Armstrong on the propaganda


After a brief hibernation, it is politics much as usual. When it comes to uniting for the recovery, there is huge disagreement between Labour and National as regards policy priorities, the desirable level of public spending and the extent of borrowing.

That’s further reason why the notion that Unite for Recovery is somehow not political is a nonsense. The campaign’s website might serve a purpose of being a one-stop shop which details everything you need to know about the Ardern Administration’s response to the pandemic.

In particular, given the No 1 priority now facing the country is the tackling of the scourge of unemployment and the resulting slashing of incomes in many households, it is essential that people are aware of benefit entitlements, training and apprenticeship opportunities, the mortgage repayment deferral scheme, protection from sudden rent increases, and so forth.

You won’t find any mention on the website of National’s policies dealing with such matters, however.

You thus might conclude the Unite for Recovery information campaign serves as a surreptitious means to define and dictate the debate about how best to rebuild New Zealand’s ravaged economy.

The problem is that the boundary between “informing” the public of Government measures and “promoting” those measures in order to gain political advantage is not easily drawn.

Even when such a line is demarcated, it can become blurred. The net effect is to hand Labour a massive advantage.

That would matter less if September’s general election was still some distance away.

But it isn’t. Any government contemplating either establishing a new taxpayer-funded information programme or rejigging an existing one when the country is little more than three months away from an election ought to think very hard about the constitutional propriety of embarking on such a course.

Good to see the propaganda get called out.

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