MEDIAWATCH: On Jacinda, Transparency & the 3 censors – a response to Andrea Vance’s journalistic warning  


A very important contribution from Andrea Vance this weekend on the brutal censorship now hanging over this Government…

This Government promised to be open and transparent, but it is an artfully-crafted mirage

From the moment she took office in 2017, Jacinda Ardern promised her government would be the most open and transparent New Zealand has seen.

In her first formal speech to Parliament she pledged: “This government will foster a more open and democratic society. It will strengthen transparency around official information.”

Since then the numbers of faceless communications specialists have skyrocketed. The Government’s iron grip on the control of information has tightened.

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And it is now harder than ever to get information.

This year, I have made more complaints to the Ombudsman than in any previous year. So far, every one has been upheld.

… Vance makes excellent point after excellent point detailing the lack of oversight and censorship the Wellington Bureaucrats weld now with the terrifying regularity.

Vance is one of the most important political journalists we have, her views should carry immense weight.

Watching Wellington Coms people on Twitter justify their refusal to give Andrea Vance information has been quite a journey!

While she is right to point out the discrepancy between transparency rhetoric and transparency practice, I think dumping it all at Jacinda’s feet misses the 3 true influencers of this censorship.

When Key was in power, the Bureaucracy didn’t give two shits if the media discovered them abusing prisoners, state house tenants, beneficiaries, Maori or the poor because John Key didn’t give a fuck about them either. With Jacinda’s kindness however, she does give a shit about those abuses of power and so in a perverse way, the Bureaucracy works overtime to hide any of those examples from the media knowing the PMs Office will soon be on the phone demanding answers. The lengths the NZ neoliberal Bureaucracy will go to avoid accountability are unmeasurable. They censor everything so that Jacinda doesn’t find out about it, not the other way around.

Dumb Labour Tribalism does come into this. Some Labour MPs are so hell bent to defend Jacinda they act like dick heads. The embarrassing shambles the Health Select Committee descended into because Labour MPs were attempting to deny the Opposition any chance to ask questions was insulting and outrageous!

The other factor is brutal pragmatism. The politicians know public health has been so horrifically underfunded that a mass vaccination roll out will cause a cascade of failures – keeping the public in the dark about those failures is now seen as important to keep public good will on side in the middle of what is still a pandemic.

This third influence is the most insidious while the need for Bureaucrats to hide things from Jacinda is the most widespread reason.

Blaming Jacinda as Vance has done is easy, defining who is actually doing the censorship is more difficult and requires a view from outside the parliamentary beltway where the state and the government are seen as two separate entities.

This is less about Government hiding its intentions and more about Bureaucrats hiding their intentions from the Government.

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  1. While houses prices and rents continue to rise Labour is safe . This is why they are so slow on building new homes. Eventually as the new tax rules start to hit home interest rates increase and the bubble goes pop the natives will get restless . The longer this takes the more chance National will sort themselves out and will look attractive again .

    • If a government is stupid enough to once again implement austerity and cut the budget that will surely bring about even more crises. I mean can you lot actually put 2+2 together or what???

  2. If the Bureaucrats can hide information from Jacinda Ardern then that’s an indictment on Ardern.
    She’s the Prime Minister?

    • I keep forgetting that Adern is clairvoyant as well as having xray vision.. Do you ever actually read your comments before posting them? I would advise you to start doing that…
      Of course, if it had been pony boy(Key) or the Collins construct that was being kept in the dark, you, and your bovine tory herd would be screaming for the heads of the Bureaucrats responsible for this disloyal behavior to be stuck on pikes outside parliament house… Grow up..

    • Theoretically yes because of the way the cistern has been designed @John since the 80s reforms. But as Stefan says, JA is not clairvoyant. Gatekeeping has become so manipulative and normal – despite all that “no surprises” shit. If she only knew some of the antics that go on – but then again, it’s not in a politicians interests to know. There are CEOs and others in senior ranks that have no business in being PS, or EVER being PS in the future. The minute a few Ministers wake up to that fact is the minute we’ll begin to make progress.
      Let me know if you want some examples. We could start with some masters-of-the Universe that fuck up their budgets, then go round asking their underlings to do some shady stuff to make things all look pretty, knowing full well that it won’t be them that have to carry the can.

    • Who needs beuracrats when Vance has inside knowledge she shares, with say the likes of Peter Dunne. Remember that John or are you too young? Is Vance the most transparent or the biggest hypocrite? As mentioned a tory pole through and through.

  3. Knowing Vances work like I do, it was always going to be a stick to beat Adern with.. Vance IS still one of the tory poodles after all.. While her staff has given her a real story to tell, she shows her limits by taking the easy, and politically expedient path by deliberately oversimplifying her conclusions.. So yet again, a serious issue that needs addressing in a mature, and rational way gets used as a political weapon, which, of course, makes for just another unneeded shit fight over what amounts to a hill of beans..

    • Is anyone else worried that covid vaccine for people over 65 with serious health condition has been deferred to August and possibly later in the year? I got a real shock when that was announced on 6pm news TV3 last Friday night – being over 65 with serious health conditions I’m wondering why our age group who have been identified as being at risk of being seriously sick if we get covid have been pushed back? Who makes these decisions?

