand needed to make and it might have been better off with a lower rate of net immigration. This adjustment would have involved a lower real interest rate (and cost of capital) and a lower real exchange rate, meaning a more favourable environment for raising the low level of productive capital per worker and labour productivity. The low level of capital per worker is a striking symptom of New Zealand’s economic challenge.

    http://www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/reviews-consultation/savingsworkinggroup/pdfs/swg-report-jan11.pdf

    http://www.treasury.govt.nz/downloads/pdfs/mi-jarrett-comm.pdf
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/money/4622459/Government-policies-blamed-for-house-prices

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  6. hj (7,033 comments) says:

    While NZ First has a problem with dummies National has greedy smarts protecting the status quo.
    Landlords capture others labour.

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  7. Paul Gardner (8 comments) says:

    I’m not a NZ First/Winston fan and definitely see the issue…

    However, isn’t it simply the same problem John Key had to deal with surrounding John Banks?

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  8. hj (7,033 comments) says:

    The party system is a failure as once the cooks get into the kitchen they decide what they want to cook. E.g at the Green Restuarant you get an anti anglo-saxon male bias, embracing of the indigenous version of Te Tiritti (which is broad and as far-out as you can get), encouragement for large families.. (as long as they aren’t Anglo-Saxon ), soft on crime (criminals are victums of state violence..).

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  9. ChardonnayGuy (1,207 comments) says:

    This assumes that New Zealand First makes it back into the next Parliament. The cumulative polls appear to show it right on the edge- which may suggest that any significant Labour Party recovery will ping it back out of Parliament, as indeed might a prolonged series of MP hijinks. Unfortunately, National has a nightmare situation on its hands should NZF become the only cab on the rank (seriously rank at that!!! :) ) on the right- that is, until Winston becomes too elderly, infirm or addled to carry on.

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  10. Pete George (23,591 comments) says:

    Remarkably an NZ First spokesperson said Prosser will effectively be dumped next year, and they only reason he hasn’t been dumped now is that they have already dumped Horan.

    So they think he’s bad enough top dump but don’t want the party to look too flaky. That’s not a good look.

    NZ First would have dumped Prosser but for Horan – and Peters?

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  11. ChardonnayGuy (1,207 comments) says:

    Why hasn’t someone disposed of Investigrunt before now, incidentally? It’s becoming a liability to mainstream political parties across the spectrum, except for CCCP. Winston should never have accepted an MP from the raving right’s core tragic tabloid gutter glossy.

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  12. mikemikemikemike (325 comments) says:

    Again you are wrong. I’ve always voted national, I believe they do an ok job and would like to see what they could do without being a minor parties bitch. I would like it if a government would show true courage and attempt to get elected on merit rather than just making the others look so bad that people will shrug and decide they are the least terrible.

    Plus you left out my other comments where I decry labours threats over charter schools. Mention I would never vote for them and in my posts about prosser I did not defend him so much as ask what made his comments different to those if Melissa lee’s or John banks?

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  13. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    I would hope that who was ever PM that they would have the guts to say to the Horans and the Prosser’s fuck off I have some integrity left and I don’t to to cling to power that desperately (tui billboard here].
    This just shows hours rooted our version of Mmp is if a. government has to be beholding to the likes of the drunken dwarf and his shower of no hopers

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  14. David Garrett (7,318 comments) says:

    Chardonnay: How would you suggest Investigate be “disposed of”? Yes, Wishart is …out there… in some of what he publishes, but he has never been successfully sued. His bio of Clark, “Absolute Power”, contains a number of highly defamatory allegations….that he was never sued suggests they are all true. He also – to the best of my knowledge – has no personal fortune or wealthy backers behind him, which means there are regular buyers in some numbers for his publication.

    I understand Mr Prosser has been writing for the mag for some years, and that this latest is not the first such column. One would have thought the NZ First selectors (sorry, the Hon. W Peters) would have been aware of the content of the columns? Has anyone suggested Prosser denied being a columnist for Wishart? A book (published by Wishart) by Mr Prosser which contains his views on life has been on sale at the local gas station for some time. They all appear to have recently sold..

    It appears from Prosser’s own comments that there was no formal vetting of his columns before publication after he was elected. All of this suggests incompetence on the part of NZF rather than Prosser being some sort of closet looney who only now has shown his colours.

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  15. Chris2 (766 comments) says:

    The problem here is really for National to solve before the next election. They are likely to be the largest party again in Parliament at the next election, but they may not have the numbers to govern.

    Why? Because it seems they are doing very little to get themselves an electable support partner.

