Brian Edwards Media

Of knuckleheads, long-running stories, media beat-ups and Judith Collins parting the waters

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Referring to John Key’s current dissatisfaction with the ‘knuckleheads’ of the Fourth Estate, a prominent journalist, who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty, observed to me recently, ‘No Prime Minister who ever attacked the media got re-elected.’ He was evidently out of the country during both Rob Muldoon’s and Helen Clark’s three terms, but his remark was less than flattering to the members of his own profession. Journalists, it seems, will revenge themselves on politicians who criticise them, in the process abandoning their duty to report objectively and dispassionately.

Key’s response to media attacks on his credibility, and to the Press Gallery’s  dealings with him during ‘stand-ups’ in the corridors of Parliament, has been to suggest that he’ll either abandon the stand-ups altogether or at least greatly reduce the number of questions he will take.

I would suggest the former. It makes absolutely no sense to throw yourself into a pit of hungry bears who have been practising tag-team mauling while they waited for your arrival. It would be hard to think of a more uncontrolled, uncontrollable or  dangerous arena.   

The function of the stand-up is primarily to provide the media with (preferably incriminating) sound-bites. Indeed it has some of the characteristics of a police interview with a suspect: the wearying repetition of essentially the same question in the hope of getting ‘a confession’; the whole tag-team routine  including the occasional suggestion of a ‘good cop, bad cop’ collusion; the relentless negativity of the interrogation;  the unexpressed hope that the accused will break under pressure, lose his cool and say or do something damaging to his defence.

In media terms the stand-up is geared primarily, though not exclusively,  towards the needs of the broadcast media, in particular the essentially headline medium -television news. A detailed or expansive answer doesn’t fit the bill when the average sound bite has been reduced to around five seconds . This is clearly problematic for a Prime Minister attempting to explain his position on a complex issue or offer an extended narrative in his own defence.

And then there’s the problem of getting away. Most of the politicians I’ve worked with have found it difficult to call a halt to a stand-up session. They didn’t want to appear rude or look as though they were running away. But, just like the suspect in the police interview room, the more questions you answer, the more you explain, the more likely you are to get into trouble. This is John Key’s problem. He’s become far too accessible.

So Key’s options are to take a leaf out of Judith Collins’ book and part the journalistic waters without stopping or  limit his exchanges with journalists to formal press-conferences or pre-arranged set-piece interviews.

I’m for Option Two because I don’t think he can carry off Option One. Stopping and chatting is part of his genetic make-up and has held him in good stead for four years. But the media climate has changed. The bears can smell blood.

Referring on yesterday’s The Nation to Key’s background as a Wall Street trader, former Herald editor Gavin Ellis made this fascinating observation, ‘This is a guy who can control the level of icicles in his blood. He’s done that as a trader. Now suddenly he’s lost the ability to control the icicles.’

Brilliant!  And right. The Prime Minister looks increasingly uncomfortable in stand-ups. He conveys a sense of disappointment, perhaps even of betrayal. He looks annoyed and upset. And when he isn’t  being exactly straightforward, his face and tone betray it. He isn’t a good dissembler.

If I may extend the icicle analogy, what Key needs now is not to stop talking to journalists, but as far as possible to conduct those conversations in a controlled temperature environment.

As for my journalist friend’s comment about the dangers of offending the Fourth Estate, that danger, if it exists at all, is far less serious than the danger of looking weak in the face of journalistic intimidation. Kiwi voters prefer a bully to a wimp.

Will the GCSB affair do any permanent damage to John Key? I very much doubt it. This has been a saga of huge interest to the media but, so far as I can see, of precious little interest to anyone else. To test that theory, I conducted an entirely unscientific but quite interesting little survey of readers’ letters to the editor in the Herald over the last week. There were 109 letters in all, of which 2 were about the GCSB affair. I think the term for that would be ‘indicative’.

I could of course be totally wrong. On The Nation yesterday my colleague Bill Ralston described  the GCSB saga as ‘one of the longest running stories I’ve ever seen.’  I suspect we may look back on it as one of the greatest media beat-ups.

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  1. My how your worm has turned Mr Edwards !

  2. Good article, Brian.

    I agree with your comment about Key feeling betrayed. It certainly fits the current mood towards him.

    Historically, the Fourth Estate seem to always end up cannibalising the Government during the second term. It feels to me though, that the ammunition the Fourth Estate is using is pretty weak.

