Radio Wammo: Glenn Williams hosts State Of It, a weekly look at politics with Scoop’s Selwyn Manning as New Zealand enters an election campaign before the public gets to vote on November 26. This week: The Prime Minister’s Positive Spin A Matter Of Public Interest.
So much so, that it has become a matter of public interest.
We saw a glimpse of this problem in the introduction. But it all began on Tuesday last week when Labour’s finance spokesperson David Cunlffe asked the Prime Minister during Parliament’s question time: Is it his policy to “muddle through” the current economic uncertainty?
The Prime Minister John Key replied: No, the Government has actively taken a number of steps to ensure New Zealand can minimise any fall-out from global economic events.
It all sounded particularly convincing especially when the Prime Minister began to enjoy himself detailing the positive outcomes that the National-led Government had supposedly achieved in recent times:
7:27 to 8:33
That’s enough indeed.
If we were to take the Prime Minsiter at his word, then the economy must be heading in the right direction. Certainly the Prime Minister was up-beat and positive that his Government was well on track to meet Treasury projections as presented in the 2011 May Budget, and on track to create the promised 170,000 new jobs in a few years time.
Well, that was Tuesday.
Within 24 hours in an interview with Radio LIVE the Finance Minsiter Bill English was far more cautious:
1:02 to 1:47
The Finance Minister went further in an extended interview with 3News’ political editor Duncan Garner, where he admitted meeting the promise to create 170,000 new jobs would be a challenge:
3:31 to 4:15
For those who wished to look… clearly the Prime Minister and Finance Minister are on a different page. One of them has to be right. Is John Key being overly positive to the point where he is misleading Parliament, painting an inflated rosy picture? Or is Bill English merely being a doom merchant?
This is how Duncan Garner saw it:
1:45 to 2:16
That was Thursday. Later that afternoon the Labour Party leader Phil Goff began disecting John Key’s claims in Parliament that the economy was sailing along well, despite a looming double-dip recession threatening the global economy:
8:44 to 9:55
If New Zealanders were confused as to who was correct when assessing the New Zealand economy, they certainly gained some clarity by Friday.
By Friday, international credit rating agencies Fitch and Standard and Poors downgraded the New Zealand credit rating from a AA+ to AA. This is how 3News reporter Patrick Gower reported it:
But after hosting an hour slot free-be on Radio LIVE, the Prime Minister had only this to say:
0:47 to 1:09
And before the Prime Minsiter left for Sydney Australia to watch the NRL grand finals, the Finance Minister felt compelled to send a particularly direct message to the public seeking their help to avert a significant economic downturn:
1:31 to 2:01
Despite the Prime Minister’s strategy to positively spin any news irrespective of how dire it is… This past week could be described as a week from hell for the National-led Government. But as we know, a news cycle is particularly short-lived. And the Polls do not indicate that voters are noticing.
Certainly if any press gallery journalists were intent on asking the Prime Minister more questions on his take on the New Zealand economy, they were going to be disappointed.
Why you might ask?
Well, the answer is simple… Because the Prime Minister did not hold his usual post-Cabinet press conference as he decided to stay in Sydney a little longer, to enjoy a long weekend, and return to New Zealand late on Monday afternoon.
What’s the state of that?
In my view, especially this close to an election, a prime minister should make himself as available as is possible to media, so that the voting public can evaluate the Government’s performance and vote in a manner that displays informed choice.
To refuse to front up to media on this issue but rather attend a Rugby League game, to refuse to front up to 3News’ invitations to appear on The Nation current affairs programme, to not attend Cabinet after such a week in politics, is an abuse of his responsibilities and is a matter of public interest.
And Glenn, thats the State Of It for this week.