Brian Edwards Media

Duncan Garner on Chris Carter – Journalism or Personal Campaign?

Mark Mitchell/NZ Herald

Mark Mitchell/NZ Herald

hon20chris20carter20mp11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In returning to the topic of Duncan Garner, I am in danger of being accused of conducting a personal campaign against TV3’s political editor. That would be doubly unfortunate since it is my view that he, and/or TV3,  is conducting just such a campaign  against Labour ‘s  Foreign Affairs spokesman Chris Carter.

On last night’s  bulletin, Garner devoted 2’17”  – a long item in television terms – to a 2½ week trip Carter will make later this month to Europe. It was the third item in the bulletin, suggesting major significance in that day’s news. 

Duncan  began by reminding viewers that Carter had been ‘dubbed the  Minister of Overseas Travel’ when he was in government, ‘spending over $131,000 in a year’. He did not say ‘dubbed’ by whom. The answer is, of course, the National Opposition and some elements in the media, including Garner himself.

There was a barely disguised homophobia in those earlier television reports of Carter’s allegedly spendthrift approach to taxpayer subsidised travel.  Considerable emphasis was placed on the fact that he  was often accompanied on overseas trips by his partner, Peter Kaiser. Shots of the couple drinking champagne at their Civil Union appeared in almost every story, while photographs of the wives or husbands of other MPs and cabinet ministers on ‘overseas jaunts’ rarely if ever appeared.

Garner has now run four  stories on Carter’s overseas travel. All four have featured pictures from the Civil Union,  mentioning Kaiser’s name and on at least one occasion the name of the school at which he is Principal.

Garner goes on in last night’s item to note that, with the spotlight on MPs’ spending, Carter has had to be more careful about his taxpayer subsidised travel. ‘But now 3 News can reveal he’s off to Europe for two and a half weeks.’

The sentence deserves just a little analysis. The ‘but now’ suggests that something has changed. Carter is presumably no longer being careful about his taxpayer subsidised travel. ‘Reveal’ suggests something that was meant to be kept hidden, something underhand.  And ‘off to Europe for two and a half weeks’  just reeks of happy holidays.

Garner then takes us touring with Carter – to Berlin for 2 days, Warsaw for 2 days, the UK for just over a week to observe the British elections (but ‘likely to include a trip to Ireland’), Paris for 2 days, ‘and he’s likely to have a day in Brussels’. Lest the viewer fail to keep up with this whirlwind European gallivanting, Garner helpfully provides an animated map with Carter perched atop a jet, spinning from capital to capital.

Garner then reminds us that Carter will be travelling business class, but has yet to decide whether he will take his partner, Peter Kaiser. And there they are – drinking champagne at their Civil Union again.

What follows is Carter’s reported response. In it he points out that, as Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson, he is expected to keep abreast of  international issues and make contacts with foreign policy decision makers of relevance to New Zealand. He says that a full-on programme of appointments has been arranged for him. The trip will be ‘all work and no play’. He will be paying his own internal travel and accommodation costs in Europe. The only subsidy which he will enjoy is the Parliamentary discount for travel to and from Europe. If Peter goes with him, he will be paying for himself.

It seems to me that this constitutes a total justification for Carter’s trip and completely negates any suggestion that the MP is rorting the parliamentary expenses system.

One could argue that this represents balance in the reporting, but if there was nothing out-of-the-ordinary about Carter’s trip to Europe, then what was the justification for running this non-story at all?

I can find no such justification. Garner’s coverage of Carter’s international travel has begun to take on the complexion of a personal campaign to discredit the MP. In a different context, it would constitute harassment.

If I am wrong, I invite Duncan Garner to respond to this blog and , providing nothing in it is defamatory, I undertake to publish that response unedited.

If I’m right, TV3 should be considering whether their political editor is fit to hold the job.

[For the record, Carter will not be accompanied by Kaiser on the trip and will not be going to Ireland.]

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58 Comments:

  1. I have zero sympathy for Carter. Whatever the merits of the current trip his insufferable arrogance in defending his previous overseas travel, especially his accusations of homophobia against anyone who dared criticise, made him fair game. It was as though the NZ taxpayer had no right to expect an explanation of how its money was being spent.

    I would in any event question why the opposition spokeman on foreign affairs, who is never likely to hold ministerial offfice again, needs to go on such a trip. Why does he need to be in Britain to observe the election? It’s not Afghanistan. He could follow the election just as well on BBC World.

