TV Review: The Nation


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I haven’t reviewed The Nation or Q+A yet this year. I just don’t think it’s fair to review Q+A while Susan Wood is hosting it, what can you say about an interviewer who just shouts over the top of their interviewees?

Q+A isn’t intelligent current affairs, it’s Sunday morning shouty and yelly. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind shouty yelly, I like it. But not on a Sunday morning, it’s just too undignified.

So I’ll give The Nation a shot for Saturday morning.

Rachel Smalley is one of the best Current Affairs interviewers in NZ, she is a must watch on FirstLine every week day. Her and Mihingarangi Forbes are the new benchmarks for quality.

Rachel is grilling Parker on their beautiful new electricity policy. The issue with Labour and Greens is what happens if we lose electricity dividends, Parker is doing a terrible job of selling this.

And this is going to be the problem. Labour have great policy here and the main proponents out selling it can’t do that, this is why bloody Cunliffe has to be out selling this. Parker is a wonk, he’s an incredible mind, but he can’t sell the vision. Parker is getting pushed around by Rachel because Rachel has real questions that don’t really get answered by Parker.

If Cunliffe was Finance spokesperson right now Labour would be able to throw down these bullshit criticisms. The worry is that the roar from the msm and the right will spook Labour, especially if they don’t have a champion out front able to sell it.

TDB Recommends

Great policy, poor selling to date.

Gareth Hughes is on. He’s one of the best performers in Parliament and he will be a future leader. I am always impressed with everything he does and he is far better at articulating the case for this policy.

He brilliantly points out that while Joyce is screaming ‘North Korea’, South Korea has a single electricity purchasing agency and prices have dropped 38%.

How does it help the environment is a smart question by Rachel, Gareth counters that it gives those consumers who are already practicing energy efficiency even more incentives by even bigger savings.

Is this designed to derail the Mighty River Power asset theft Rachel demands, Gareth dances around and refuses to get into a debate on that, he offers NZers a choice ‘under National higher power prices and the assets sold – under the Greens cheaper power and assets that won’t be sold’.

Gareth did an amazing job of holding the line and defending the policy, far better than Parker. If Labour don’t lift their sales pitch ability on this, they risk losing more votes to the Greens.

Winnie is on, he will buy the power assets back using the Cullen fund. It’s old school economic sovereignty stuff but Winnie isn’t aiming it at Labour voters he’s aiming this message at National voters.

NZ First is positioning itself to be a possible National Party Government coalition partner and this latest song and dance routine with not voting for marriage equality is a clear tilt to an older more conservative voting block.

Winston is using ‘domestic terrorism’ as his justification for allowing the GCSB to spy on NZers.

YAWN. What a sell out.

Winston is positioning to the right, he will cut a deal with Key given half a chance and if he goes with Labour he will blunt any Green aspiration.

The ghost of Max Bradford is conjured up and wails about electricity prices of yesteryear. Simply put his free market reforms have been a joke and have burnt consumers and the right are scrambling as Labour and the Greens suddenly destroy the political consensus.

Colin James notes the importance of what Labour and the Greens have pulled.

Good episode of The Nation.


  1. I disagree, while Smalley may be the best going around, I disliked they way she did not give Parker time to answer. She also seemed a bit slow picking up the idea that money saved on electricity would be spent elsewhere in the economy. I actually thought that Parker gave a good account of himself and the policy.

    • Labour need Cunliffe to sell this. If Parker keeps on like this, it will be ridiculed by the right, and it will become the North Korean power joke. Parker is just not up to the job, and neither is Shearer. Thats the next problem waiting around the corner toon, the Election, and Labours horrendous efforts in front of the Media.

    • One of the problems is that Park is actually not very engaging, he looked around as if to so ain’t I the smart boy on the block.

  2. I agree Parker was his own worst enemy, coupled with the stupid answer “well, I understand it” to a question. He needed to use better language and talk to people, instead he came across as arrogant and up himself. Bloody nora! Gareth Hughes was good, real good.

    My problem with the show over all is what Chris alludes to.

    The interview had me grinding my teeth was Max Bradford. The folly fossil of neo-liberal ideology shit grind power mess himself, was let to spew any old silly shit he liked and Rachel Smalley just left him to it. Oh well enough rope I suppose, enough rope.

    • I just thought it was wrong to have Bradford on frankly. He is a fossil, I just don’t think Smalley is that great at all.

  3. I reckon Parker did well, surprisingly Smalley sounded like she doesnt understand basic micro-economics: the impact of increase in velocity from additional money supply into the economy.

    This is classic Labour policy, it increases the income to those in the economy that spend, because they have to, they are struggling. This improves growth, the tax take, etc. Hence why Labour/Greens policy has a net $100m cost…its a brilliant policy.

    Smalley also questioned Parker quoting “forgoing dividends”, believing this to mean that Labour would Forgo 100% dividends. This is a case where Labour need to ensure that their communication is 100% clear because the media will have a go at any ambiguity in Labours communication.

    • I think an Q+A session would be an appropriate solution to a potential problem like that, Saarbo.

      Invite a panel of experts and interested sector groups; as well as Party reps; have plenty of BIG wall-charts; have info ready to answer tricky questions (eg; the “dip in power prices soon after Brafdords ill-conceived electricity “reforms” – which I intend to answer in an upcoming blogpost); etc.

      Make sure that community-based experts such as Molly Melhuish is present.

      Make sure someone asks dorky questions like “Isn’t this Communism-by-stealth” – and have Muldoon’s “Dancing Cossacks” ready as a reposte. Then throw Rio Tinto into the mix, and ask the journos; why should that corporation get cheap, subsidised power – but not the rest of the country?

      Approach TVNZ, TV3, and Face TV, to see if the entire proceeding can be broadcast (even at a non-Prime Time slot), so people can hear everything that is asked and answered – not just selected clips.

      Also take note that many journos are barely post-pubescent and have no personal knowledge or experience of the electricity industry prior to Rogernomics. Solutions: invite senior journos in their 50s and 60s (if such ‘beasts’ still exist).

      Just a few suggestions.

      More to come on my blogpost. Including what caused Bradford’s “power price dip”.

      • Agree Frank. But Labour has a problem. When it comes to communicating this policy, which is a tricky policy to communicate, I dont think Shearer has the understanding of politics/economics to pull it off. Parker can, Cunliffe definitely could and perhaps Clark could.

  4. i find i disagree with almost every aspect of this review..

    ..i have done commentaries on questiontime in parl for some years..

    ..and i have never had much good to say about parker..

    ..but i think he kicked arse on the nation..and would call it a stellar performance…and his best ever..

    ..where he clearly articulated the policy/arguments for..

    ..and as for smalley..?..i thought it was her epic-fail..and almost a media-school-what-not-to-do tool delivered by her.. she was unable to understand the basic math..three times..!..helped her case not a jot..

    ..and the tone/tenor/timbre of much of smalleys’ questions was up there with keys’ claim tonight that we will all be reduced to huddling around candles..hilarious..!

    ..i am surprised we saw such different interviews..

    ..i will agree tho’ that shearer was as inarticulate/bumbling as he usually is..

    ..and i know that trotter has called on shearer to step into the shoes of michael joseph savage.

    ..but i think/fear shearer lacks both the intellect and the fire in the belly for the job..

    ..and he should be rolled..and replaced by cunnliffe..

    ..phillip ure..

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