    It is not unreasonable to imagine that ACT and United will be gone at the next election and those seats will revert back to National, and in any event MMP has not bought in List MP’s for those parties anyway so why should National continue to forgo 2 electorate seats to parties that are not delivering any List MP’s into the mix?

    National really needs to find a natural support party and begin giving it some help to be elected – 4-5 long-term list seats would be a good start. The only option currently is the Conservative Party. It’s leader is a dork really, but he is funding the party so it would be tricky to dislodge him. But there is an underbelly of conservatives out there looking for a home, and National ought to give consideration as to how they get some Conservative MP’s into the House.

    If they don’t, National are greatly at risk of losing the next election.

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  16. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    His bio of Clark, “Absolute Power”, contains a number of highly defamatory allegations….that he was never sued suggests they are all true.

    It suggests nothing of the sort.

    That could be the reason. Equally, someone might just decide that, as you point out, he has no personal fortune or wealthy backers, which suggests, you might not be able to collect a payment. Or It could be that someone doesn’t want to give greater publicity to the defamation. Or that someone took advice and got the usual defamation analogy about rolling in mud with pigs.

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  17. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    DG Prosser its from christ church and even though I constantly bang on about how racist the place is, its true its the redneck capital of New Zealand by a country mile. Prosser has a lot who share his views although only 568 were stupid enough to vote for him.

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  18. David Garrett (7,318 comments) says:

    Graeme E: Points well made…but have you ever read “Aboslutle Power” ? There is some very hard hitting stuff in it. And even if you are right as to why he was never sued over that, there is plenty more potential material. As Chardonnay man has pointed out, whatever its contents, Investigate is a glossy mag which is clearly very professionally printed. The cover price is – I think – about the same as North & South. That it continues to be published means people buy it.

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  19. Richard29 (377 comments) says:

    @DG “Aboslutle Power”
    Sounds like an interesting read – though judging by the title would probably be controversial in Australia with both Aboriginals and sexually promiscuous women…

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  20. RRM (9,933 comments) says:

    Or maybe it suggests that Helen Clark already has her retirement ducks in a row and really doesn’t give a rat’s arse what readers of ‘Absolute Power’ might think? ;-)

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  21. RRM (9,933 comments) says:

    And yeah – NEWSFLASH: WINSTON FIRST ROCKS THE BOAT! :-)

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  22. David Garrett (7,318 comments) says:

    Richard29: tres amusement sir….yes, those typos can split your sides every time….

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  23. Pete George (23,591 comments) says:

    DG: “It appears from Prosser’s own comments that there was no formal vetting of his columns before publication after he was elected. All of this suggests incompetence on the part of NZF rather than Prosser being some sort of closet looney who only now has shown his colours.”

    Prosser said that Peters reads Investigate and presumes he had already read the column before it was DPFed.

    Asked whether Peters knew about the Wogistan column before it blew up in the media, Prosser replies carefully: “Well, I know he reads Investigate and the issue came out about a month ago, so I guess so.”

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10865859

    And Prosser seems to have converted from a no nonsense gonad equipped Mulsim basher:

    He believes there is a perception that moderate Islam doesn’t speak out when radical Islamists “do bad things”. He wants to work with the Muslim community to ensure “the lunatic fringe” can be drowned out.

    And what of Prosser’s beloved pocketknife, and its confiscation at Christchurch Airport that inspired his anti-Islam rant? He wants to sell the knife (still under lock and key at the airport) on Trade Me and give the proceeds to a worthy cause.

    “One that sprung to mind was the Pakistani girl who got shot by the Taleban,” he says. “Her recovery is going to need a bit of help and that might be a good thing to do.”

    Getting rid of the pocketknife is “symbolic of burying the hatchet”, he says. “It’s time to let things go. It’s time to let go of the controversial shock-jock approach … the beard’s gone, it’s a new me.”

    So if you have a copy of his book you should burn it – and any back copies of Investigate. Prosser is a reformed transformed no nonsense go-getter.

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  24. David Garrett (7,318 comments) says:

    PG: You are quoting from my source for the suggestion that Peter’s didn’t vet the column…or presumably any of his earlier ones.

    I actually feel a little sorry for Prosser on a personal level. The stupid fool allowed some hack from the HoS to interview him AND take pics of his partner and young child….he has now squarely made his (much younger) partner and child part of his story…I was very careful never to do that, but that didn’t prevent my children being caught up in the firestorm…and you can bet your ass there are journos going through his backstory with a fine tooth comb right now…

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  25. Harriet (4,975 comments) says:

    “….How confident can you be that NZ First actually has a robust selection process where they vet, critique and scrutinise their candidates?….”