    I believe we’ll see a third term from the John Key led National Party, as much from the disorganised opposition as the National voters.

  3. I was happy to read that you think the media can smell blood! No wonder key s behaving like a spoiled child whose golden moment has failed, but can he keep his mouth shut is the question?

  4. Glad to see you, albeit in ethereal form, back to writing about a topic which, more so than anyone else regularly blogging in NZ, you can offer a unique and valuable perspective. Hopefully the Ouija board will be regularly utilised.

    Having said that, I don’t necessarily agree. Your analogy between the stand up and a police interview is very apt, and your criticism of much of the media, and their focus on superficiality, absolutely true.

    But the answer isn’t for Key to emulate “The Great Communicator”, Ronald Reagan, and good-naturedly ignore legitimate questions yelled at him by journalists corralled metres away at a photo op. (I say good-naturedly as I can’t imagine him displaying the mix of hubris, aggression and contempt exuded by Collins on such occasions).

    The idea of giving only “controlled environment” has overtones of Muldoon and – dare I say it here – Clark. How long before not only the environment is controlled but also the choice of interviewer? And then the questions themselves?

    Democracy is quite good at self-correcting, and that includes the media’s role in it. Yes, much of the audience is, sadly, ill-informed and much of it willfully so. But the quality of Q&A isn’t going to impact them one way or another. Indeed they probably won’t be watching.

    But those who do engage are smart enough to know that the media’s questioning is exactly as you say it is. And that our respective clients have undergone media training that makes them at least the equal of all but the very best journos.

    They’re already complaining about the superficiality of both sides of the battle. Those who do not change, who do not recapture the authenticity that (most) media and politicians once had, will wither and perish.

    Sure it’s execrable viewing in the meantime, but the solution isn’t the imposition of even less authenticity.

    • I would never suggest ‘good naturedly ignoring legitimate questions’. I’m merely suggesting that Key decline from now on to be waylaid by groups of baying journalists in the corridors. All other current options for cross-examining him remain, including accepting or rejecting press, radio and television interview invitations exactly as he does now, and additionally holding weekly, bi-weekly, tri-weekly or even daily press-conferences according to his schedule and availability.

      • Admittedly my access to NZ television is restricted by what they decide to put up on their websites (thankfully they’ve now stopped blocking offshore IPs from accessing locally produced content like news).

        But from that narrow sample size I haven’t noticed the baying mob behaving markedly different at press conferences than they do during stand ups. Which is why I erroneously assumed you were including press conferences in your definition of stand up (in my defence, he does stand up at press conferences :-))

        Are they really that much worse in the corridors of Parliament than they are in the Beehive Theatrette?

        I’ve spoken to media colleagues (who must also remain nameless to protect the guilty) and believe Key is unsurpassed in the art of schmoozing. He discusses their personal lives and remembers small details to ask about on subsequent occasions. He’s discussed boyfriend issues with one, for instance. Can you imagine Clark or Bolger or even a superb communicator like Lange doing that. And he hands out his personal mobile number, answers it, and agrees to interviews on the spot – no need to go through a comms person. That is, if you’re a safe, non-threatening media person.

        A hardened journo might not have their head turned by such flattery but an FM radio host, often young and inexperienced, certainly does.

        Anything which might conceivably break through such a polished performance – such as an “ambush” question at a stand up – can only be good, surely?


          You don’t think Helen schmoozed? Any member of the Gallery will tell you that Helen just loved to gossip on the phone to journalists. And Bolger was not averse to a whisky with them either. Seems pretty sensible to me.

  5. I’m so glad to see your passionate ghost fill the potentially empty slot so soon.

    And I agree whole-heartedly with your entire piece. Excellent perception and balance in my opinion.

    Cheers and many happy returns, Brian, whatever cloak you are wearing.

  6. Frankly I don’t see the problem. Because: the media was perfectly happy to fawn all over Key and give him every opportunity to look charming and smile nicely for the camera en route to election & re-election … and he used every one of those opportunities, as the huge bias in his favour in terms of photo reportage (per later analysis) showed.

    So, if he now looks fallible and uneasy, and is shown to be unable to handle the pressure of responding to real questions about real cock-ups, good! bring it on, media scrum!

    About bloody time.

    Posing Key only in pally little get-togethers with mates like John Campbell (who only pretends to be “investigative” of the Right) or worse, Guyon E, would simply allow him to escape proper scrutiny. I’m surprised you think that’s a good course, Brian. It might be for Key, but it certainly isn’t for NZ.

