- Neil Watts, Blogger, Fearfactsexposed
Little wonder Fairfax Media are struggling financially and virtually giving their publications away to attract subscribers.
Consistently failing to provide their readers with the news – if the news is damaging to their friends in the National Party – means that Fairfax Media’s credibility as a news provider is poor, and declining.
While less partisan news media jumped immediately on the third poll in a month showing National’s support crumbling, Fairfax avoided the story, as they have done with other polls that are unfavourable to their mates on the Right.
While this highly newsworthy story led the political news on TV last night, as well as on the New Zealand Herald website and Radio New Zealand, Fairfax once again applied the eerie Orwellian denial they have used in the past when a news item doesn’t suit their political agenda.
Predictably, when stuff.co.nz finally got around to mentioning the poll just before 9am today – some 15 hours after their rivals – it was only to provide readers with the National Party’s spin on the results, with a piece heavily dominated by John Key’s response.
As usual, the Opposition were completely sidelined from Fairfax’s story, and more importantly, the major implications of the latest poll – that Labour and the Greens could form a centre-Left government with a combination of support partners - were completely avoided. This angle is so obvious to any real journalist, that Fairfax again show their desire to provide propaganda over news, by avoiding it all together. As I noted here three weeks ago, after they avoided reporting on another negative poll for National, this illustrates exactly why such powerful, biased media corporations are a very real danger to our democracy. By stifling the debate, controlling the message, and starving the Opposition of comment, media organisations like Fairfax can and do have a frightening influence on our freedom.
Remember how their brainfart polls told readers over and over how the National Party were going to romp back into the Beehive last year? In detailed analysis of the reasons why New Zealanders didn’t vote, it was found that “a large proportion of non-voters cited the polls predicting the National Party’s victory, and decided the election was a foregone conclusion. The percentage of non-voters who said this was a factor was far higher in 2011 than in 2008″, according to The New Zealand Herald.
Critics at the time – myself included – noted the flawed methodology of these polls, and suggested that they were designed more to influence rather than inform voters. The resulting election turnout was the lowest in 120 years, with the supposably invincible National Party pushed much closer than the polls had suggested. Funny that, when their chums in the National Party are riding high in the polls, stuff.co.nz and the Dom Post can’t find a font big enough, but when the news is bad…well, it just ain’t news. Orwellian, Fairfaxian, call that what you will
Following a week where their political editor was heavily criticised for providing the Prime Minister with a series of glowing PR pieces as she escorted him around Europe, and where the most damaging elements of a number of issues were avoided, this is not a good look for Fairfax. Last week, they effectively ran the spin for John Key on the class size backdown, painting Key as “a leader who listens”, complete with a leading survey. They neglected to mention that the “listening leader” is ignoring New Zealanders over asset sales, and dodged figures picked up by other media showing that power prices would rise significantly once the assets were privatised. As if all of this isn’t damning enough for Fairfax’s credibility, another survey showed that 50% of stuff respondents favoured the Nazi solution of eugenics to tackle the problem of breeding “ferals”; is this a clear sign of Rightwing propaganda in action?
Had enough of this international corporation providing propaganda disguised as news? Please share this blog [Fearfactsexposed], join us on Facebook , and tell your friends to boycott everything that this National Party spin corporation publish. Only a strong public backlash will make Fairfax Media take notice, so let’s bloody have one!
Reprinted from the blog, Fearfactsexposed, with kind permission.
= fs =
“I just want to emphasise that it is not our best guess; it’s just a guess. It’s just to put some numbers in that look like they might be roughly right for forecasting purposes.
“That’s an honest answer.” – Bill English, 17 February 2012
That may be an “honest answer” – but it also has to rank as one of the dumbest in New Zealand’s political history.
To explain what Bill English was being “honest” about,
That’s right, folks, our Finance Minister has just let slip that National has no idea how much money they will raise from the part-privatisation of Genesis Energy, Might River Power, Meridian, Solid Energy, and Air New Zealand.
They don’t have a clue.
The $5 -$7 billion they have been quoting pre and post election are figures seemingly plucked out of hot-air from Parliament’s oxygen-depleted atmosphere. (Oxygen depletion tends to have unpleasant side-effects on a brain such as confused, muddled, thinking.)
John Key – realising that Bill English had made National the laughing stock of the country – jumped in, changing the “best guess” to a “best estimate”,
However, Key didn’t help matters much when he added,
“I think they are our best estimates”.