    There is no reason why a select committee can’t scrutinise candidates for any party – they stick their noses into every other aspect of the publics’ lives. :cool:

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  26. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    DG don’t feel sorry for him, that was obviously one of those spin attempts rio show a ‘ human’ face. All its shown is that he is an idiot Who constantly makes poor decisions, not something you want from a member of our Parliament

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  27. Pete George (23,591 comments) says:

    There is no reason why a select committee can’t scrutinise candidates for any party …

    There is every reason why not – it would be totally impractical and a nonsensical inteference of MPs in selections, especially of other parties.

    The fact is that it’s very difficult to get competent people to put themselves forward, because it leaves you open to very public scrutiny, sometimes to an extreme degree as DG well knows, often with no connection between the attention and an MP’s abiity to contribute positively to Parliament.

    And as Winston well knows, bad behaviour and over the top attention seeking receives a lot more attention that head down bums up diligence and hard work.

    Even the large parties have trouble getting breadth and depth of quality.

    Our whole way of doing politics is not conducive to attracting the right sort of people to run the country, in fact the opposite, it’s a deterrent.

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  28. Bob R (1,377 comments) says:

    ***If you are a National supporter, you should be thankful that National ruled Peters out in 2008 and 2011, and hoping they do so again.***

    This is the same National Party that went into government with the Maori Party when they had Hone Harawira & Tariana Turia who complained about too many white immigrants?

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2007/02/no_whities_says_turia.html

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  29. ChardonnayGuy (1,207 comments) says:

    David G: How do we *know* that Investigrunt isn’t propped by a wealthy but dotty backer? It has never made a virtue of corporate transparency, and nor has it ever released audited circulation figures, so we don’t know its actual level of consumer support. Moreover, it was forced to adopt bimonthly frequency some time back, so there *has* been some decline in circulation (whatever it might be) evidently. And even assuming that there’s an audience for it, what if it’s the same constituency that backs the ‘raving right’- conspiracy theories a go go, the neofascist microparties, the Christian Right and that odious political ilk? It’s time the tragic tabloid gutter glossy was put out of its misery, and perhaps it could be through defamation proceedings, who knows?

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  30. scrubone (3,099 comments) says:

    I’d say that New Zealand First are the least of our concerns. At least they’re disciplining their MPs – Sue Bradford made comments just as nasty about christians and I don’t recall her party leaders doing anything about that.

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  31. scrubone (3,099 comments) says:

    ChardonnayGuy makes a good point. We just don’t know.

    I for one think that ChardonnayGuy is an alien who is infiltrating New Zealand society – his lack of transparcy has only lent creedence to this.

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  32. peterwn (3,275 comments) says:

    This is a potential nightmare for both major party leaders, but one that Niccolo Machiavelli would thrive on. The solution depends on the circumstances at the time which is why John Key has made no decision regarding NZ First and the 2014 election. The best solution as I currently see in 2014 could be for John to concede to a Labour coalition after helping Winston extracting the highest possible price, then help the coalition implode. This effectively happened 1996 – 1999, and I think Helen Clark was then shrewd enough to bide her time for three more years to gain a much more valuable prize.

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  33. hinamanu (2,352 comments) says:

    Very encouraging thread for third party representation

    This country needs change as most western countries do

    Could this be the beginning of the crumbling of the Nat/Lab empire ?

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  34. Harriet (4,975 comments) says:

    “…..And even assuming that there’s an audience for it, what if it’s the same constituency that backs the ‘raving right’- conspiracy theories a go go, the neofascist microparties, the Christian Right and that odious political ilk? It’s time the tragic tabloid gutter glossy was put out of its misery…”

    Are you fucken stupid or just being a wanker?

    NZ hasn’t seen conservative rule for 40 yrs – yet your beloved ‘pwogwessive left’ says we now have ‘this problem, that problem, this problem, that problem.’

    Those problems appeared because idiots like you blindly agitated for them! Your a fucken idiot!

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  35. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    The “nightmare for the next PM” is, in reality, a just a bit of an inconvenience. The real nightmare will be what’s visited on 95% of NZers.

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  36. Adele Keyshia (39 comments) says:

    Ahh the price of democracy

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  37. ChardonnayGuy (1,207 comments) says:

    The only sort of alien I am is a recovering Mainlander, except during SuperRugby season when I become extremely irrational, clad myself in red and black and yell Caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanterbury!!! at passing rugby teams of other persuasions. Given that I’m partnered to a Highlander, this represents slight complications.