    • “Pally little get-togethers with mates”? Actually New Zealand has some of the most aggressive radio and television interviewers in the world. And your comments about Campbell and Espiner are entirely unjustified.

      • Agree with you on that, Brian. I was aware that TVNZ had used “Hinch” as a template for “Holmes” (though I’m not accusing Paul of being anything like The Human Headline (as he modestly refers to himself).

        So when I first sat down in front of Australian TV news and current affairs I was expecting something similar to what I’d become used to with “Holmes” and “Campbell Live”.

        I was, and remain, amazed that nothing ever produced by Australian commercial television holds a candle to NZ’s. With the exception of some writing for “The Australian” and some (but certainly not all) working for the ABC, no journalist whose work I’ve read or watched shows anything like the willingness to hold politicians, officials, CEOs and others to account as do their NZ colleagues.

        Anyone who thinks Campbell and Espiner are rubbish are invited to my place for a week’s free food and accommodation. The only proviso is they must watch every minute of “A Current Affair” and “Today Tonight” and their choice of daily tabloid (the Oz is, I think, the last remaining broadsheet).

        When their diet of junk food media makes them so nauseous they beg for mercy, I shall merely ask they forfeit five star hotel rates for their week’s keep.

  7. Excellent blogpost, Ghost of BE! And a valid analysis of Key’s descent into a hellishness of his own making.

    His latest venture into LaLa Land? NZ companies being hacked for data on Weapons of Mass Destruction !!! I mean, really?!?!


  8. Surely what is required is ‘scrutiny’ of the more cerebral variety rather than the emotive ratings driven ‘gotcha’ type interrogation of politicians by gung-ho journos in corridors, on morning retort, or checkmate with Mary Wilson.

    I suggest a TV program, at a prime or near prime time slot, that runs for a minimum of 30 minutes dedicated to current political affairs that has one interviewer at a time conduct an enlightening interview with a politician. No review panels or studio judges required. Until this happens it would appear to me that we are being denied an intelligent insight into what makes our politicians really tick.

    • 8.1

      Agree, Kat. Not sure about the commercial viability though. But surely it could be sponsored by public interest donors, corporate or otherwise, who have an interest in good government policy and public understanding of it.

  9. Anyone who listens to Jim Mora will know by now that Michelle Boag appears to be doing all the thinking for Brian Edwards.

  10. 10

    Like many a passionate man, Brian’s retirement has taken up exactly where his working life left off. For that we can all be thankful.

  11. 11

    Judging by the number of comments in so short a time, many people were, like me, regularly checking this website in the hope of a miracle.

    On to the subject in hand –
    Based on my memory, which is not that reliable, the media had nothing bad to say about JK before the Cup Of Tea but, after his persecution of the cameraman, I could almost hear the shuffle as they closed ranks. We seemed to get more balanced reporting – the feet of clay had been noticed. I don’t think the media have abandoned their duty to report objectively and dispassionately: they are getting it right at last.
    Even so, a majority of the country have not cottoned on to JK yet. I just hope the pressure is kept up and Labour get their act together.

  12. Oh My God …John Key IS George W Bush of the South Pacific ! WMD’s not the Kim Dotcom debacle as the reason we need MORE SPYING on you and me ! WMD’s ,how many things has this Government handled poorly …no lets make that a shorter list ,how many things have Key and cronies handled well ? I just don’t trust this man .

  13. it will turn out to be some ancillary device we make in some high tech field and their computers have had hack attempts… you tighten your computer systems not spy on your own people without a warrant ! remember when they passed the law allowing hidden cameras to spy on us …by everyone from the police the the fricken Pork Board ! He justified it by saying ,”If your doing nothing wrong ,why worry ?” ,then he was recorded having a cuppa with Banks ,then it was an illegal action and to hell with the meme “If your doing nothing wrong ,why worry ?”.

