MEDIAWATCH: How the NZ Media helped National trick you over their tax lie


Many voters felt deceived when the true nature of National’s tax cuts were revealed. Only 3000 rich landlords will gain the full $250 per fortnight that many voters thought they were getting.

It’s not just National being deceptive that you should be angry at, you should also be angry at the mainstream media who tricked you.

As Mediawatch on RNZ so devastatingly points out, many of them did…

Media shift blame for misleading tax policy headlines

This week political reporters seized on fresh figures showing the National Party overstated the benefits of its tax cut policy – and accused its leaders of misleading the public. Yet some of them had repeated the party’s spin in their own reports when it was unveiled a month ago – and even praised the ‘political marketing.’

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“The National Party has admitted that its much-feted tax cut of $250 a fortnight will only go to 3000 families. Despite knowing that number all along the party is denying it’s mislead the public,” Newshub at 6 told viewers on Thursday. 

The revelation followed research from the Labour Party-aligned Council of Trade Unions, and Newshub political reporters spent a full frustrating day trying to pin down National for a response. 

But when National’s policy was first announced back in early September to ease what the party dubbed “the squeezed middle” it included claims an “average income family” with children would benefit. 

But Newshub didn’t mention its own reporters were among those who feted the policy in the first place. 

And they weren’t the only ones to give National’s maximum fortnightly benefit headline billing when the policy was unveiled. 

Families in line for $250 a fortnight under National tax cut, said The Press. 

National promises $250 more a fortnight for average households, said

Election 2023: National’s tax plan offers average household with kids $250 and Kiwi worker $50 a fortnight, said The New Zealand Herald. 

Under that Herald headline the paper’s deputy political editor Thomas Coughlan pointed out “all the savings are expressed as fortnightly figures rather than weekly figures, making them look larger.” 

On Mediawatch, Hayden Donnell pointed out many reports also adopted the National Party’s preferred unit of measurement for people as well  – ‘households’ rather than individuals. 

Also, most reports neglected to mention the $250-a-fortnight saving for a qualifying family also included $150 from the already announced Family Boost tax credit scheme. That could also replace the 20 hours of free childcare for two year-olds announced in the Budget this year. 

But back then TVNZ’s political editor Jessica Mutch-McKay said “National’s Big Bang tax announcement was a good political move.” Stuff’s senior political correspondent Tova O’Brien said that National finance spokesperson Nicola Willis should get “a standing ovation” for it. 

And Newshub’s political editor Jenna Lynch told viewers it was “a masterclass in political marketing.” 

“National has taken what is in reality a $25-a-week tax cut for most middle earners, doubled it into a couple, doubled it into a fortnight and slapped in their childcare subsidy – and then all of a sudden they have a $250 figure to slap all over their billboards.”

At that time political reporters and pundits were focused on how National’s tax cuts could be funded and looking for fiscal holes rather than who might get the biggest benefit from policy. 

…that’s right. Jessica, Coughlan, The Press, The NZ Herald and all sold the spin, but look what happens when they realise the falsehood…

After the CTU claimed only about 3000 whānau would benefit to the tune of $250 a fortnight as advertised by National (and amplified in many headlines), Newshub’s Amelia Wade was clearly frustrated when trying to confirm the 3000 households claim.

“We sent the Council of Trade Unions’ numbers and workings to the National Party today in good faith so that they had adequate time to respond. But instead of responding they fired off a conspiratorial PR … trying to pin that on the Labour Party,” she reported on Wednesday. 

The next day her political editor Jenna Lynch accused National of “smearing the source” rather than answering Newshub’s questions and published the defensive responses Nicola Willis had sent her by text message. 

When Willis did eventually confirm the CTU’s figure on RNZ’s Midday Report on Wednesday, she insisted the National Party had been careful to say all along that households would get “up to $250 a fortnight.” 

But soon after, Newstalk ZB news said party leader Chris Luxon omitted the qualifier in the first TVNZ live leaders’ debate. 

The same night TVNZ’s 1 News ran a montage of other examples.  

This weekend’s Newshub Nation show did the same and said the National Party Instagram feed was still publicising the $250 figure without any “up to …” context. That was also removed shortly after the programme aired on Saturday morning. 

