Have the media finally learned to ask the right questions?
When right-wing, normally pro-National, columnists like the NZ Herald’s John Armstrong question the veracity of this government’s assertions, then it is another indication that things are not going well for John Key’s six-year old administration.
Specifically, Armstrong’s questioning Steven Joyce’s claim on 12 March that thousands of new jobs have been created in Northland;
“When you add that to the 7,500 extra new jobs created in Northland in the last year, it is clear that the region is turning the corner and beginning to grow well.”
Armstrong replied two days later, lambasting the National Minister;
Deserving of special scrutiny is the repeated claim by Steven Joyce that 7500 new jobs were created in Northland last year. It certainly sounds impressive. The Economic Development Minister’s assertion is based on Statistics New Zealand’s household labour force survey. That indeed showed an increase of 7500 more people in employment in Northland at the end of last year as against the previous December.
The survey, however, stipulates that anyone who does paid work for as little as one hour a week is classed as being in employment. When people talk about “new” jobs, they usually mean full-time or part-time with a reasonable number of hours. We simply do not know what types of jobs were actually created.
Note Armstrong’s comment; “The survey, however, stipulates that anyone who does paid work for as little as one hour a week is classed as being in employment”.
He is indeed correct. Statistics NZ considers a person to be employed if they;
- worked for one hour or more for pay or profit in the context of an employee/employer relationship or self-employment
- worked without pay for one hour or more in work which contributed directly to the operation of a farm, business, or professional practice owned or operated by a relative
Note that a worker does not even have to be paid for Statistics NZ to consider you officially “employed”.
Which Armstrong duly noted;
The risk of making bald assertions without qualification is underlined by the survey’s other finding that despite the apparent strong lift in employment, the number of unemployed in Northland fell by only about 100 during the same 12 months.
It is refreshing that some in the media are finally starting to pick up the mendacities of this government. Key and his cronies are simply not be be trusted and every utterance they make should be fact-checked.
If an openly pro-National columnist understands that the governments claims are bogus, it should not be beyond the abilities of other journalists to undertake basic research as well. There is simply no excuse; the information is readily available through search engines.
Even Cameron Slater has picked up on National’s blatant propagandising and seems less than impressed.
As I blogged in early February;
If the last six years have shown us one thing, it is that the next scandal and revelations of dodgy ministerial practices and inept Prime Ministerial behaviour is not too far away.
The media are alerted. The public now have some awareness of dirty politics behind the scenes. And journalists are starting to exercise a form of collective memory.
It is said that the public no longer care about politics, and that Key has “de-politicised” it. But, like the continuing bad stories that finally destroyed Jenny Shipley’s government, continuing negatives stories can have a corrosive effect on this government.
The more times Key is caught out lying or being tricky with the truth or breaking promises – the more that the public will slowly but surely distrust his “brand”.
The loss of Northland will not only be damaging to the National government, it will be the clearest indication yet that the value of “Brand Key” has been irrevocably tarnished and diminished.
This will be Key’s final term in office.
National Party: Strong economic performance in Northland
Statistics NZ: […] Definitions
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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 16 March 2015.
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