  14. The Ghost has well shown what ” beat up” “spin” and angle are all about as his article demonstrates –
    It is surely the job of the journalist to challenge and play devils advocate to people in power- how else will people get answers to the myriad of different questions.
    If we did not have ” aggressive ” journalists- then this would imply near absolute power on the part f the politician and we all know what absolute power does
    So thank goodness for Garner, Plunkett, Campbell, Taurima (where oh where is he?) and “Scary Mary” et al
    I do not include Clarabelle the interrupting cow in this group

    • Though it may surprise you, I don’t disagree with anything you say. Except perhaps your feeling that we need “aggressive” journalists and interviewers. We need journalists and interviewers who are committed to discovering the truth. They should be fearless and persistent in that search, but that does not require them to be aggressive, In the previous post, I quoted from the great Robin Day’s Code for Television Interviewers: Here’s the quote again:

      *The interviewer should give fair opportunity to answer questions, subject to the time-limits imposed by television;

      *He should press his questions firmly and persistently, but not tediously, offensively, or merely in order to sound tough;

      *He should remember that a television interviewer is not employed as a debater, prosecutor, inquisitor, psychiatrist or third-degree expert, but as a journalist seeking information on behalf of the public.

      We haven’t quite got that right here.

      • 14.1.1

        To expand Brian’s point from my perspective, the point of an interview of someone in power is that they know stuff you don’t and it is an opportunity to explore that.

        However, an aggressive interviewer thinks he or she knows it all, isn’t interested in finding out anything more and just wants to embarrass or prove the subject wrong.

        The comments here divide into those who have a political barrow to push and are only interested in weapons with which to do that and those who have a more nuanced view of politics.

      • Sir Robin Day (overbearing, and in an accusative tone): “Excuse me, your Royal Highness, but may I remind you….” etc etc.

        Top Dog in his profession – knocks Dimbleby into a cocked hat. Espiner, Hill, Garner, Plunkett et al…also ran.

      • “Agressive” as quoted- not my word.oh ghost who walks.
        However I do have to note that any forms of intense and hard questioning will always be greeted by some as agression- and the flip side is that there are but one or two interviewers who show self promotion and a marked lack of manners at times- which , as the eloquent quote you quote , shows need not be the case. On the whole I think we have a great mix and such is the nature of our democracy that differing ideals and therefore different challenges can only be answered by an array of journalists – and not all will agree- which is a good thing!
        The only thing perhaps lacking is a greater cultural mix of journalists / interviewers that get to question and challenge and offer balanced views.

  15. 15


    I entirely agree with your unscientific poll Brian. The GCSB is a total Wellington beltway ‘gotcha’ issue. The media have been searching for years for any issue to get under Key’s skin and they have managed it with the minutiae of this issue. Middle NZ voters are yawning – if anything they see Key’s proactive tapping of the non establishment but clearly talented (disclosure – I was at school with John Key although we did not know each other but I did know the alluded too bright younger Fletcher brother Allister) Ian Fletcher as a positive not a negative. For this reason the media’s obsession (and the opposition’s) comes across as needless time wasting and a beat up and is not costing Key politically.

    That said, if Key gets into a bunker with the media and engages in frequent testy exchanges about mainstream voter issues this WILL affect him. Brian’s advice is sound and Key should follow Crusher and stick to a ‘no stand ups’ rule. Heck the darling of the left Barak Obama has very few formal press conferences, never does stand ups and favours one on one puff pieces with media outlets unlikely to push him with sticky questions. NZ politicains are more accessible for sure but Key can maintain cordial relations with the press but just have the engagements in a forum more of his choosing and thus subject to more control and message discipline.

  16. It only gets worse. War with North Korea one week ,Weapons of mass destruction the next. If he gets a third term we are Doomed!

  17. It’s suddenly dawned upon John Key that the media — just like the banks — are fair-weather friends. No surprises, when they call for the umbrellas back at the first sign of darkening clouds. Especially, when he goes about calling them “knuckleheads”. He can hardly feign hurt, when he gets served up a knuckle sandwich.

    The GCSB is an unholy amalgam of pretence, conceit, delusions of grandeur and make-believe. I’ll say one thing about Helen Clark, she made the right call in paring back the Air-Force, unpopular that it was. And this useless and expensive organ of government needs to go the same way of mothballing the Skyhawks.

    The GCSB was a creation of Rob Muldoon; an instrument he used to consolidate his grip on power. It currently soaks up $100m of our money, when this could be better spent on resourcing Police and Customs intelligence, to go after drug smugglers manufacturers and traffickers. That is where the real harm is done; with the violence and social misery, endemic burglaries etc, and where society needs protection from. Not eavesdropping and chasing copyright infringers etc.

    Whatever intelligence-gathering function the Government needs to protect us from — remote and perceived threats to our national security — can be incorporated into the equally fanciful S.I.S.

    • 17.1

      Except Key was right. The Auditor General validated his authority to control the process and appoint the GCSB director he wanted under the law.

