Melissa Lee ends transmission, Dear Goldie…


Open Letter to the Minister for Media and Communications

Hon.  Melissa Lee  Paul Goldsmith

Parliament Buildings, Wellington.

Tena koe

Commiserations Mr Goldsmith on your appointment yesterday to the Media and Communications portfolio. No one in Cabinet deserves this – and no-one outside Cabinet either (going by Melissa Lee’s demotion). She was hopeless as you must know. She sounded completely hopeless in public, an airhead, every second word was ‘actually’ and her thoughts empty. This is what I mean, from The Spinoff interview of 28/02/2024:

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ML: Well, I think, when you actually talk in terms of television there’s only going to be one television as in mainstream. I mean, there’s also Sky. But, I think more and more, the media landscape is actually changing and I think that’s what I actually said when I was stopped at the black and white tiles as I was heading into the house. It’s not just television… actually radio is doing video, as well as newspapers are doing video. Everything is actually becoming a more multimedia platform. 

And everyone’s going online, and actually becoming more digital. I think that is the signal that perhaps we are behind the times… I think this is not just a New Zealand problem, but it’s a global problem that the media is actually facing. And, you know, in terms of plurality, I have to say that I’m actually quite happy with the plurality we’ve got. We’ve got great journalists at many different media companies who actually do a great job. As an MP, I may not sometimes like the kind of interviews that I get, or how it’s actually portrayed sometimes, but I think they do a fantastic job. And I just hope that the public supports the media that we have. I think… there’s been some issues in terms of the PIJF [the Public Interest Journalism Fund] and how that actually turned the media into so-called “not the trustworthy types”.

If this actually was a drinking game everyone would be blotto within a minute, it would just be shot after shot non-stop. Yes, I know, you had to put up with it in Cabinet committees and it’s not funny when you have to listen to vacuous prattle like that for more than five minutes in real life, but it would make for the most obliterating drinking game ever, serious fun.

She didn’t seem to know anything or care. Surprising how out of touch she seemed, you’d think a six term MP would have more sense of retail politics at least. Six terms as an MP eh – ‘mazing! That’s John Banks’ saying: “’mazing!” I thought I better pepper this letter with familiar phrases of people you’ve written biographies on to create a subconscious affinity with propositions you’d naturally hate. Serious Fun being your biography of Alan Gibbs of course.

She was so vague in describing it I’m guessing her Cabinet Paper is just an official’s meandering legislative review process of the various media laws with no fixed timeline or outcomes. She reluctantly was going along with the previous Minister, Willie Jackson’s, Fair Digital Media Bargaining Bill for now because she didn’t know what else to do. And she explained this too – that she didn’t know what she was doing, wait and see. Reading the Briefing to Incoming Ministers and considering the fact she has never said anything other than what is contained in those powerpoint style tables leads to the conclusion she had never developed anything herself and was obviously a back seat passenger in this vehicle driven at school zone speeds by the same bureaucrats who brought us the doomed TVNZ-RNZ merger.

She never addressed the immediate issue of news and current affairs – this was the crisis after all not the technical details of how the Broadcasting Standards Authority and the Censor’s office would sit in new legislation etc.  Indeed, her responses were disturbingly blithe: no commitments just hope, no commitment even to freely accessible TVNZ let alone news and maybe some current affairs. For your amusement, Minister, here is the exchange on the TVNZ breakfast show of 11/03/2024:

Should New Zealanders expect have access to free-to-air news and maybe some current affairs?

Lee: I would hope so.

In terms of free to air what does that look like to you? TVNZ has a statement of intent that refers to our content as being readily accessible, presumably that means to all Kiwis, so would that include free-to-air television?

Lee: Well ready accessibility would actually mean that it is free, right, or you know it could be behind a paywall, but it is available – they have connectivity.

Well a paywall would imply you have to pay for it so that wouldn’t be readily accessible for all New Zealanders?

Lee: The majority yes. But yeah, free to air is something that I actually support.

The way her eyes fluttered and drifted up to access the imagination part of the brain (and away from the logic side) right at the start of her simply idiotic comment that TVNZ could be freely behind a paywall is a small taste perhaps of the sort of calibre of thinking you had to endure from her for the last 150 days and accounts persuasively why she is out of Cabinet. Clare Curran eat your heart out. Your colleague seems to have left the portfolio exactly in the same state as she found it without having made any decisions or taken any actions whatsoever. She came in with a blank slate and left you with it, still blank despite the 100 days of action and 50 days of media meltdown.

On the matter of government policy: despite your coalition arrangements being silent, NZ First has a Parliamentary Under-Secretary to assist the Minister because NZ First has a very comprehensive media and broadcasting policy and their leader has made in that regard many highly emotional and intemperate, borderline paranoid, remarks that we treasure and value as rhetorical taonga of a historic figure. Alarmingly, as far as his concern about media neutrality goes he is probably behind public opinion if you believe the recent research on perceptions of bias.