“There are lots of variables in there … what we do know is the Crown will absolutely have a minimum of 51 per cent shareholding but could have more. We don’t know what price the market will pay at the time; we don’t know the exact timing of all these particular floats.”
So let’s see. Key and English don’t know any of the following,
- How much will be raised by the partial-privatisation?
- Whether they will end up with 51% ownership – or more?
- Or even the timing of the “floats” (sale of shares)?
- Or what price the shares will be sold at???
No wonder Greens co-leader Russel Norman said, in utter exasperation,
“That isn’t how we should be running the finances of New Zealand.”
Norman wasn’t playing usual political one-upmanship games – he was voicing the entire country’s disquiet at what is rapidly looking like mickey mouse incompetance.
Yet again this is an example of National simply not being up-with-the-play. Much like unaffordable tax-cuts of ’09 and ’10; the Jobs Summit of 2009 that achieved very little; the credit down-grade they “never saw coming”; the broken promise on raising gst; the $1.4 billion revenue short-fall – National’s economic policies seem to be ad-hoc at the very best.
If this was the Muppet Show, it might look something like this,
Instead, it looks like this,
clowns muppets are in charge of billions of dollars worth of public property?
I am not reassured. In fact, I wouldn’t trust these two to run a charity sausage sizzle.
I can imagine how that would end badly,
- 1 x sausage, @ 50 cents wholesale
- gas, onion, sauces, napkin, est. 50 cents per sausage
- Retail price: ?
40 cents 60 cents75 cents!
Cue: muppet theme & roll credits.
Other Blog stories
More to come.
But seriously, Mr Prime Minister, we can’t afford any more your your government’s “fiscal prudence”!!!
Last Friday (30 September), Prime Minister John Key (or ‘Dear Leader‘ as he is now known), played radio DJ for an hour. Using the excuse of the “electoral commission rules”, Key’s presence on Radio Live was supposedly an “election free” event,
During Key’s session on air, New Zealand’s second sovereign credit-ratings downgrade was announced. Again, he refused to discuss the issue, citing “electoral commission rules”. His one hour was to be keep “politics and election free”.
We learnt that his cat was named, “Moonbeam“.
Which is like having Peter Jackson on-air and expecting him not to make any comment whatsoever on any of his movies or the entire film-making industry…
Just because Dear Leader instructs his listeners that his show was an “election free zone” does not make it so. In fact, it clearly was not “election free” at all, and only the most naive or ardent National Party-apologist could claim it to be. Quite simply, John Key is the Prime Minister and Prime Ministers are political irrespective of what “zone” they might be in.
In fact, hosting a politics-free radio show is a perfect opportunity for any politician to “connect” with his/her electorate and promote their persona as being one-of-the-people.
But there is more to this issue than simply John Key getting one hour of free media exposure. Quite a bit more.
It began in 1984 when Steven Joyce, at age 21, set up his first radio station, “Energy FM”. From there, his business venture expanded considerably,
“Joyce made his millions in broadcasting. He got involved with student radio as a presenter and programme director while doing his zoology degree at Massey University in Palmerston North. Then he and a group of friends, including radio presenter Jeremy Corbett, started their own station in Joyce’s hometown of New Plymouth.
Corbett says Joyce son of a grocer had a prodigious work ethic: “Steven expects everyone to work as hard as him and nobody does.”
Joyce was 24 when Taranaki’s Energy FM finally got a full licence. Later, the team began acquiring other stations. As Corbett puts it: “I got married and left, and the rest of them became millionaires.”
Joyce says money was the furthest thing from his mind. For years “we kept living like university students [so] we could keep ploughing money back into the business”.
By 2000 he was CEO of an empire called RadioWorks, with 22 radio stations and 650 staff. He didn’t want to sell up, but Canadian company CanWest launched a stockmarket raid and left him standing with a cheque for $6 million in his hand. It was a “bittersweet” moment.” Source
“In 2004, CanWest Global Communications combined television company TV3 Network Services and radio company RadioWorks to form the new MediaWorks company. On 29 July 2004, 30% of this new company was sold on the NZSX. Three years later, in July 2007, CanWest sold its stake of the company to Ironbridge Capital, a group of Australian investors, who subsequently obtained the remaining 30% from other investors. MediaWorks is significantly larger than any of its other investments.” Source
So far we have the following “trail”: Steven Joyce/Energy FM → Steven Joyce/RadioWorks → CanWest → CanWest/MediaWorks → Ironbridge/MediaWorks, which is the current ownership-situation.
