Save (Radio) New Zealand

I need to write a serious blog. With each week that goes by, I am feeling increasingly let down by our leaders. In the last three weeks, John Key has announced that he will not be reforming the taxation system in line with recommendations made by the taskforces he commissioned. He was never going to follow their advice anyway it seems. He had his own agenda. An agenda of self-preservation. Investing in property in New Zealand is a way to avoid paying tax. It is only rational, then, that instead of investing in businesses or companies (shares) that may create jobs, sell products, bring wealth to New Zealand and grow our economy, people buy houses. It follows, somewhat predictably, that the more people there are who want to buy houses, the more the price of those houses (which are a scarce resource) will be. This is why the cost of buying a home in New Zealand is so crippling. This is why I won’t be able to live in New Zealand for much longer. Bernard Hickey hit the nail on the head with this one in his nzherald.co.nz column. John Key’s supporters own property. He can’t tread on the toes of those who will re-elect him, in Hickey’s words:

“He is saying, I don’t like the activity of investing in property to avoid paying taxes, but I’m not brave enough to challenge them or convince them what is in their best long term interests.”

Hickey also makes the point:

“What happens when the baby-boomers who voted him in start complaining about how they can’t watch their grandkids grow up in New Zealand? Who will deliver the tough message?

Not John Key.”

If that’s not enough to grind your gears and drive you vote for somebody else try what followed; GST is likely to be raised to 15% in order to accommodate tax cuts to personal tax rates. This is totally nuts. High income earners are the only ones who will benefit from this, once again, these people are John Key’s biggest supporters. They will get him re-elected but New Zealand once again, will be worse off.

Then there was the announcement that the government will be considering MINING IN NATIONAL FUCKING PARKS. Think about that for a second. Going into a place that is protected by law from being developed or destroyed with bulldozers and diggers and ripping out some rocks that will be sold so that in the short term the government will have some cash. And then what happens when there are no more rocks to sell? Your left with a hole in the ground, no natural beauty, no ability to be able to market the parks as destinations for international travellers, and no money. Here Key has forgotten to think about the thousands of New Zealand businesses who trade on our international reputation of being environmentally prudent. These companies pump millions of dollars of revenue into the New Zealand economy every year. This revenue has now been put at risk.

Key has tried to put a band aid on it by setting up a fund out of the profit from the sale of anything found by the mining companies which would be dedicated to preserving the parts of the parks that aren’t going to become mines.

This is otherwise known as fucking for virginity.

Then there’s the MMP thing. This has been a long time coming really, as National campaigned on a commitment to hold a referendum to gauge public opinion of the electoral system. I am an MMP apologist, generally, but I am happy to admit that it is flawed and that it could be improved. Throwing out the entire system to start at square one with a new one is, will not solve the complaints people have. Jane Clifton has written about this a number of times and has done so again in this week’s Listener:

MMP has become the catch-all for a host of complaints about politics for which it is not, upon sensible analysis, responsible. The glibbest misconception is that “the tail wags the dog”  -  an impression printed indelibly on the New Zealand psyche by Winston Peters. His New Zealand First Party actually achieved very little in the way of stopping majority parties doing things.

Ask the Green Party how much it was able to “hold the government to ransom” and you will get a long tail of woe, starting with genetically modified food and emissions trading.

The Maori Party may make some gains… but look at what it’s having to suck up: GST hikes, accident compo tightening, to name only this week’s hit parade.

Let us also not forget that it doesn’t matter how you vote, politicians will still get elected. Most of the minor parties have fractured from major ones because MMP has facilitated this, but without MMP, we would still have them. Rodney Hide, Winston Peters et al. would still have been elected under an FPP system as candidates from the National Party.  Both major parties voted for the anti-smacking law, suggesting this would have been legislated with or without Sue Bradford.

And so on.

But my biggest gripe, the thing that has sat me down and made me write this whole blog is Jonathan Coleman’s ultimatum to the board of Radio New Zealand. Coleman has said that the board needs to cut its expenditure or  seek alternative forms of revenue. Simply put, this cannot be allowed to happen.

On Thursday I joined a Facebook group with 144 members called Save Radio New Zealand. That group now has 7,706 members. As someone who runs Facebook campaigns for a living, I can assure you, that represents massive support for this cause. Radio New Zealand is the very last place in the whole country where free and informed debate can be had without bias and without commercial or political interference. Allowing corporate sponsorship of RNZ programming is embryonic to losing RNZ down the same toilet down which we have flushed TVNZ.

Brain Edwards has blogged about why we should save our $38 million radio network.

The saturation level of advertising required to keep the stations viable makes any discursive examination of issues impossible. For a few months I worked as a morning host on Radio Pacific. I vividly recall an interview I did with Alex Haley, the author of Roots. Haley was speaking movingly about his slave ancestry.  Every four or five minutes I could hear my producer in my ear, telling me that we had to take a break to go to the commercials or to the next race at Trentham. ‘This time…’ It was embarrassing to me and demeaning to my guest. On National Radio’s Top of the Morning, a decade later, I could have devoted 40 uninterrupted minutes to that interview with a listenership of up to 340,000 people, outrating every other radio station in the country. 

Commercials and quality radio simply do not go together, which is the very best reason why RNZ should resist any attempt by the government to introduce sponsorship into its programmes. Sponsorship is simply the thin edge of the wedge that will lead to the full commercialisation of the only worthwhile radio network in the country – the destruction, in other words, of public radio in New Zealand.

Why should we care about Radio New Zealand? Not least because democracy requires an informed populace that has access to disinterested news reporting and the discursive and probing analysis of social and political issues and is beholden to no-one other than its listeners – not to government, not to political parties, not to power elites, not to commerce, not to the hawkers of goods and services.

If you have never had the joy of listening to what RNZ has to offer, you should. They have a great website with tonnes of podcasts. Please visit it. Please begin to understand, if you haven’t already, what your government is doing to your country.

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2 Responses to “Save (Radio) New Zealand”

  1. This was a wonderful little rant! I mean that in the nicest way possible. This good serious blog hit several nails on the head. Until late last year I thought that maybe this National government wasn’t so bad, after all, but so much of what we feared seems to be rearing its ugly head now.
    I’ll finish with a quote I’m borrowing from Dan Shanan, who made the most of the Broadcasting Minister’s presence last night at the Documentary Edge Festival Awards, when he announced on stage: “A country without public broadcasting is like a person without a soul.”

    • ThreeDice Says:

      Every now and again I post a serious blog. I promise I will be back on form with more photos of half naked girls by tomorrow.

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