National and Act have no policy. No policy publicly released that can be found online. Ben Thomas (in the last Gone By Lunchtime podcast) reckons Ms Lee had plenty of policy to share with him in discussion before the election, but he stated they were not releasing it because it would intrude on the narrow focus campaign they were running. Either Mr Thomas is mistaken and Ms Lee was entranced in an eye-fluttering discourse on sublime illogicalities  that was not official National policy or there is a secret National media policy – those are the two options. Even if the latter were correct, it is clear that the policy was not advanced by her… at all…in any way. You know if National has a media policy or not, but NZ First definitely does.

The one thing you have got, Minister, is a breathing space of a few weeks to formulate a coherent plan. Replacing the Minister has bought precious grace time. My guess is that your response to the news side of the crisis will be expected to be addressed at the Prime Minister’s quarterly tempo of chunked-down decision gates (is that the right expression?), meaning a plan signed off at the end of June that will be whole of portfolio and include the consolidated media bill and the news plan, but after a couple of weeks there should be a structure to what that plan looks like. There’s not much time to save furniture in this raging house fire.

July 5th is when Warner Bros. will kill Newshub and the would-be scabs at Stuff will take over with their amateur hour. You know what day it is in America on that day? It will be the 4th of July – their independence day – and over here it will be the day an American company killed off the non-state TV news service. I think NZ First will have something to say about that and it is important they do because not all their policies are anathema to National and some of them are beneficial to journalism.

On the 10th of this month Newshub and TVNZ essentially abandoned news as a serious component of any future programming. Before that occurred, I had written an open letter published on The Daily Blog to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary in your portfolio recommending a reformed Broadcasting Commission (NZ On Air) funded by a licence fee which is paid by the importer and giving the buyers of the devices a vote on members of the Commission. This will save $180m a year from the budget and provide democratic oversight away from the government of the day. Raising the cost of a device by about 10% (that would produce $180m) seems a small imposition for independent media funding and frees up a billion dollars over the next five years. Pity your government seems hellbent on giving these savings to the landlords, but that’s up to your colleagues and their brass necks. This is the sort of change we need to restore integrity into the funding system and by extension into the news media.

Good luck, Mr Goldsmith.


  1. “I might not like the questions I get”. How very Winston. The problem is you don’t have any answers it’s not the question that’s the real issue. This government is a joke. They are even worse than the last lot. Regressive self serving a’holes.

  2. By the way the “decisive” ,this is how he rolls, PM just 12 days ago said he would not be removing Lee. Was this his decision? What was the paper left on Winnie’s desk?

      • The tribalist left KCCO clutching at the indefensible. Nothing unusual at his attempting to attack the left for appalling National failures, of which there are hundreds.

      • Wouldn’t know. I can only conclude you are the tribalist as you somehow saw Luxon as decisive. What in his political history would give you that idea? There were a number of occasions where he “clarified” for “expressing himself wrongly.” The Winston link is hardly radical. What did Lee do in the last 12 days to end up walking back to the pavilion?

  3. I think you’ll find that this actually is literally an actual, honest-to-god, literal clownshow.

  4. First they came for the public sector and Melissa actually said nothing, then they came for Melissa and that’s how they roll, apparently.

  5. You might as well seal your letter to Goldsmith in a bottle and toss it into the tide, Martyn, for all the good it will do.
    Unless it prompts Goldie to invite Murdock (in the shape of Fox News) into the country – and then we’ll well and truly be in the shit!

    • Goldstain has already admitted he won’t listen to a gang members submission to banning patches as he said it will offer little value.
      This confirms that Goldstain won’t follow the democratic process and his dictatorship style trumps all others. All you need to know about Goldstain and the National governments dictatorship right there.

  6. Bryce Edwards is praising Luxon to the hilt as showing strong, brutal leadership etc etc etc.
    I will only be inclined to believe Edwards when Luxon shows equally ‘brutal and strong’ leadership with one of his coalition partners’ ministers in cabinet rather than give them the wet bus ticket treatment.
    eg. Dr Porn Pork. Slice the ham off, Christopher, and show us you are less of a misogynist and really are a brutal butcher!

  7. Going good,going strong is our Prime Minister Luxon,more done in a few months than Labour achieved in 6 years,in fact Labour took us backwards.By the way where is the Labour Opposition,what’s left of them,they have gone silent.

    • More turd polishing done in the last six months with the PM looking more like a homesick turd every day

    • Yes Bob more damage done by PM Luxon in a few months than Labour achieved in 6 years.
      Luxon’s cuts in health will result in deaths. You should be proud of that Bob the thick.
      The opposition is silent because they need not do anything, this government and leader are fucking EVERYTHING up so its self destruction. But those with any intelligence new this was only a one term Government. Labour will be required to come in and fix up the mess left behind by National(again).

        • Your delusions continue Bob tf, please call the 0800 mental health line.

      • “New.”
        NSC don’t use the word intelligence in your comments given you are tested by even the simplest of spelling and grammar.
        Did you attend High School?

        • Well that’s rather shallow and hypocritical coming from you Bob given your grammatical errors over the past few years. Appalling grammar and clearly my intellect challenges your lack of education. You should be embarrassed. Stick to your crayon’s young lad or at least get your mother( when you find out who she is) to help out.

          • I repeat NSC I’m a man of letters which you are most definitely not.
            Is English your first language.

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