In April 2009, the Radio Broadcasters’ Association wrote to the now-Minister of Communications, Steven Joyce, asking for the high cost of renewing radio spectrum licence payments to be spread over 20 years, rather than paid in one lump sum. Source.
In the following month, May 2009, the Ministry of Economic Development advised Joyce that there was no compelling reason to accede to the Association’s request, as it would “put the Government in a credit financing role“. Joyce followed that advice and subsequently declined the RBA’s request. Ibid.
At around this point, the
Dear Leader Prime Minister starts to get involved and things begin to get murky. Around August 8th or 9th, 2009, Brent Impey - the then-CEO of Mediaworks - lobbied John Key directly, to get a deferred-payments scheme put in place. (Evidently, such a scheme was desirable not because MediaWorks was in financial trouble – but because it would improve their bottom-line profitability.)
At first, John Key denied even meeting with Brent Impey, and stated this in answer to parliamentary written questions,
“The Prime Minister said he had “no meetings” with representatives of MediaWorks to discuss the deal.” Source
Two days later that answer was corrected, saying he “ran into” Brent Impey at a “social event” in Auckland where the issue was “briefly raised” and he “passed his comments on” to the responsible minister.” Source
It seems fairly unbelievable that one could have a meeting with someone; discuss a matter involving $43 million – and then claim to have forgotten it?!
Despite having declined the Radio Broadcasters’ Association’s first appeal (May, 2009) – after Key “ran into” Brent Impey at a “social event” the matter was re-visited and on October 22, 2009, Cabinet agreed to the RBA’s request for deferred payments.
Question: What transpired between May 2009 and October 2009 to so radically change government policy, and in effect adopt the role of “credit financing”, against the advice of the Ministry of Economic Development, which Steven Joyce had originally accepted?
Question: What role did John Key have to play in this matter? Because all of a sudden he seemed to become pivotal to this issue and it’s outcome.
Question: How could John Key have forgotten that he “ran into” Brent Impey at a “social event” ?
Click here for a Timeline of events, by NZ Herald report, Derek Cheng.
Essentially then, for reasons that are as clear as a barrelfull of Christchurch liquifaction, this government decided to make a loan for radio frequency-fees, worth $43.3 million to MediaWorks.,
As John Drinnan wrote in the above article,
“…the Government allowed them to keep the frequencies and pay the money over a 50-month period – paying 11.2 per cent interest a year. The Crown held a mortgage on the frequency with a strong security. “
However, politicians being politicians, they will always argue the point,
“Telecommunications Minister Steven Joyce yesterday said the money was not a loan, but a deferred payment system to help the radio industry during tough times in 2009.” Ibid
Steven Joyce was adamant that this was not a “loan” to MediaWorks,
In fact, Joyce goes on to say,
“”They have to present it as a debt because it is a debt they owe the Crown, so how they do that is between them and their accountants.
“All I can tell you is that the Crown has not advanced any cash to MediaWorks at all, that the Crown has offered a deferred payment option to all of the frequency holders who were due to renew at that time, which involved them paying interest and getting in their payments over five years.”" Ibid
So according to Steven Joyce, this is not a debt “the Crown has not advanced any cash to MediaWorks at all“?!
Is that how it works?!
In which case, property-owners around New Zealandf should rejoice and do cartwheels! We have no debts! The mortgages that our banks and building societies extended to us are not debts at all because they did not “advance any cash” to us! After all, mortgage monies are paid directly to the vendor – the new owner never sees a cent of it. Banks and other financial institutions simply hold a mortgage over our properties, and charge us interest on top of principle, to be re-paid.
Which is precisely what this government has done, as already mentioned above,
“…the Government allowed them to keep the frequencies and pay the money over a 50-month period – paying 11.2 per cent interest a year. The Crown held a mortgage on the frequency with a strong security. ” Source
It’s a loan, Mr Joyce. Deal with it.
So perhaps it’s little wonder why Radio Live (owned by MediaWorks) did not extend Labour Leader Phil Goff, and other Party leaders, the same advantage as John Key had,
Of course Radio Live “didn’t give an explanation for refusing“. It’s fairly obvious what has transpired in some fairly shady, back room, “arrangements”. It is fairly obvious that whatever “arrangement” now exists between Media Works and John Key and his government is now to their mutual benefit.
The question is; did that $43 million buy just the one hour with Radio Live?
Or is there more to come?
Watch this space.
From our esteemed Prime Minister,
John Key “would like to think” the world is a safer place?!
Mr Prime Minister – what colour is the sky on your world?