      On that issue the media were, indeed, the knuckleheads.

  18. JK is a classic motor mouth. Whether in a formal interview or when ambushed by the media pack he cannot resist the ill prepared throw away line. We had the instance in China where he unilaterally declared war on North Korea. The GCSB/Dotcom saga is littered with JK’s contradictions and lapses of memory. And this morning we have him telling the nation – since it was on radio I could not tell whether or not he had a straight face – that the world is beating a path to NZ cyber doors to help manufacture weapons of mass destruction. What a flimsy excuse for legislation allowing GSSB to spy on citizens with the usual nonsense that the innocent have nothing to fear. The innocent have everything to fear.

    I imagine the next stage will be telling us that North Korea has developed a nuclear tipped pavlova courtesy of Alison Holst’s computer.

    God defend NZ from this idiot.

    • 18.1

      You should confine your comments to stuff you know something about, whatever that is. There are indeed some small high tech companies in Auckland making defence components.

      Nor did Key declare war on North Korea. And as far as the GCSB is concerned, my understanding is that the proposal is to continue doing what it thought it was authorised to do and has been doing but with much more stringent, independent and better resourced oversight. That is in fact an improvement rather than a backward step.

      Sadly it is Key who needs defending from idiots.

      • But wait Alan, its not just those ‘hi tech’ companies in Auckland. A highly volatile strain of gas capable of causing a nuclear type explosion has been developed from naturally produced cowshed by-products. Leaked knucklehead reports claim this highly secret development originated from experiments in the hills behind Taihape.

        Keys media claim that New Zealand technology has been targeted to create weapons of mass destruction is designed to protect those Federated farmers retain the patents to this ground breaking explosive technology and assist those farmers who want to increase profits by ‘adding value’ with the inclusion of this gas to existing dairy exports to China.

        Warner Bros, however, have been assured by Key total film rights including the use of the hills behind Taihape for any future Disney movie production.

      • 18.1.2

        I am well aware that there are high tech companies making defence components. What is not need is JK’s hyperbole to justify a change of legislation.

        There is not the slightest ambiguity in s14 of the GCSB Act. If you read the wording it is crystal clear that there was no intention whatsoever to allow GCSB to target domestic communications and it is a fig leaf of respectability to claim otherwise to justify a law change.

        I am glad you think it an improvement to widen the powers of GCSB. Clearly you also believe the innocent have nothing to fear. I would also suggest that these changes in the law will not improve the security of these high tech companies one iota.

        As an IT man your self you will know IT security is built from within and is part of a culture. If the security of these comapnies is lax all the legislation in the word will not make a difference exept possibly to tell you that someone has pinched the pavlova recipe.


          Ben, my point of view is that there are two equally high priorities. One is to ensure NZ has the greatest capacity at least cost to ensure protection of New Zealanders’ lives and freedoms. The second is to ensure as great as possible freedom and privacy for New Zealanders who do not threaten the safety or property of others.

          So a priori I support efficiencies and rationalisation of security services together with rigorous supervision to ensure they are not abused. It seems to me at the moment that the proposed changes are consistent with these objectives.

          As for IT security, yes, the first line of defence is certainly the obligation of the individual companies. However I do think the security services have a contribution to make in identifying threats and tools that may otherwise not be known – particularly as the most serious intrusions are often internal.

    • God, could do better defending NZ from ourselves, the very selves who put him in power that is.

    • Methinks your comprehension isn’t what it may once have been, Ben. And have you got a better idiot in mind?

  19. Incidentally, Ghost of BE, presumably in your ethereal form you are now convinced that there is an afterlife. I look forward to Ghost of BE; Scourge of the Godless.

  20. The ghost of BE has risen… praise the Lord!

  21. Please, do not ridicule John Key’s solemn need for the GCSB and its role in our national security, as well as providing vital military intelligence to the U.S. It is through the GCSB’s diligent monitoring of communications from our two spy satellites at Waihopai, that our PM can proudly inform the Pentagon that Kim Jong-il prefers chicken-feet congee for breakfast over toast and Marmite.

  22. I have “Key” going through my person like “Brighton” goes through a stick of rock candy, but our Dear Leader had better watch his backside. The “I Forgot” routine ( beyond belief ages ago and has become tiresome in the extreme.

    He needs to get back to straight answers toute suite: if you’re a Premier soccer player you needn’t cannily gouge the flesh from an opponent’s shin, because a million cameras will hang you out to dry. Key keeps doing the same but stupidly in my view, but mistakes the subsequent bollocking from his 4 million referees as some kind of approval. One day soon, he might just see a flash of red.

