National and the art of distraction

The failure of this National Government to properly address the big issues confronting this country is surfacing in numerous reports. However, the massively resourced spin machine, supported by Crosby Textor influenced strategies, has successfully managed bad press since 2008 and continues to be effective despite the following:
At the same time the Government has been receiving heavy criticism for their lack of influence over the treatment of New Zealanders being deported from Australia. The fact that legislation had to be passed under urgency to manage those arriving back in New Zealand in increasing numbers (despite knowing this would be needed over a year before) was concerning. John Key's attacks on the opposition, accusing them of supporting rapists, resulted in mass walkouts from female MPs that was widely reported internationally

No matter where one looks this Government's care of our children, vulnerable individuals and families and the protection of our natural environment has been shockingly inadequate. Rather than the Government being held to account for its obvious failings the damning reports receive passing mention in newspapers and TV news and rarely make headlines. It is the distractions that receive ongoing attention instead and the Government is using them well. 

The flag referendum is being promoted with some energy and it is interesting that the staged process allows for ongoing announcements from the Government that can be used strategically to distract from embarrassing revelations of incompetency elsewhere.

The success of the All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup saw John Key appearing in dressing rooms and constantly rubbing shoulders (although some cartoons had him rubbing other parts) with our country's sporting heroes. The suggestion of whether Richie McCaw should be knighted received more attention than our child abuse statistics.

While children are still arriving at school hungry, many schools are poorly maintained and we lack thousands of houses, the Government is prepared to latch on to the national grief at the passing of Jonah Lomu and is throwing hundreds of thousands at a stadium based farewell. While Jonah was an amazing sportsman we have had other deserving New Zealanders pass, like Sir Peter Williams QC, with barely any Government recognition. It is clearly a populist ploy to spend so much on Jonah.

The capture of the conversation between Obama and Malcolm Turnbull praising Key couldn't have happened at a more useful time. Key's international image had taken a series of hits with his hair pulling issues, the radio interview where he admitted peeing in the shower and his rape support allegations being reported widely overseas. The positive comments from the most powerful world leader gave Key some breathing space again.

The poor health of our Fourth Estate and a strategic focus on populist politics has allowed our Prime Minister and his Government to float above the mess they are creating and the damage they are responsible for. It is important that we have a strong turnout at the People's Climate Marches in 34 New Zealand towns and cities to show that we aren't all blinded by the spin.


robertguyton said…
"We are dangerously close to being laughed out of Paris. All other countries have to do is scratch beneath the surface of our ‘clean green’ image."

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