Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Karl du Fresne: The media needed a line of attack, and they found one

The left-wing media pack wasted no time identifying the new government’s weakest point.

Seething over an election result that they didn’t like, they have searched for a convenient line of attack and found one in the proposed repeal of Labour’s extremist smokefree legislation.

This has been a running story for the past two days. The media have collectively decided to frame the government’s proposal as an attack on the poor to benefit the rich. Even the BBC picked up on it.

National obligingly played into their hands when Nicola Willis acknowledged on Newshub Nation that money saved by scrapping the laws, and therefore restoring $1 billion worth of government revenue from tobacco sales, will go toward tax cuts that National previously hoped to fund with a tax on wealthy overseas home buyers – a plan vetoed by New Zealand First.

It will have been a sharp lesson for the inexperienced and possibly over-confident new Minister of Finance. Never give the media pack an opening.

Predictably conspicuous by its absence from the media furore is any consideration of the flaws in Labour’s legislative package, which would cut the number of tobacco outlets from 6000 to 600, ban anyone born after 2008 from buying cigarettes and cut the amount of nicotine allowed in tobacco.

Retailers breaching the law would face fines of up to $150,000 and a lifetime ban. Regardless of your personal attitude toward tobacco, which I regard as a pernicious addiction, it’s a piece of legislation that uses the pretext of good intentions to justify authoritarian overkill. As C S Lewis wrote, “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.”

Who decides which corner dairies will be allowed to sell cigarettes and which won’t, and on what basis? What will be the impact on local communities if store owners, deprived of vital revenue from tobacco sales, go out of business? What are the risks of even more ram raids, given that tobacco will become an even more precious commodity? And how did Labour propose to counter the black market, doubtless controlled by gangs, that would inevitably flourish?

Obviously these are minor technicalities that must not be allowed to intrude on the dreamy idealistic vision of a tobacco-free New Zealand. Neither should they get in the way of the media’s determination to portray the new government as unfeeling and regressive.

Karl du Fresne, a freelance journalist, is the former editor of The Dominion newspaper. He blogs at - where this article was sourced.


Kawena said...

What will the media do when they have spent the $55 million bribe of the previous government? Will they try to weedle some more from this government? I can see Winston Peters fronting up!

Anonymous said...

The Ban on Smoking. A long running (TV) saga, that every Cast (Politicians) in the series, have spoken out about removing smoking by > a this point a Years is added to "the script" - but as many will know, with the arrival of each TV series, there is always - always an excuse to length the removal date - having been advised by Treasury that it means MONEY.

At this point - I insert an advert For ABBA - their song 'Money, Money, its a rich Man's world' - think like the IRS - Tax = Govt spending.

If Politicians were (note this word - were) serious about NZ Health, cigarettes could be banned overnight. Mind you to do so, they would need to advise the Corner Dairy Owners, of this action, so said business can "hide their wares, under the counter and sell out of the back door".

Same with Vaping - interesting that concerns were raised when it started to become a trend, and I note from overseas data, that Medical Professionals are now wanting it BANNED altogether - news you will not find in either the Post and/or NZ Herald.

Our NEW Govt Ministers, jeeze give the girl (Nicola Willis) a break, she is suddenly finding what the "bright lights are".

Anonymous said...

They were always going to hammer on something, even before being sworn in they were hammering. This govt does not get a honeymoon from the left.

Spare a thought for the suffering MSM. Tears and tantrums.

Anonymous said...

Why aren't all smokers dying of lung cancer and others who have never smoked a day in their life getting lung cancer.? The left can never answer.

Anonymous said...

It feels like the media has shifted from bias to all out war against the new Government.

Anonymous said...

ban cigarettes but legalize dope - says it all really