“Effectively what they were doing with all that ‘up to $250’ is like an old retail technique, having an up to ‘80 percent off’ sale and then only having one item in the store with that,” she said on Newshub at 6.

That was a bit of a crude comparison. National’s tax calculator shows other families might still get substantial benefit, if not the maximum.

But Lynch also pointed out that National’s online calculator did not specify that the childcare rebate only applied to early childhood education costs for under five-year-olds. 

It prompted the National Party to amended the calculator to give more clarity and accuracy. 

One month on from the launch of the tax policy, Lynch was clearly no longer as impressed with what she had deemed “a political marketing masterstroke” when it was first unveiled.

“$250 that is massive money. Genius,” she said at that time. 

On Newstalk ZB last Thursday, the network’s political editor Jason Walls also said it was “a trick of marketing.” 

“But people do have a bit of a responsibility to work this out by themselves,” he said. 

“You can’t just rely on seeing an ad and being like: ‘Oh, that’s probably me. I’m gonna get the $250,” he said.

People should indeed be wary when political parties are presenting their policies. 

But many people heard those favorable figures – and the assertion that ‘average’ families would benefit – from media reports repeating National’s words and numbers last month uncritically. 

And also from political editors, some of who praised the party for putting the numbers and words together like that with effective ‘political marketing.’

…no mention ion how they promoted the Tax lie.

The media have done a very poor job of political journalism this election and allowed talking points to go unchallenged.

When Seven Sharp and the Project are our standards for current affairs, you appreciate how stupid the electorate really is.


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  1. that’s right. Jessica, Coughlan, The Press, The NZ Herald and all sold the spin, but look what happens when they realise the falsehood

    But of course first Jessica then Tova showed absolutely no bias when dealing with the inept Labour morons, specifically your vapid BFF Ardern.

    • That’s a typical National supporter response when they realise their team, claiming to be better managers of the economy, are actually full of it. Deflection without actual examples.

  2. A rule of thumb up to the median wage about $10 a week (IETC) and above the median wage to about $120,000 around $25 a week.

    Labour increases the MW by $1 or more each year $40 a week – ACT wants 3 yuears of zero increase and National wants ones well below a dollar an hour. Either way of a lot of people get more from Labour increasing the MW than anything in these tax cuts.

    Labour’s FPA Industry Awards will also deliver real wage increases to workers in many sectors (including those not in unions).

    Public sector workers, teachers and nurses etc, will know the National record from 2008-2017 ….

    How workers could vote NACT is beyond me.

  3. Lloyd Burr and Amelia Wade are tge standout reporters at the moment…..and for all his faults, Paddy Gower made a fair fist of moderating the 2nd debate..

    Jessic Mutch McKay is basically a promotion conduit for the National Party ..

    The vacuous bland questions she asked in the first debate i.e,…what do you like about each other?..what book are you currently reading? etc..yawn… nullified Chippy’s firepower of talking about the serious issues where Luxon is clueless…

    She went further, even telling Luxon she was loving his energy…that’s a WTF moment ..

    The other day she was doibg National’s work by telling Hipkins that people want change….
    really?….none of the people i know agree with that.!!

    As pointed out in the Radio N.Z article she is just one of many examples where you have, supposedly, unbiased journalists using their own priveliged positions to push their own preferences and agendas…it’s a disgrace!

    • Really astute observations there Grant. It’s such a shame that Jessica MM is moderating Thursday’s leader debate. There was a tonne of outcry all over social media about her ineptitude, lack of objectivity, and shallow questions during the first leaders’ debate.

  4. It would be helpful if the media told how poorly underfunded the health system was in the 9 years of a National government and how it has taken record funding by Labour for new and renovated buildings, pay equity and wages for staffing to match Australia. Labour are part way through rebuilding the damage National caused . That cannot be denied by media or the very gullible right.

    • Wow so record funding for poorer outcomes.

      Labours ‘go to’ has always been measuring everything on funding, why never results? Because they know funding gets soaked up by their elite Wellington managerial class, who just love Labour as it means two overseas holidays a year rather than one.

      • Wow you certainly can’t read. Plenty of positive outcomes but clearly with your right wing head in the sand you see nothing. Naive or disingenuous, either way two overseas holidays a year is Nationals domain. Now was that Hawaii twice a year or Te Puke?
        At least you didn’t attempt to deny the underfunding of health for 9 years and very poor outcomes, of which everyone can agree.