  4. Increasingly I see a growing divide between Governance and Management – it is apparent in companies, schools, hospitals, and government. Management especially want to protect their ‘turf’ from elected boards of ‘amateurs’. Long ago managements disregarded the value of ‘staff’, often seeing them as only ‘cost units’. We now see management stonewalling government and boards so as they can implement their own agendas (Yes Minister). I think we are currently seeing a lot of this stonewalling by government department heads, who are more likely to be Right than Left leaning. An investgative journslist worth their title should be exposing this.

  5. This is what Winston Peters referred to as ‘mushroom politics’.
    In other words keeping them in the dark.
    Dear old winnie. He never gave a straight answer, but he allways had an answer. I reckon some in the media will miss him when compared to this current lot in Labour. Like him or not, Winston had a way of holding the rest to account the way the media couldn’t. Besides the Maori party, its someone like him we are now missing in parliament.

    • Control denied: “….its someone like him we are now missing in parliament.”

      If the government had been upfront about He Puapua, and briefed Winston on its recommendations (and the implications thereof) prior to the 2020 election, it’s very likely that the outcome of that election would have been radically different. Winston would certainly still be in Parliament.

      I’ve read Andrea Vance’s piece. Matching that up with all the other evidence we’ve seen over the past several years, in my view Martyn’s being too lenient on Ardern. She heads this government and must take responsibility for both its multiple failures and its utter failure to hold itself accountable. And its unwillingness to allow anyone in the 4th estate to hold it accountable.

      Just by itself, He Puapua is a signal illustration of Ardern’s duplicity. Do not trust her or her government.

      • spot on D’Esterre. The duplicitous response by Ardern and her government to the Christchurch massacre meant a complete loss of respect on my part for this Labour Government.Commission of Inquiry ? Closed to the public . Report from Commission not made fully public. Ignoring firearms experts ? arrogant, ignorant and downright stupid.Result a growing black market in firearms in NZ that did not previously exist. An unworkable set of of firearms regulations ripe for abuse by the NZ police? done. Shit laws by by a shit government.

        • No I don’t trust her. I’ve never voted for her. I gave Winnie my vote in 2017 and voted Greens last election. Ardern said her government was going to be transparent but then wouldn’t say which way she would vote in the cannabis referendum until after the election. And anyone who says she was entitled to not disclose her vote on cannabis prior to the referendum yes but note she was happy to declare she would vote yes for euthanasia prior to that referendum. Double standard.

  6. Yo Bomber can you please do a piece on how every extra cent labour is pretending to give beneficiaries msd is clawing back from top ups and in some cases people are going to end up worse like this year’s inflation increase actually took more away from people from their TAS and AS and Labour KNOWS this Jacinda has used this as an excuse for not raising benefits in the past because msd ruthlessly claws back any increases to core. This is all a spin and pr stunt from a govt that was desperate to chill out it’s left flank. They haven’t increased benefits at all. The only times they have were the increase last year during covid and the winter energy. If this increase was a stimulus why is it taking a damn year and why is it taking a year to give out money if winz is juts gonna take it. Someone needs to put the pressure on these idiots a year is plenty of time to ring fence it because not only are winz gonna claw back the increases landlords will raise rents think people are getting money they aren’t getting.,%2425%20per%20adult%20a%20week.

  7. Perhaps Martyn but whilst Jacinda takes no action agaiinst this situation, like for example Clark did under the “No Surprises” internal policy. Jacinda tacitly endorses and supports what is tantamount to a personal information protection service that exists solely to run interferance on statistics that show her failed policy.

  8. So. Who runs the country. The government or the bureaucrats.
    If it is the bureaucracy as you seem to implicate, perhaps to deflect blame, then why are you not advocating to destroy that bureaucracy.
    I guess the answer will be redacted.
    Why would anyone defend these faceless pricks.
    Who are the real threats to society. Keep asking that question please.

  9. Andrea pointed out the large increase in advisors for this government. Funny how with more people in the bureaucracy the Official Information requests are taking longer to process. Must be an inverse relationship.

  10. Andrea pointed out the large increase in advisors for this government. Funny how with more people in the bureaucracy the Official Information requests are taking longer to process. Must be an inverse inverse relationship.

  11. ” ……………………… defining who is actually doing the censorship is more difficult and requires a view from outside the parliamentary beltway where the state and the government are seen as two separate entities.”
    That’s true to an extent, however a number of failings in government agencies are actually a matter of record – be they in The Ministry for Everything, MSD, Health, Housing, NZTA, Krekshuns, and elsewhere.
    Chippie’s Public Service reforms were so weak as to be next to useless and I’m not sure why the core of who should be reasonably competent Labour Ministers just can’t see the bleeding bloody obvious at times. They may think it expedient in the short term, but it’ll jump up and bite them in the bum before too long – and deservedly so.

  12. This was a spiteful hissy fit from a journalist who clearly got turned down over a request. You should read Gerard Otto’s take on it, or listen to media roundup for balance.


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