    What value is there to the NZ taxpayer , who is subsidising his business class travel, in his trip to Paris, Berlin, etc, where no doubt he will meet some third class functionaries who did not move quickly enough when the boss said, “who wants to meet this nonentity from NZ”

    No I am not homophobic; I detest the man and his patronising arrogance regardless of his sexual orientation. And to show even-handedness I have an equal detestation of Hide, who displays similar arrogance. I take it you would not be so indignant if the media were persecuting Rodney.

    • I have zero sympathy for Carter.

      I don’t recall Carter accusing the media of homophobia on this issue, though I did and continue to do so. But I’m delighted that some of your best friends are gay.

      It’s important to democracy that we have an effective opposition. I would have thought the Foreign Affairs spokesman ought to be as well informed on foreign affairs as the Agriculture spokesman on agriculture. Both would require an understanding of the overseas landscape, especially Foreign Affairs.

      ‘insufferable arrogance, some third class functionaries, nonentity from New Zealand’ – bluster instead of argument.

      If the media were “persecuting Rodney”, I would object to that as well. This is not a party political issue, it is a journalism issue.

  2. What value is there to the NZ taxpayer , who is subsidising his business class travel, in his trip to Paris, Berlin, etc, where no doubt he will meet some third class functionaries who did not move quickly enough when the boss said, “who wants to meet this nonentity from NZ”

    I daresay there would be some value to be found in it if you looked at it rationally, rather than like this.

  3. Chris is his own worst enemy, there really is no genuine articulated reason for the travel aside from catching up with mates and a bit of tourism. Parliament is currently in recess and he is going away when it re-sits with the budget approaching and he is not long back from the Caribean.Surprising that Goff would sign off on this when Labour appear to be getting some traction on various issues knowing full well Garner would launch into him.
    Could he not sacrifice a holiday for the good of the party for once.

    • Chris is his own worst enemy, there really is no genuine articulated reason for the travel aside from catching up with mates and a bit of tourism.

      I’m unaware of any substantiation for the claims you make in this comment about the purpose of Carter’s trip.

  4. Your contention then Ben, is that whilst in Opposition,no politican need travel out of the country?
    I agree that the placement of Carter’s civil union pictures is apparently some dog whistle for reaction.
    Has media in general and Garner in the specific got to the point where it is about noise rather than news?

  5. @ Ben: “I would in any event question why the opposition spokesman on foreign affairs, who is never likely to hold ministerial office again, needs to go on such a trip.”

    I am intrigued, Ben, that you have such an insight into the future of the next Labour led government, as to be able to make a statement about ministerial office in such a categorical way. What does this suggest? Your true agenda?

  6. I’m somewhat confused about one given reason for the trip: “to observe the British elections”.

    Is there a reason to observe the election? Is it going to depart radically from the countless elections that have preceded it? Are underhand practices that need invigilation going to occur? Given the length of England’s/Britain’s parliamentary history, are they suddenly incapable of running an election?

    Other than that, I don’t see much problem with a foreign affairs spokesman heading off to network. It’s the amount of election-observation that amazes me.

  7. I am afraid you did not follow the earlier reportage and criticism of Carter’s ministerial travels closely. He quite clearly accused those who criticised him of homophobia.

    You obviously think that my comments are based on homophobia judging by your sarcatic response. “But I’m delighted that some of your best friends are gay.” You are as bad as Carter in that you cannot see past your prejudices when someone takes an opposing view.

    What is Carter but a nonentity? Why would any overseas government waste their time talking to someone who has no influence whatsoever. I doubt whether there is nothing he is doing overseas tthat he could not do just as well with a video link from NZ. And he would not produce so much carbon either

    I come back to my main point which is that if you behave as Carter has done and dismiss any criticism in such a high handed way, you cannot be surprised if you become a target. A little humility would not have come amiss and perhaps a sign that although all his spending was within the rules, the NZ taxpayer in a time of recession had a right to question its value. Had he sought your services I think you might have advised him to behave rather differently.

    • You obviously think that my comments are based on homophobia judging by your sarcatic response. “But I’m delighted that some of your best friends are gay.” You are as bad as Carter in that you cannot see past your prejudices when someone takes an opposing view.

      The observation was gratuitous, I admit. But then comments like ‘What is Carter but a nonentity?’ do tend to bring out the worst in me.

