.......(if there was one) to determine what media will tell us about Treaty issues
Our monitors of the government’s official website have spotted no press statements from Willie Jackson since July 8, when he paid tribute to Dr Ihakara (Kara) Porutu Puketapu.
We are disappointed because we are expecting – correction, we are hoping – to see something today, preferably a denial that Jackson is meeting with mainstream media people to determine how Maori and Treaty issues should be reported.
Our source is a press statement released yesterday which says:
“The Taxpayers’ Union understands from a senior media source that Stuff had invited competitors to a proposed meeting tomorrow with Broadcasting Minister Willie Jackson with the apparent purpose of agreeing to set of principles or guidelines for how Māori and Treaty matters should be reported on by those in the mainstream media industry.”
The Taxpayers’ Union had earlier requested an interview with Radio NZ’s CEO on the proposed meeting, but this was not agreed to.
Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams raises two issues.
First, there’s the constitutional questionability of the Minister getting together with fourth estate executives to ‘agree’ on how a contentious matter should be reported.
Second, he says there appears to be Commerce Act questions about an attempt for industry collusion.
“Groupthink in our newsrooms is one thing, but agreeing with competitors on commercial conduct isn’t just wrong, it could be criminal.”
Williams has called for the Commerce Commission to launch an investigation into the circumstances of the meeting, who organised it, and what has been written about its purpose.
“We hope that our source is wrong, and that nothing untoward is involved, but for the public’s trust in the media, we need them to get to the bottom of this.”
The mainstream media have not published this press statement, according to Point of Order’s search this afternoon.
Nor can we find any rebuttals of the Taxpayer Union’s claims.
The issue of the alleged meeting was raised by ACT leader David Seymour too.
He says Broadcasting Minister Willie Jackson should come out and deny he is meeting with journalists this week to discuss how they should report on the Treaty.
“We are hearing reports of a meeting held by Stuff with Willie Jackson to agree to a framework or principles for reporting on Treaty of Waitangi issues.
“It is too fantastic to be true. Jackson should deny the meeting is taking place or explain what it is about and how such a meeting is appropriate within the regulated period of an election campaign.
“Voters deserve to know.”
Seymour reminds us of the Labour Government’s track record when it comes to encouraging media to report its version of the Treaty.
The $55 million Public Interest Journalism Fund, for example, was only open to media who were willing to report Labour’s view of the Treaty.
Seymour further draws attention to “a quiet constitutional revolution” that is going on in New Zealand.
“Rather than accepting Article Three of the Treaty says all New Zealanders are equal under the law, the courts, academics, bureaucrats, and some politicians are pushing the revisionist view that the Treaty promised a partnership and requires co-governance.
“It’s the job of the media to hold politicians accountable, especially in election year. It would be completely unacceptable for a Broadcasting Minister to even discuss how an important issue like co-governance should be reported. Jackson should deny he’s doing that.”
Point of Order is keen to learn which of the mainstream media have given space to that statement, too.
About as much space – we suspect – as has been given to the issue of race-based healthcare.
Precious little, if any.
Last Wednesday, ACT Deputy Leader and Health spokesperson Brooke van Velden issued a statement to say she had revealed in Parliament that pregnant mothers are receiving $50 prezzy cards simply for turning up to pregnancy assessments and six-week assessments.
But there was a catch. The mothers had to identify as Māori to get the prezzy card.
“The funding for this divisive policy has been taken from Community Services Card funding,” she said.
“Labour is taking money from a scheme which benefits the economically vulnerable, to give it to a scheme which exclusively benefits mothers from one ethnic group.”
Van Velden asked Associate Health Minister Willow-Jean Prime in Parliament why the Government was giving out incentive payments defined by race, rather than need.
“Despite me putting the question to her on notice and her having an entire day to prepare, she didn’t have any idea what I was talking about, and instead referred to free pregnancy assessments.”
Using ethnicity to prioritise healthcare was lazy and divisive, van Velden said.
“New Zealanders are frustrated that people get access just because of who their ancestors were. If that isn’t the very definition of a lottery, I don’t know what is.”
Labour had never asked New Zealanders if they wanted access to public healthcare to be determined by ethnicity, van Velden pointed out.
“And even now they won’t be open about the extent to which ethnicity determines access. ACT, on the other hand, will be direct with Kiwis – no ACT Government will use ethnicity to determine access to public healthcare.”
A measure of Willow-Jean Prime’s grasp of the issue is that she sought leave of the House to make a personal explanation to correct an answer to van Velden’s question.
Hon WILLOW-JEAN PRIME: I would like to correct an answer I gave in relation to oral question No. 3, supplementary No. 3 yesterday. While I was speaking about the Best Start Kōwae assessment tool and it being available to all, I wasn’t clear that the incentive payments that are paid to the practitioner are paid when they use the assessment with individuals who identify as Māori.
To the contrary, as Hansard shows, she had been very clear in insisting:
”In terms of Best Start Kōwae, the practitioners and practices who have implemented Best Start Kōwae—which is available to all—receive after each assessment a $100 payment as part of the Best Start pregnancy assessment, and a $50 payment per the Best Start baby assessment. That is available to all. Over $2.5 million of the $3.5 million referred to earlier was to set up the programme to be available for all. Incentive payments are paid to those practices which are implementing the tool, which is available to all.
Hon Peeni Henare: Can the Minister confirm that the national hauora Māori coalition serves all communities?
Hon WILLOW-JEAN PRIME: I can.
Van Velden accordingly released another statement to say Willow-Jean Prime had been “blissfully unaware of her own policy” when questioned about it in Parliament the previous day.
“Today she has corrected her answers and admitted that pregnant mothers are receiving $50 prezzy cards purely because of their race.
“It’s a shame the Minister wasn’t more aware in Question Time yesterday. The topic was put to her on notice so she had an entire day to prepare, there was no excuse for her to not even know what she was being asked about.”
This gave van Velden another crack at pointing out the funding for this divisive policy had been taken from Community Services Card funding. And so Labour was taking money from a scheme which benefits the economically vulnerable, to give it to a scheme which exclusively benefits mothers from one ethnic group.
Point of Order is a blog focused on politics and the economy run by veteran newspaper reporters Bob Edlin and Ian Templeton