Having control of the radio waves is a powerful way to massage the message.
When I heard a confident and (clearly) arrogant Marcus Lush state he would not give up his evening radio show on Newstalk ZB if he won the Invercargill mayoralty, I was shocked.
He is already a councillor and has been using his position as a radio personality (by default) to promote himself for the bigger gig: he looks likely to win. Even without actually talking about it, his voice and celebrity is out there and speaks for itself before his election campaign had even started.
That in itself is not a problem if, should he win, he steps down. If he does not, he should be asked to.
Lush is a talent, and it is a lucky coincidence at this time that his occupation is giving him maximum publicity. I watched a TV series he narrated years ago and was impressed.
However, if he becomes mayor, the conflict of interest is glaringly obvious. Having control of the radio waves five evenings a week is a powerful position to be in. With the power to cut off opinions he does not like, he can sanitise the conversation just like mainstream media do with our news.
Many people ring talkback to have a gripe about central or local government. Given his show is a nationwide one, an example of a clear conflict of interest is his admission:
… ‘I probably mention Invercargill 30 times a night.’
This is before he has (potentially) won the mayoralty. What about the rest of New Zealand wanting to discuss their issues? Do they get a word in?
Even as a councillor it has been reported he has left council meetings early to get to his radio show. And he has intimated that, if elected mayor, he could time meetings to fit around his broadcasting job.
This is why his competitors could make the valid point that his radio job would compromise his ability to do justice to the mayoralty.
I have very little experience of listening to Lush. However, I understand he is quite a supporter of the Labour Government and is not averse to cutting off opinions he does not like, giving him, as a high-ranking elected public servant, the ultimate power to control input around the political discussion.
Opinions being filtered or sanitised is another aspect of the propaganda we experience every day from our MSM. One example is a recent Taxpayer Curia poll showing National and ACT could govern alone. This was big news; however, only the NZ Herald reported it. Others were slow to follow, if they covered it at all. Then there was National’s decision to reinstate Sam Uffindell, which the media (caught out in their unsubstantiated accusation and intent on revenge) are now making a meal out of, whilst ignoring growing corruption and bullying accusations from within the ruling party.
Lush may have recently won an award for his radio show; however, carrying on in these changed circumstances would be a case of him having his cake and eating it too.
Why has there not been comment in the MSM about this anomaly and a call for him to step down if he wins? Rhetorical question!
Have we become so used to dodgy behaviour with Nanaia Mahuta’s blatant nepotism in the employment of her taxpayer-funded family (prior to and) since the last election that we are becoming desensitised and see this as normal?
And we must not forget there was ne’er a mention of Mahuta’s behind-the-scenes top secret work in Ardern’s campaign. Had she campaigned on Mahuta’s separatist agenda, she knew the public would not have voted for her, so she kept it quiet.
Therefore Ardern gained power in 2020 by deception (and 2017 by selection).
To her credit, Audrey Young when attempting to (laughingly) rate the abilities of the Maori caucus (is that not a bit racist?) did suggest Mahuta’s family’s problematic employment should be investigated more formally.
The way our mainstream media operate, we will be lucky to get any traction on this issue, and Lush winning the mayoralty and carrying on with his radio show will also not be seen as a problem.
Labour and the (largely) left-supporting media are only good at recognising a conflict of interest from their competitors. Just ask Judith Collins.
Wendy Geus is a former speechwriter and generalist communications advisor in local government. She now writes for the pure love of it. This article was first published HERE