  8. He didnt articulate any genuine reason, the bar is (rightly or wrongly) a little higher because of his past form. He needs a good reason to travel, whaling commission etc.
    This is politics at the end of the day and its perceptions that make the headlines. The Nats will no doubt be delighted as are some of the more “interesting” blogs.
    Does he think the benefit to the Labour party is higher than the cost.

    • He didnt articulate any genuine reason, the bar is (rightly or wrongly) a little higher because of his past form.

      I think if you look at his response, as summarised by me, it gives plenty of genuine reasons. As a matter of interest, he could under the rules have legitimately used the parliamentary travel subsidy to take a holiday. He didn’t.

  9. “Surprising that Goff would sign off on this when Labour appear to be getting some traction on various issues knowing full well Garner would launch into him. Could he not sacrifice a holiday for the good of the party for once.”

    Yes, how silly of Goff to sign off on this!

    No doubt he based the signoff on something like the obvious, stated and actually quite reasonable purpose of the trip. If only he had paused first to consult the possible made-up interpretations of ordinary, rumour-mongering Kiwis like David!

    I really don’t think Goff makes enough of an effort to reach out to voters who live in a conspiratorial fantasy land. Sad really?

  10. The trouble with TV3’s Duncan Garner is that he’s too friggin’ soft; content to play footsies, rather than barreling into this charlatan of an MP. I could describe Carter as being parasitic on the taxpayer. But I won’t.

    The guy’s in parliament to avail himself to every single freebie on offer, courtesy of the taxpayer. This boy laps up the overseas travel like there’s no tomorrow. I find his conduct — and the accompanying mealy-mouth excuses — galling. (Well, stomach-churning, actually).

    As a Minister, under Labour, Carter was “uselessness” personified. Can you name just ONE worthwhile thing he achieved besides brushing up on his culinary knowledge of Euro cuisine? Ben is 100% correct: Carter ain’t ever going to warm a ministerial seat, again. Ever! And he can delude himself all day long, that, as Labour’s shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs, he needs to keep himself “abreast of international issues”. His knowledge of world affairs would make Sara Palin, in comparison, look like an expert on Africa.

    If you ever want to see a self-serving MP subsumed by avarice, then, you need to look no further than this “Minister” of Pretence, Artifice, Vanity, Smoke and Mirrors and Make-Believe. He represents the worst excesses that our MPs are adept at engaging in, under the guise of “serving the country”.

    He’s not so much got his snout buried in the public trough as his whole being fully submerged in it. Honestly, you wonder if he ever pops his head up to take a breath.

    • The trouble with TV3’s Duncan Garner is that he’s too friggin’ soft; content to play footsies, rather than barreling into this charlatan of an MP

      I’ve removed one particularly offensive sentence from this generally offensive and utterly mindless piece of crap. You really are lowering the tone of this site, Merv. I’m sure you’d be welcome at Whale Oil.

  11. I would have thought it was pretty straight forward. In our egotistical, personality driven age of info-news TV3 wants a trophy for its news department. That way, Duncan Garner can be presented as a player, a man who is important, a man who has the pelt of an ex-minister and an elected representative nailed to the side of his shed.

    Duncan Garner. Mover. Shaker. Informed. Equal amongst the exalted.

  12. I know the name and occupation of this MP’s partner. I know what he looks like, because I have seen footage of him on the TV news, often. This partner is NOT going on an overseas trip with the MP, and no taxpayer money – or any other possible public interest – is involved.

    I do not know the name of other MPs’ partners, with one or two exceptions because of the MP’s status (e.g. Bronagh Key, or Peter Davis). For example, I have no idea what the wife of Sir Roger Douglas looks like, or her name, her occupation, or anything else about her. Nor do I want to.

    But I do know that these partners have accompanied the MPs on overseas trips. At our expense.

    So what is the difference? Why is one particular partner, of one particular MP, a major news story, even when he is not going overseas, or indeed, doing anything at all?

    It’s a mystery. Perhaps one of our not-at-all-bigoted-no-sir-not-me contributors can explain.

  13. You are probably correct in that this is a beatup but Carter is, in the view of this staunch Labour supporter, a liability.
    I and many of my circle hold him responsible for the Building Act 2004 and the Weathertight Homes Resolution Services Act, two of the (in the words of one prominent commentator) “dumbest” pieces of legislation ever.