  23. I am not so sure this is the beat-up that people think it is.

    In the end
    (1) we have some indication that Key was obfuscating around how well he knew Fletcher, and whether he had his phone number, or got someone to get it.
    (2)that Key took the un-normal step of suggesting and contacting a candidate who it seems from most analysis that he was a very good candidate (except that he hadn’t had a career in learning to kill people) – and further it has been seen that Key had a right to be involved as this position is not a normal state services position.
    (3) That the GCSB had been acting illegally – this information being presented out of an investigation the Key commissioned, not really from some other investigation.

    So I think the media has just played into Key’s hands; there has been little real substance in what they have said, other than issues brought to light in the investigation – which now seems is going to be resolved in a new law.

    Key gets the opportunity over a trivial affair to step back and re-evaluate his relationship with the media.

    The opposition benches show they have nothing to offer, and their only strategy is to attack Key.

    I think Key has done the equivalent of walking past a car with a couple of dogs inside and gone woof woof and they have started jumping around widely barking and doing all sorts of damage to the owners car whilst he walks on safely – gets his bill past and has taken attention off a raft of other issues which are more important.

  24. The ghost of BE has risen…was it on the 3rd or 4th day? :-)

    In my view Key is just a little to friendly for his own good, sure as first terms go his popularity was only matched by the 4th Estates love-in with this guy who offered unfettered access (so it seemed) and an uncomplicated style of delivery that reminded everyone of their favourite 4th form social studies teacher…
    Fast forward a few years and we still have the same guy running the place, but the dynamic has changed, he’s been burnt, shafted, stabbed in the it what you like. The style of communication has to change..lest we find out JK is offering up relationship advice to same sex couples..when all he thought he was talking about something else.
    NZ has never been big on personality politics, it’s always been an adversarial affair, Key if he’s truely smart will add some distance to the relationship..and drown the buggers under a sea of press and communication people.

    Oh, one last thing Ghost of BE….did you move towards the light??

    • “Oh, one last thing Ghost of BE….did you move towards the light??”

      It’s what’s commonly referred to as a ‘near-death experience’.
      You know: your spirit levitates to Heaven, enabling you to look down on to your earthly body; whole life flashes before your eyes with amazing clarity; the all-encompassing serenity is only matched by the resigned acceptance as to your imminent passing, etc.

      And then — “Hey, Presto!” Youse back amongst the Living.

  25. Great to see BE back again. The world of blogging can be a bruising affair and a wild ride but I think it is taking political discussion in directions that were hitherto not available. It takes arguments to another level, and brings in new perspectives. It’s becoming the medium of intellectual arguments in politics in New Zealand. I’m massively more informed politically since I’ve been reading my favourite blogs.

  26. Ghost of BE, “YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS”, obviously the above is mostly tongue in check. In the past few years I have found the Fourth Estate as weak as herbal tea, when it came to scrutinising our politician who is supposed to represent our best interest. Can you image someone coming up with the idea of searching for “weapons of mass destruction”? Blair and Bush, that is the Walker one, should get some credit. We all know how true that information turned out to be. Reds under the beds will be the next salvo.
    JK appears to be getting indecisive about what National should do, Mr Bridges seems to be the fall guy forced to explain the more unpalatable things that they would like to inflict on the NZ public. For example are Kiwis ready to swallow the idea of buying an energy resource which they already own or have part of their coastal area raped for the sake of a small short-sighted gain and a possible massive ecological loss in the future.
    We need a much stronger Fourth Estate in order to keep the people of New Zealand much better informed.

  27. So contravening if not the substance then at least the intent of the cabinet rule book as well as some pretty long standing understandings about how appointments should be made (i.e advertised / to shortlist / an interview process ….. ) doesn’t matter Mr Edwards? If the media had not focussed on this there would have been some serious questions about whether or not it was doing its job! In my view John Key has erred and his error says quite a lot about his attitude to correct processed as well as his own entitlement to bypass those processes.

  28. So what’s it to be, BE, are you staying or going?

  29. The real issue is that Key is sounding off because he’s angry at what’s transpired over the whole Kim Dotcom/GCSB/Ian Fletcher saga. Fair enough. I’d be angry too. But rather than blaming the messenger, the prime minister should be taking a good look in the mirror – and across the road at the State Services Commission.