    And anyway, better alien than Australian! :)

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  38. ChardonnayGuy (1,207 comments) says:

    Okay, make that a Highlander fan. My bad.

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  39. Rodders (1,755 comments) says:

    Who will be the next Prime Minister who has little choice but to sack Winston as a Minister/instruct Winston to “stand aside” as a Minister?

    Three successive PM’s have been in this position (so far)

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  40. Tauhei Notts (1,724 comments) says:

    I hope this doesn’t happen for many many years, but Tom Scott will, like all of us, eventually die.
    After his death, which I hope is many years away, the above cartoon must be repeated.
    IT IS ONE OF HIS BEST.
    Simple, but brilliant.
    The man has huge talent.

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  41. hj (7,033 comments) says:

    7 people (landlords) give the Savings Working Group (described by Matt Nolan as a “great bunch of thinkers”) the thumbs down. Another inconvenient truth not to believe in? Great public citizens, not!

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  42. hj (7,033 comments) says:

    Does the media play it fair?

    “Take the immigration debate. In the last week of November and first week of December, we ran the video recorders over One News and 3 News. One of the biggest news stories in this time concerned Winston Peters’ comments on immigration.
    On One’s Late Edition, anchor Peter Williams opened with this:
    “Winston Peters is unrepentant in the wake of a new poll which suggests many New Zealanders think he’s increasing division in the community.”
    Let’s pause there for a moment and search for liberal-loaded newspeak. We’re told Peters is “unrepentant”. Unrepentant for what? Who elected One News to be judge and jury on what politicians should be repentant for? If One News wants to editorialise, it should broadcast editorials and state clearly that’s what they are.”
    http://www.thebriefingroom.com/archives/society_culture/media_bias/index.html

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  43. hj (7,033 comments) says:

    Media bias cont>

    Question 1: “Winston Peters’ views and statements increase tension and division between Asian immigrants and the rest of New Zealand… Agree…Disagree…Don’t Know.”
    As you can see, it’s not a question. It’s a political statement and it could have been drafted by the Prime Minister’s office for all the objectivity it displayed.
    One News is telling survey respondents that Peters is being divisive. In polling terms, One News has loaded the dice for what some may believe are political reasons. By making a firm statement portraying a negative image, One News is inviting respondents to see it that way before they’ve even opened their mouths to respond.
    Question 2: “Asian immigration is a good thing. It makes the country more multicultural and the economy stronger…Agree…Disagree…Don’t know.”
    Again, a political statement rather than a polling question. One News is telling those surveyed that they should believe immigration is a good thing. The final ‘question’ in the poll asked whether the Government should stop any further Asian immigration (given that we’ve now established Peters is being unkind to Asians and that Asian immigration is good for our economy and good for multiculturalism), to which 71% disagreed and said the Government should not stop Asian immigration.
    Having set up their straw-man, One News then tries to set him alight.
    “The Government,” continues the report, “says the poll is proof Winston Peters has read it wrong.”
    “I think this is a very telling poll indeed,” Labour’s Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel is quoted as saying.
    The liberal prejudice running through the report – that Peters is being divisive and causing tension by daring to comment on the issue, that he should shut up because immigration is a good thing and multiculturalism is a good thing – these are the prejudices of staff in the news organisation, not scientifically-tested facts.
    Ironically, the reporter and producers who worked on the story, and the person who dreamt up the poll ‘questions’, may not even realise they have the biases – the attitudes are so ingrained they are accepted as “the way it is”.
    But One News hadn’t finished the hatchet-job. Anchor Peter Williams came back after the break to interview sociologist Paul Spoonley from Massey University.
    “Is Winston Peters’ reading of the issue all wrong? Is he the one actually out of touch with what New Zealand is thinking? Are you surprised Paul that New Zealanders, at least according to this poll, appear to have a pretty liberal attitude towards Asian immigration?”
    “No, not really,” replied Spoonley. “I think what they’re beginning to realise is that our economic future is very much with Asia, and we’re beginning to accept that Asians coming here is part of that future.”
    What One News never declared in their coverage was that Paul Spoonley has been highly critical of NZ First leader Winston Peters on his immigration stand in the past, and that Spoonley is funded by the United Nations to help the UN plan for immigration.
    http://www.thebriefingroom.com/archives/society_culture/media_bias/index.html

    a bit like TV3 using Chris Trotter to comment on Shearer (they wouldn’t stoop that low)….. :roll:

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