Have the media finally learned to ask the right questions?


. planet key . When right-wing, normally pro-National,  columnists like the NZ Herald’s John Armstrong question the veracity of this government’s assertions, then it is another indication that things are not going well for John Key’s six-year old administration. Specifically, Armstrong’s questioning  Steven Joyce’s claim on 12 March that thousands of new jobs have been created in Northland;

When you add that to the 7,500 extra new jobs created in Northland in the last year, it is clear that the region is turning the corner and beginning to grow well.”

Armstrong replied two days later, lambasting the National Minister;

Deserving of special scrutiny is the repeated claim by Steven Joyce that 7500 new jobs were created in Northland last year. It certainly sounds impressive. The Economic Development Minister’s assertion is based on Statistics New Zealand’s household labour force survey. That indeed showed an increase of 7500 more people in employment in Northland at the end of last year as against the previous December. The survey, however, stipulates that anyone who does paid work for as little as one hour a week is classed as being in employment. When people talk about “new” jobs, they usually mean full-time or part-time with a reasonable number of hours. We simply do not know what types of jobs were actually created.

Note Armstrong’s comment; “The survey, however, stipulates that anyone who does paid work for as little as one hour a week is classed as being in employment”. He is indeed correct. Statistics NZ considers a person to be employed if they;

  • worked for one hour or more for pay or profit in the context of an employee/employer relationship or self-employment 
  • worked without pay for one hour or more in work which contributed directly to the operation of a farm, business, or professional practice owned or operated by a relative 

Note that a worker does not even have to be paid for Statistics NZ to consider you officially “employed”. Which Armstrong duly noted;

The risk of making bald assertions without qualification is underlined by the survey’s other finding that despite the apparent strong lift in employment, the number of unemployed in Northland fell by only about 100 during the same 12 months.

It is refreshing that some in the media are finally starting to pick up the mendacities of this government. Key and his cronies are simply not be be trusted and every utterance they make should be fact-checked. If an openly pro-National columnist understands that the governments claims are bogus, it should not be beyond the abilities of other journalists to undertake basic research as well. There is simply no excuse; the information is readily available through search engines. Even Cameron Slater has picked up on National’s blatant  propagandising and seems less than impressed. As I blogged in early February;

If the last six years have shown us one thing, it is that the next scandal and revelations of dodgy ministerial practices and inept Prime Ministerial behaviour is not too far away. The media are alerted. The public now have some awareness of dirty politics behind the scenes. And journalists are starting to exercise a form of collective memory. It is said that the public no longer care about politics, and that Key has “de-politicised” it. But, like the continuing bad stories that finally destroyed Jenny Shipley’s government, continuing negatives stories can have a corrosive effect on this government. The more times Key is caught out lying or being tricky with the truth or breaking promises – the more that the public will slowly but surely distrust his “brand”.

The loss of Northland will not only be damaging to the National government, it will be the clearest indication yet that the value of “Brand Key” has been  irrevocably tarnished and diminished. This will be Key’s final term in office.

Hat-tip: Maria Sherwood – ‎John Key has Let Down New Zealand



References National Party: Strong economic performance in Northland NZ Herald: John Armstrong – Questionable tactics in race for Northland votes Statistics NZ: […] Definitions Whaleoil: Wheels come off Steve Joyce’s Northland campaign Previous related blogposts Un-employment; under-employment; and the plain unvarnished truth Un-employment; under-employment; and the plain unvarnished truth*** UP DATE *** Roy Morgan Poll: Unemployment and Under-employment up in New Zealand! Witnessing the slow decay of a government past it’s Use-By date When the teflon is stripped away

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. 3000 more jobs - fantasy by J Key



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  1. Quite possibly true. However I believe this is also the hypothetical that you postulated at the start of the second term of National in 2011 or 2012. I’d agree that it is more likely to come true this time but less to do with what Key or National does and more to do with the fact that governments in NZ tend to have a natural lifespan of about 9 years.

    • Yes, it’s got nothing to do with John Key lying because we all know he doesn’t lie. It is in fact entirely due to the law of nature that says governments can’t last past 9 years.

