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…
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.’
“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 Interest.co.nz.
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 Interest.co.nz 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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