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JORDAN WILLIAMS: Luxon wants to curry favour with mainstream media

This week the Government dropped another policy bombshell.

The Minister for Media and Communities, Paul Goldsmith, announced that National and New Zealand First have U-turned and are now supporting Willie Jackson’s Bill to tax internet companies and give the media a bail out.

ACT stuck to their pre-election position and "agreed to disagree" by confirming they're still not backing the Bill.

That means Mr Goldsmith will need to rely on Labour or Green MPs to get the media bailout over the line. You really couldn’t make it up.

National's own pollster (and former Taxpayers' Union board member), David Farrar, didn't mince his words. He described the U-turn as "both an unprincipled and a stupid decision". Here's how David summed it up on Kiwiblog:

This is both an unprincipled and a stupid decision. I can handle principled stupid decisions and even unprincipled smart decisions but this is neither.

It is unprincipled because it is forcing successful companies in one industry (social networks and search engines) to fund failing companies in another industry (media). The only rationale for this is that Google and Meta have money and Stuff doesn’t. Will we see Netflix levied money to fund home video rental stores? Will we see Foodstuffs levied money to fund Whitcoulls?

It is also a very stupid decision. Most media is already left leaning as most journalist have a left worldview. The Government is going to pass a law to fund a media that will oppose almost everything that supporters of the Government believe in. Even worse, it will set up a structural incentive for the media to become even more left leaning. Let’s say the Government forces Meta and Google to hand over $20 million a year to local media. Well Labour and Greens next election will insist that levy be doubled to $40 million, and of course that will create an institutional bias in favour of the parties that will benefit media the most. And Te Pati Maori will no doubt insist 50% of the levy go to Maori media companies.

It is also very possible that the proposed law will fail, in that Meta will simply block all NZ news links rather than be forced to pay a levy.

Mr Goldsmith has made few changes to the Bill. But National's changes make it even worse than the Willie Jackson version!

First, Mr Goldsmith proposes that the responsible Minister will be able “to decide which digital platforms are captured by the bill”. Paul Goldsmith says this is “to manage unintended consequences” and which media outlets will get the money.

You might be with the current Government having the power to choose which media get funded, but we also remember the "public interest journalism fund" and the fishhooks about media needing to toe the line on the "partnership" neotribalism interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi.

How will you feel when Labour are back in power and Willie Jackson, Chris Hipkins, or Chlöe Swarbrick will decide what media outlets get how much?

Trust in news is at an all time low: Bailing them out will make it worse.

New Zealand's media no longer reflect the breadth of public opinion. According to polling, Kiwis perceive the major news outlets (Stuff, One News, Newshub and Radio NZ) to be Left-leaning with the NZ Herald being the only outlet people thought was broadly neutral.

And that shouldn’t come as any surprise given how New Zealand’s journalists identify themselves politically. Massey University research reveals that 81 percent of Kiwi journalists consider themselves centre-Left or Left-wing while just 15 percent said they are on the Right. That’s a ratio of more than five-to-one (while the general population are split roughly down the middle). And that’s a big factor in why trust in media is at an all time low. The latest figures out earlier this year showed that just one in three Kiwis said they trusted the news “most of the time”.

But instead of self-reflecting, or the market correcting the imbalance, the media have hoodwinked the new Government into giving them a permanent bailout.

And it won't even work... When a similar scheme was tried in Canada, Facebook simply removed news from its platform entirely. That’s a lose, lose for everyone. And Australia is heading in the same direction. If it passes, the Bill would particularly hit small news outlets like The Platform or Chris Lynch Media in Christchurch that rely on promoting their news content through social media platforms like Facebook.

Make no mistake, this U-turn by National isn't about helping small, contrarian, local news companies. It's a cave in to the owners of outfits like Stuff and the far-Left 'Spinoff' website.

The National Party were elected to kill this bill – now they're cuddling it. National absolutely slammed Labour when Willie Jackson was trying to pass the same regime (the speeches to Parliament are here). They were right to oppose the Bill then, so what's changed?

Our senior National Party sources in the Beehive tell us that the charge of heart is from none other than the Prime Minister himself. We hear that he feels he must pass the Bill to curry favour with the mainstream media.

We know for a fact that even within the Cabinet, there is disgust at this decision. There is still time for National (or NZ First?) to backtrack on the U-turn.

I’m asking you to join me in sending a note to Paul Goldsmith, Christopher Luxon, and Winston Peters to let them know that they have got this one wrong.

Ask them to consign Willie Jackson’s Fair Digital News Bargaining Bill to the political scrapheap and not bailout the media, yet again. Email the decision makers.

We need to knock Labour-like policies like these on the head now before we get a Government continuing the policy platform of Jacinda Ardern and Willie Jackson.

Jordan Williams is a constitutional and commercial lawyer who is Executive Director & Co-founder of the Taxpayers' Union. You can support the Taxpayers' Union to uncover, publicise and advocate against waste here

3,714 views261 comments


2 days ago

Perhaps another way of looking at this is, if the Nats put forward this bill which they know can’t succeed, they can never be accused of “not trying”. When the inevitable media failures occur, it will not be for want of trying and prove to all New Zealand that an unbalanced and unaccountable media is doomed and that a volte face is required to get balanced reporting. Those on the left could always bugger off and pollute the lives of populations in other countries


Replying to

Why do you ask?


I have friends just back from family visit in the UK. We have ram raids, theft, violence and God knows what on a daily basis [ just look at today's Herald online!!!}.. started when Jacinda drove folk to steal knives from Countdown !!! In UK they now have London Full of Muslims, and the West Country trains have regular stops, because the trains have bumped into something... another body online... so another train has to pick up... suicide by train daily. Bespeaks Britain going maaaad too. The gummint in both countries is a waste of time... gutless in the face of Globalist agendas. And the church aint any use either!!!

Tiglath Pileser
Tiglath Pileser
6 days ago
Replying to

Yes, its time gummints stopped farting around, got their heads out of the sand and realised whole nations and ways of life are at risk....... USA without borders, UK no borders worth anything, EU - god help them..... they are sooooo weak and gutless. "AI" in the mix too! There will be blood everywhere before long. BRICS. indeed. Putin will be seen as "saviour"...... But then I'm just a silly old fart !!! 🤐😶🤓


So we've had a change in govt, from Labour-left to Labour-right. In reality in certain key policy areas, bugger-all has changed. Why would a govt bail out a media that constantly subverts and criticizes it? Only becasue they are board with their (media's) agenda! I suspect Nationa;l is buckling under pressure from woke institutions, like the public service, who need the media to push their woke ideas. So much for their tough talk before the election. It was jsut a farce to attract votes. This isn't going to end well for National, as it did for Labour and their PIJF. But guess what? You can have Labour-left back next time. No wonder people are leaving.

Replying to

Yes Mr LACK LUSTER LUXON. Demote the Boardroom fence sitter.


" before we get a Government continuing the policy platform of Jacinda Ardern and Willie Jackson."

I had to laugh at that.

What the hell did anyone think that votes for National were going to get us?

Jul 08
Replying to

That's why I gave ACT both my Electoral and Party vote. Something I had never done before.

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