    I see very little value for New Zealand in Carter keeping “abreast of international issues and make(ing) contacts with foreign policy decision makers of relevance to New Zealand”. When Labour next take office, Carter may not hold the FA portfolio and many of the contacts he makes today may no longer hold office.

    As far as keeping abreast of international issues goes, it has long been obvious to me that politicians worldwide would derive much greater benefit from reading a book or two rather than spending a few hours in some foreign capital.

    Austerity should be the order of the day during this recession and Carter should be setting an example.

  14. ASA: I do not have any agenda, let alone a true one. It is not a matter of the make up of the next Labour government. It is a matter of when. This will not occur for another two general elections at best(and it may surprise you that regardless of my detestation of Carter, I truly regret that)and by that time CC will be history, jetsetting around the world subsidised by the NZ taxpayer, probably in some cozy job found for all politicians.

    Merv’s contribution possibly lacked subtlety, but at the risk of finding myself up to my neck in Whale Oil, I have to say I find myself in some sympathy with his views.

    My feelings about Carter are the same as they are for all politicians when on the wrong end of an argument pull out the race/gay/gender card. Even his boss Phil Goff told him to pull his head in so why on earth, Brian, do you feel you have to defend him?

    Sorry if you feel that I too lower the tone. If need be I will slink off with Merv.

  15. Brewer, have just seen your contribution. Very well put (not so sure about the beat up). I agree totally that while travel broadens the mind, it could be broadened a lot more by reading. Many politicians give the impression of relying totally on their civil servants in order to exhibit some basic understanding of their brief.

  16. Let’s be honest here – “observe the British elections” really means “observe the Labour Party campaign”. He’s working all right, but not for the taxpayers who are funding his travel.

  17. “…You really are lowering the tone of this site, Merv. I’m sure you’d be welcome at Whale Oil…”

    I assume you have moderation turned on for a reason, Mr. Edwards??

  18. I don’t know if it fully blown homophobia – at it’s worst it may well be, but what is cewrtain is that Duncan’s piece on 3news last night used footage of the civil union and from the Big Gay Out to highlight Chris Carter’s sexuality knowing full well that many people would judge him negatively because of it. It colours the item, it judges Carter unfairly.

  19. Merv reverting to type? Would you apply the same yardstick to Paula Bennets trip to find out from USA how to administer Welfare? Would you predict that it would be a waste of time Paula going anywhere because she will be ousted in 18 months? Will you publish Paula’s companion’s name for her trip with photos if she has one?
    Do you think that all the Opposition members pre 2008 stayed at home reading a book?
    The whole story and those who support Garner’s pseudo story should do an integrity self check while they check for warts or motes.

  20. @Ben: You must have an amazing crystal ball with your prediction “at least two elections”… You may find life a lot more fraught for ‘smile and wave’ aka our PM (that’s making my agenda very plain!) by election time next year!

  21. As a matter of fact Ian I think, with the exception of the most senior ministers, the majority of minister/politician travel is a waste of time, effort and money and produces few tangible results other than to have a minister galvanised by some crackpot scheme he or she has witnessed while on the visit. The Mayor of Wellington Kerry Prendergast is a prime example at local level. She buggers off to Copenhagen and comes back wittering on about battery powered bicycles; the sole product of a large amount of ratpayers’ money.

    It would probably be more profitable to send business leaders and perhaps senior public servants on these visits and let them come back and brief their political masters. In this day and age with good electronic communication there is little need for a politician to leave the country other than on a junket.

  22. I am less generous in my estimation of Duncan Garner than you, Brian. I thought the item was typical of him, and evidence of some sort of on-going homophobic vendetta. Mind you, I am underwhelmed by the approach of the mainstream media in general given that we seem to be grappling with sa seismic shift, societally, economically and environmentally.Reportage and analysis is often shallow at best and often irrelevant.

  23. Brian, I enjoy your commentaries and visit your site regularly.

    From time to time you carry items on theism in all its guises and draw comments from theists and atheists. One theist in the name of Ben comes over as reasoned and unemotional about his adherence to his faith and closeness to his maker.

    Today, we see the true Ben. It would seem a nasty bigot, judging by his vitriol above. God bless him. The Fundies ultimately reveal their true colours don’t they.