    • Lol.
      So your sensational managers of money and health – Labour have improved our health system have they?
      Every metric possible shows it’s worse.

      Complete muppets.

  5. Martyn – Main Stream Media role during the lockdowns was poor, never really questioning, or holding to account the NZ Government…

    • Bollocks. The media went out of their way to find any managed isolation dirt they could, and seemed critical of government money going to companies that may not have needed it but never once seemed to question the morality of the arseholes in those companies

    • You are joking..right?..

      Did you not watch the relentless month in month out 2 hour press standups every day to a packed media room constantly throwing myriads of questions at Jacinda and Ashley Bloomfield and other experts when required.

      There are so many people out there with either selective, or, no memory of what actually happened and why N.Z had one of the best Covid response results in the world..

  6. During John Key’s Govt it seemed to me that many on the Right actively condoned his lies and obvious deceit. Their attitude seemed to be that it was a commendable political skill to out-manoeuvre the Left with half-truths and outright deceit. Nothing much has changed, it seems.

    • Yes and Audrey Young was in Keys back pocket such was her adulation for Key
      and we all remember Barry Sopers Friday night late drinks in Keys Beehive office .
      Perhaps those making comment about Tova and Jessica( who were simply doing their job) should think twice about commenting if comparing it to the love fest and bromance the media had with Key.

  7. This is what happens when you allow your media from papers to radio to TV to be bundled up by a couple of players and then understaff all the newsrooms and the newsroom staff you do hire are overworked and in many cases barely graduated and or have a tenuous understanding of public interest journalism.

    Most of our political reporters didn’t even do the bare minimum of a pol science paper at university, they don’t understand politics other than marketing.

    They don’t have the time energy, knowledge or skills to do anything more than surface level reporting and even then, they just copy paste the surface level reporting of their peers.

    The tax policy being a marketing scam was clear from announcement, which tells us they didn’t even have their newsroom interns read the policy before writing articles praising it.

    The only reason they are coming out and criticizing it now is because they are basically copying and pasting the work of someone who did finally read the policies.

    And it’s only going to get worse, anyone interested in media can see that with the closure of local media and cannabilism of media companies, very few young people are dumb enough to waste their money on getting a degree in journalism or broadcasting, the ones are dumb enough…. Make the project and buzz feed look like the journos who investigated and broke Watergate.

    It’s about to get even dumber.

  8. Yes, people want change has been rolled out, but the problem is the change they will get will be a shock if they elect Act and National. Our media are shockingly bias as I listened to that twat Ingrid on RNZ this morning interview Hipkins and her demeanor was totally different to her interview with Luxon. She was horrid how she got that job I don’t know she should stick to doing the weather. I say this because she was doing Nationals job for them instead of being impartial with her line of questioning and not allowing Hipkins to finish his sentences, yet she let Luxon waffle on and on and on.

  9. “. . . the true nature of National’s tax cuts were revealed.“

    It’s about five minutes of primary school arithmetic to “reveal”. Scary that it’s seen as being difficult.

  10. What nasty, devious, dirty, cynical, fucking bastards! To think we pay them in good faith to do this shit to us!

  11. Vino damn right !

    “But back then TVNZ’s political editor Jessica Mutch-McKay said “National’s Big Bang tax announcement was a good political move.” Stuff’s senior political correspondent Tova O’Brien said that National finance spokesperson Nicola Willis should get “a standing ovation” for it.

    And Newshub’s political editor Jenna Lynch told viewers it was “a masterclass in political marketing.”

    Mutch McKay showed her organisations bias which began to be more intense when Don Brash became leader of the National party in 2003 when she said and I quote ” that’s not fair to the National party ” when responding to Arden and Davis in an interview when they were critising the then Nasty Natz government in 2017.

    I complained at this outrageous bias from a public broadcaster but my complaint was not upheld and I knew that it would not be given the regime that controls what the NZ people rely on as their independent bias free fourth estate that is one of the pillars of so called democracy in this country.

    It is the deliberate propaganda for only one party National. Its obvious that we do live in what the NZ Herald called a one party state….the New Zealand National party.

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