  2. Not all journalists have developed a brain, Clair Trevett Fran o Sullivan
    say things that highlight the problems of Key but make excuses for the inexcusable.
    The rot however has set in at last, Winston Peters has stirred the pot and showing John Key for what he is,promising bridges but saying if we don’t vote for his candidate we get nothing, that’s what Northland has had for a long time,so we arnt missing anything.
    Key will pull out all the stops now to keep the Northland seat which he saw as his and took it for granted.
    Its to be wondered if he dislikes being at the beck and call of the ellitists,the end result might suit him but the present public dislike must be galling even though deserved.Winston deserves our support for hopefully stopping the rot.

  3. I too read Armstrong’s comments and it was quite surprising how spot on and to the point his analysis was. But where was he prior to the election?

    He’s just as likely to come out with an illogical piece that is an “all hands to the pump” rescue job for Key too when it suits.

  4. I can tell you that here in Northland we are most definitely in a situation where there is no work no matter what your background.

    From being fresh, young and new to the workforce to having gained years worth of skills, talent and experience there is next to nothing available if you are seeking employment.

    Vacancies are confronted with a regular 500+ applications and CVs which are near impossible for HR or employers to sift through fairly and I suspect from what I am hearing most positions are being filled by those somehow connected with the employer who are trusting a personal recommendation over embarking on a mammoth task of interviewing from such a pile.

    The old “It’s not what you know but who you know” concept is not uncommon and is nothing new but at such a high rate of employees applying for jobs there are many going without.

    National have no clue about the country they govern but here in Northland are simply out of their depth making promises that don’t even make any sense.

    You should have heard the crowd groan when at the Q&A meeting at Kerikeri the other night National candidate Osbourne started to speak about the Puhoi to Wellsford upgrade where he was almost shouted down from continuing his spiel. Almost as big a groan as when he refused to answer a question on mass surveillance referring them to the PM’s office and opening the door for the other candidates to attack.

  5. Frank, This blatant corrupt taxpayers bribe of Key using public purse must have a title to make stick to Key for historical purposes.

    We and our Northland warrior (Winston ) now will need a solid enduring title of Key’s latest bridge bribe crime such as: “Bridge-gate” “Bridge water””North Bridge” bribe ?
    Last one I offer is “Bridges bribe” after Simon Bridges?
    Any others people?

    • Remember Simon Bridges referring questions about Northlands promised road upgrades BEFORE the election? He said speak to Brownleee who had made the promises…..In other words, naff off !!!

      And NOW the Natz have the gaul…..neigh STUPIDITY to believe that we in Northland will accept their HOLLOW promises.

      I told the candidate when he asked me to vote for him, he was a lying so and so about claiming not to know about Sabin before the election (yet allowing him to be in oversight of the Police who were investigating him !!), and just copying Mr Key’s deny everything (Baldrick) tactic shows him to be as corrupt as JohnXkeyscore Key, the man who was going to resign if we found him out lying about Mass Surveillance…..YET ANOTHER LIE.
      This Government is crocked to the core, and the Governor General should close them down. But I guess he’s too busy counting his salary and hiding from ‘war crimes’ allegations to CARELESS about NZ democracy.
      The sooner Key goes back to Hawaii and collects his ’20 pieces of silver ‘from the Americans (for selling out NZ) the better for NZ and our democracy.

    • Now – I like the idea of naming each and every one of those bridges as a commemoration… to the desperation and the ensuing lies, bribes and deceit as a fitting memorial to this National govts being the most corrupt govt this country has ever known.

      It was a tradition last century with many in the primary industry’s.

      Bridge’s Bribe.

      Joyce’s Jibe

      Key’s Precipice

      Osbourne’s Descent

      English’s Lament

      Bennet’s Blowout

      Brownlee’s Ballsup

      Finlayson’s Fiddle

      Ede’s Retreat

      However there is one last bridge on the list that should be named in honor of the man who will eventually set in motion the release from the grip of this odious compilation of corruption ….

      And that should aptly be named…..

      Winnie’s Wrath.

  6. Picture this ?

    Rats are swimming from a sinking ship.

    That’s a seven word sentence describing the entire relationship between the MSM and National / Neo liberalism .

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