  24. I could describe Merv as a foaming-at-the-mouth typical Tory homophobe. But I won’t.

  25. Brian:

    I actually think you’ve missed the larger pathology here. I’ve long been critical of Duncan for being so desperate to get the next “long by unchtime” sin-sational scoop, that he’s long been rather prone to weird “gotcha!” stories better suited to the political correspondent of Women’s Day or a gossip column.

    Still, the one charge I’ll defend him on is homophobia. Unless you think the media coverage of Phil Heatley’s adventures in creative use of a ministerial credit card is motivated by heterophobic animus? Personally, if Chris Finlayson is found to have been doing a Phil, I don’t give a shit that he’s gay or whether Three uses file footage (I’d note Carter and Kaiser were quite happy to have media at their civil union)m but I’d sure like a substantive story to come out of it.

    • Still, the one charge I’ll defend him on is homophobia.

      I haven’t accused him personally of homophobia. I’ve merely referred to the repeated and inappropriate television use of the Civil Union clip with Chris and Peter and noted that the hererosexual partners of other offending MPs never appear in such stories.

  26. “long by unchtime”? I meant “gone by lunchtime”; sorry about the typo. Still getting used to the keyboard on the new laptop, and don’t proof well at the best of times. :)

  27. BE: “I’ve removed one particularly offensive sentence from this generally offensive and utterly mindless piece of crap”.

    The deleted sentence wasn’t “particulary offensive” at all. You’ve attached your own connotations to it, inferring something ugly. The truth is — that, all the “Kaisers”, I know, happen to be the names of pets; usually cute labradors. If his name was “Wilhelm II”, then, of course, I wouldn’t have used it. You should have given me the benefit of the doubt.

  28. Does Chris or his partner actually object to footage of them being used in this manner ?

    If so, then shouldn’t they be the ones to speak out on it ?… otherwise I take silence as a tacit form of agreeance.

    I think if as a travel perk your partner is subsidised by the taxpayer then the media have every right to name and show them. This should apply to the children of MP’s too should they qualify for state funded holidays.

    • Does Chris or his partner actually object to footage of them being used in this manner ?

      They do object. But the problem for MPs is that if they complain about media coverage, they’re accused of being thin skinned or trying to censor stories.

      Your point about the public having the right to know how politicians spend their money is correct. But if we are to see pictures of MPs’ partners in these stories, then we should see pictures of everyone’s partner, not just those who are gay. The issue here is consistency. And since there is no consistency, it is reasonable to assume prejudice.

  29. Brian:

    My memory may be faulty here, but when Garner was trying to beat up a story about Key’s wife and children accompanying his to China I recall file footage from election night got a lot of play. I’ll call out editorial queer-baiting where I see it, but I suspect the only motivation for using that footage of Chris and Peter is that it was about the only easily accessible file footage they had to hand.

    • I suspect the only motivation for using that footage of Chris and Peter is that it was about the only easily accessible file footage they had to hand.

      No, there will be masses of footage from Carter’s time as a Minister, at all sorts of functions.

  30. Although forums such as this serve to critique the media it would be nice to have a more publicaly visable(TV)retrospective of journalists
    positions.Dr Edwards I consider you to be an appropriate voice to address these matters.If an extreme right wing stance was required Im sure Merv could oblige.The ensuing battle between yourself and Merv could possibly create a drawcard to ensure a ratings sucess.Julie Christie could be consulted to ensure low brow sucess also.
    Rather than allow Duncan Garner to fire a salvo and move on it would ensure a return salvo was fired if warranted.

    • Although forums such as this serve to critique the media it would be nice to have a more publicaly visable(TV)retrospective of journalists positions.

      We used to have Column Comment of course with Brian Priestley and, occasionally guest commentators like myself. We now have Russell Brown’s excellent Media 7 on TVNZ. CNN has (or had) the programme Crossfire which comes close to what you’re describing. I once made a pilot for a New Zealand version, using Rob Muldoon and David Lange, but the channels were uninterested. Maybe I should revive the idea.

  31. Perhaps Duncan should focus on real reporting rather then having countless dinners with Key!

    I see no distinction between Paula’s long holiday to the states and Chris heading off to Europe!

    • I see no distinction between Paula’s long holiday to the states and Chris heading off to Europe!

      I agree. I think the Bennett reference was thown in to give a (false) impression of balance.

  32. Moving on from reacting to comments, I do agree with the points you make about Garner and TV3 news, Brian. I long for the return (wishful thinking I know) of objective, insightful political analysis and commentary in our media. I won’t hold my breath though..