Oh, about this much…
At a time when our country faces enormous problems and challenges; with an election less than three months away; with youth unemployment and other economic problems confronting our society – this is what the media feeds us?!
However, hardly surprising really, and Chris Trotter makes this observation as to why our modern media treats us like juveniles…
I would also venture a suggestion that the same also applies to our apathy at the upcoming Rugby World Cup. Rugby seems no longer about playing the game nor about the spectators. It’s now about multi-million dollar sponsorships and the heavy-handed controls that accompany it. (See my piece, “What Killed Rugby?“)
The Big Boys have taken over, and they’ve got the ball now. We can either like it or lump it.
Politics and rugby – both victims of elitism.
Previous Blog post
Warren Buffet is regarded as one of the most successful investors in the world. He is ranked among the world’s wealthiest people and was ranked as the world’s wealthiest person in 2008. He is the third wealthiest person in the world as of 2011.
He is not a disaffected socialist, nor “random leftie” – he has serious money in his bank account(s). So when this guy warns us that the wealthy are not paying their way, and have been “coddled by billionaire-friendly governments” – you know he’s saying something important.
And that we should take note…
Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.
These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.
Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.
If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine — most likely by a lot.
To understand why, you need to examine the sources of government revenue. Last year about 80 percent of these revenues came from personal income taxes and payroll taxes. The mega-rich pay income taxes at a rate of 15 percent on most of their earnings but pay practically nothing in payroll taxes. It’s a different story for the middle class: typically, they fall into the 15 percent and 25 percent income tax brackets, and then are hit with heavy payroll taxes to boot.
Back in the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher, and my percentage rate was in the middle of the pack. According to a theory I sometimes hear, I should have thrown a fit and refused to invest because of the elevated tax rates on capital gains and dividends.
I didn’t refuse, nor did others. I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off. And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000. You know what’s happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation.
Since 1992, the I.R.S. has compiled data from the returns of the 400 Americans reporting the largest income. In 1992, the top 400 had aggregate taxable income of $16.9 billion and paid federal taxes of 29.2 percent on that sum. In 2008, the aggregate income of the highest 400 had soared to $90.9 billion — a staggering $227.4 million on average — but the rate paid had fallen to 21.5 percent.
The taxes I refer to here include only federal income tax, but you can be sure that any payroll tax for the 400 was inconsequential compared to income. In fact, 88 of the 400 in 2008 reported no wages at all, though every one of them reported capital gains. Some of my brethren may shun work but they all like to invest. (I can relate to that.)
I know well many of the mega-rich and, by and large, they are very decent people. They love America and appreciate the opportunity this country has given them. Many have joined the Giving Pledge, promising to give most of their wealth to philanthropy. Most wouldn’t mind being told to pay more in taxes as well, particularly when so many of their fellow citizens are truly suffering.
Twelve members of Congress will soon take on the crucial job of rearranging our country’s finances. They’ve been instructed to devise a plan that reduces the 10-year deficit by at least $1.5 trillion. It’s vital, however, that they achieve far more than that. Americans are rapidly losing faith in the ability of Congress to deal with our country’s fiscal problems. Only action that is immediate, real and very substantial will prevent that doubt from morphing into hopelessness. That feeling can create its own reality.
Job one for the 12 is to pare down some future promises that even a rich America can’t fulfill. Big money must be saved here. The 12 should then turn to the issue of revenues. I would leave rates for 99.7 percent of taxpayers unchanged and continue the current 2-percentage-point reduction in the employee contribution to the payroll tax. This cut helps the poor and the middle class, who need every break they can get.
But for those making more than $1 million — there were 236,883 such households in 2009 — I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more — there were 8,274 in 2009 — I would suggest an additional increase in rate.
My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.
(Warren E. Buffett is the chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway.)
Buffet’s analysis holds true for New Zealand as much as it does for his own country, the USA.
In April 2009 and October 2010, this government awarded the highest income earners and the wealthiest the most in tax-cuts.
At the same time, the top ten wealthiest people in NZ (and probably others throughout the world also increased their wealth by 20 percent) – whilst the rest of the global economy was wracked by the worst recession since the 1930s, and millions lost their jobs.
The old excuse that the “wealthy work hard and should be rewarded for their labours” no longer deserves to be taken seriously. Most of us work hard, and long hours.
It is time that governments stopped coddling the rich. It’s not like they can take their wealth off-planet to Mars or elsewhere. The rich will still invest their vast wealth.