  33. LOogie97, your criticism is quite valid. Strangely enough it was a thought that crossed my mind when I wrote the comments. I can only excuse myself by pleading human frailty and the fact that I cannot help dislike CC (or Rodney for that matter). I do not think this really qulaifies me as a bigot but I am more than happy to accept ‘imperfect’.

  34. This page attracts a whole lot of old right wingers, hey? Yes I noticed the same things in Duncan’s report. He has always been so obviously bias against Labour and his reports are getting more like something from America’s Fox News.

    I hope tv3 replace him with a more ballanced, trustworthy journalist.

    • This page attracts a whole lot of old right wingers, hey? Yes I noticed the same things in Duncan’s report. He has always been so obviously bias against Labour and his reports are getting more like something from America’s Fox News.

      I once wrote to the editor of the Herald suggesting that Duncan wear a blue rosette during his reports. But to be fair, I’ve seen him get stuck into National Party people as well. We tend to see bias when our own side is under attack from the media, but regard the same treatment as fearless journalism when the other side are getting it.

  35. If I could just make a small stand on behalf of journalism (print, that is, not the puffery on the small screen) – it never fails to amaze me how supporters of all political parties in this country believe “the meeja” is against them. It’s possibly the only issue that unites politics in NZ. As someone who worked for years in a newsroom, can I just assure supporters of all political stripes that the vast majority of journalists hold politicians in equal disregard.

    • As someone who worked for years in a newsroom, can I just assure supporters of all political stripes that the vast majority of journalists hold politicians in equal disregard.

      That may well be true in a majority of cases, but there are quite a few examples of jounos entering politics themselves on behalf of one party or another and of people who have stood for parliament, again for one party or another, going on to have a career in journalism. Historically, papers such as Truth and the Sunday News have actually endorsed political parties before an election, a practice common overseas. More desirable perhaps than biased reporting masquerading as objective journalism.

  36. I’m all for seeing more of MP’s partners in the media. It might possibly humanise them and would make a welcome change from ‘celebrity’ journalists.

    I’m thinking a reality cooking show called ‘Bronagh on a budget’ but i hear John’s the better cook :)

  37. Ben: “LOogie97, your criticism is quite valid. Strangely enough it was a thought that crossed my mind when I wrote the comments. I can only excuse myself by pleading human frailty…”

    What’s this, then, Ben? A fleeting moment of independence and bravado? The first glowering stare and you crumble? You go faster in reserve than in overdrive. So much for your staunchness. You’re as rigid as a limp celery stick.

  38. Thanks, Merv – lol!

    I am not actually changing my view; I still detest Carter but there seems to be this notion that just because one tries to practice Christianity one is automatically immune from all normal human emotions.

    Thinking again about what I said about Carter I do not think there was anything particularly vitriolic. I called him a nonentity; in global terms that is fact and applies equally to 99% of NZ MPs. I accused him of high handed arrogance when defending his spending. That again is fact; it is a matter of public record. I have made my judgements based on his record; not on his sexual orientation. And based on his record the attention he is receiving from the media is totally justified.

  39. Ben: “I have made my judgements based on his record; not on his sexual orientation. And based on his record the attention he is receiving from the media is totally justified.”

    Exactly! So — no bowing, scraping and forelock-tugging, please. (Sometimes, the efficacy of your self-belief is called into question).

  40. I’m an openly gay man who worked with Duncan Garner at TVNZ in the mid-90s and I can tell you that he is not homophobic. In fact I can recall Duncan telling me he had a gay uncle who he spent time with growing up. Accusations of homophobia are designed to shut down scrutiny of a dodgy politician who happens to be gay. Keep up the good work Duncan. If I have any beef with Duncan it’s that he kicked my arse in a boxing match refereed by middleweight champ Sean Sullivan. I’m still training Duncan!

    • I’m an openly gay man who worked with Duncan Garner at TVNZ in the mid-90s and I can tell you that he is not homophobic.

      I never said that Garner was homophobic. I did ask whether these stories represented good journalism or a personal campaign. I think there were ample reasons to ask that question. And I made the point that this was the fourth occasion on which Garner had returned to this particullar well and that on all four occasions had used the same clip from Carter and Kaiser’s civil union. Yet the partners of other Ministers, past and present, were never shown in stories about them rorting their expenses.Can you recall seeing Doug Graham’s wife or Rodney Hide’s partner in any story about them?