But it’s time they paid their fair share as the price of living in societies that gave them the opportunities to create their wealth.
It’s high time National looked at a fairer taxation system, and paid for the social services and job creation-friendly policies, rather than the top 10% of the population and middle-class rich-wannabees.
Otherwise, prepare yourselves for a society of growing inequality.
So far, the indicators are not good…
Well, I think the ‘message’ is reasonably clear for all but the most ideologically-blind. Question is – what are we going to do about it?
(Hint: more of the same will probably not work.)
This is must-read stuff…
It is worth noting that, here in New Zealand, recent tax cuts gave $2.5 billion a year to the top 10 per cent of earners and “practically nothing to the bottom 20 per cent of earners, who got 3 per cent of those cuts”.
It is also worth noting that, as a country, we are having to borrow $380 million per week to – in part – fund those tax cuts. That’s $17.6 billion this year alone.
Far from being a “prudent fiscal manager”, National is being highly irresponsible as it continues to woo the Middle Class for their votes.
Only thing is: eventually it all has to be paid back. Even selling all out SOEs won’t cover that debt mountain, as we simply don’t have enough state assets left after the 1980s and 1990s.
A neo-liberal is one who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. In this case, this National government are slowly strangling good, quality broadcasters like RNZ and TVNZ7 – whilst feeding us a daily diet of brain-cell deadening, pseudo-news on TV1 and TV3 and apalling programming that consists mostly of American sitcoms, cooking programmes, and bleak crime shows.
If only New Zealanders were as passionate about the lack of governmental support for quality broadcasting as we were about stranded penguins; “Wellywood” signs; and books by Ian Wishart.
Oh, but that would mean thinking about complex issues, wouldn’t it? Jerking the knee with superficial, emotion-tugging, issues is much easier: no effort required.
The state-owned broadcaster registered itself as the Radio New Zealand Charitable Trust with the Charities Commission last month.
Some of its charitable purposes, which were listed on the commission’s website, included education, research, fundraising and providing grants to a number of individuals and groups.
A spokesperson for Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman said the broadcaster still received $34 million a year but couldn’t say how long it had been receiving that amount.
A financial review of Radio NZ for the 2009/10 financial year showed it had a net deficit of $498,000 after tax, compared to a surplus of $13,000 the year before.
The review said RNZ had been too cash-strapped to participate in the 2010 New Zealand Radio Awards or put in a bid for the Rugby World Cup 2011 coverage.
Kedgley said she first thought the charity registration was a joke.
“I am appalled to discover that it is serious proposition and that the Board of Radio New Zealand has been forced by the Government’s funding freeze on Radio New Zealand to set up a trust so that it can go out with a begging bowl to the public,” she said.
“The move suggests there is quiet desperation at Radio New Zealand. The broadcaster simply cannot make ends meet under the Government’s funding freeze.”
Curran said the move raised some “serious questions”.
“Not the least of which is why the whole of RNZ has been registered as a charity, and what the long-term intention is,” she said.
“Radio NZ’s survival should not be dependent on it having to solicit donations. It is our state radio broadcaster and holds a special place in New Zealand.”
Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman couldn’t be reached for comment and neither could RNZ chairman Richard Griffin.
Griffin told Fairfax earlier this year that RNZ could only survive a funding freeze for another two years.
He said the current freeze put the public broadcaster in a “more than difficult” financial position.
“If we’re left in a position where every year costs increase and funding remains static, we’re going to wither.”
It was believed that the charity was mainly to fund its concert station.
It is an unbelievable, bizarre state-of -affairs when a public service such as Radio New Zealand , has to register itself as a charity. If this doesn’t ring alarm bells with us, then we are truly asleep.
It should also give us cause for concern that National will be closing down TVNZ7. This free-to-air; advertising free; public network is a wealth of news, documentaries, and offers an un-commercialised look at ourselves and the world around us.
TVNZ7 treats the viewer with intelligence and respect. It is television as it should be – and not the mindless rubbish that we are now served up every day on other channels. (Parliament TV excepted – that contains very mature, erudite debate from our Honourable Members of Parliament.)
It is a great shame that two quality public services – TVNZ7 and Radio New Zealand – can be put in jeopardy through the lack of political support from the government-of-the-day, and because of public apathy. If New Zealanders were as passionate about their own public broadcasting system, as they were about wayward penguins, oh what a much more mature society we would be.
But we are like children, it seems, and easily enthralled by the latest distracting trinket.
New Zealand has often been described as a “young country”.
That is truer than we realised.