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PENN RAINE: In the eye of the beholder

Since Saturday, the usual suspects have, among their cries of surprise at Labour’s slap-down, been suggesting that their slide into ignominy could have been avoided if only they had not incinerated so many of their contentious policies. This amusing anti-logic has us scratching our heads. Are these journos suggesting that if the secretive Three Waters proposals had been enshrined in law along with the widely criticised social insurance policy and the RNZ/TVNZ merger then the public thumbs-down would have miraculously turned to cheers? Do they hold the view that the proposed hate speech laws would have become cherished in familiarity by those for whom they were designed to muzzle?

Seriously? These are the same media voices who were shining up Chippie’s image for being down with the ordinary voters, for understanding their pain – the honest chipper chappie, chucking out all the nasty policies that only weeks before he had cheered on. Nothing to see here, just an ordinary bloke down at the dairy with nothing to hide.

Political commentators in Australia this week are suggesting that the two main reasons for Albanese’s humiliation by the results of the Voice referendum are the Prime Minister’s arrogance and the media’s deafness.


You could claim, and many have, that Chris Hipkins was handed a poisoned chalice even though his PR luvies branded him in such a way that a fawning media loyally denied that his original popularity bump was the dead cat bounce. Early on his team organised press release pics of him scarfing pies and sossie rolls in an attempt to make us want him for our friend because of his down-home relatability. Just yesterday the MSM pack have descended once more into the abyss of cheapo journalism in a chatty puff piece about his new relationship, even as they gently ask whether there is perhaps, just possibly, a question mark over his Party leadership. It’s not a stupid idea for the legacy media to rely on the cheesy photo to persuade support from a superficially engaged voting public. After all it worked a treat for Chippie’s predecessor.

Ah, Ardern, that international dog and pony show!

The 2019 Mosque terrorist attacks demonstrated the tragic irony that the then Prime Minister had been handed an opportunity to turn bleak darkness into pure PR gold. The victims were a blameless minority at prayer. The perpetrator a lone wolf with a vile and frank ideology. And not even one of our own citizens. An Australian! It would have been a truly incompetent democratic leader who could not respond in a way that attracted a 100% approval rating. That image of Ardern in a hijab has penetrated every crevice of the connected world and hovered above her like a saintly hologram. Until last year.

A picture may be worth thousands of words, but its effect can be trumped by the uneasy feeling that a citizenry has when it suspects that it is being taken advantage of. When Australia denied the Voice last weekend they were reacting to its lack of transparency, the feeling that there was trickery afoot. When New Zealand dismissed Labour last weekend, we were at last showing the same visceral response to Labour’s cloudy agenda, as well as its visible past crimes.

I’m bothered that as a nation our attention spans have been eroded by the soundbite and by cheap click-bait. This morning a friend hailed me when I was out walking with, ‘Now we’ve got to put up with that melon-head for the next three years.’

We have hard times ahead to heal our country when much will be asked of us, I suspect, and we will need to do a lot more than make up our minds about our nation’s direction based on a single image and a knee-jerk reaction.

Aren’t we better than that?

Penn Raine is an educator and writer. She lives in Auckland and south-west France.

4,113 views101 comments


I have been enjoying that feeling of schadenfreude as I watch the angst set in for mainstream Media and Labour party, as their co-dependent charade comes to an end.

Replying to

Oh Yes !!!!!!!


My comment

Labour has failed to be reelected but has done lasting damage to NZ and its population. They will be back in power sometime, ready to dust off their divisive policies and continue to attempt to implement them. Some are already well baked in, particularly within the public sector.

Things I will never forgive Labour and its coalition partners for -

Applied Deception

Not taking the public with them, just implementing, for instance, the divisive co-government He Puapua policies.

These were about giving iwi and hapū a say, for instance, over water infrastructure and, more importantly, water assets.

This was really a transfer of power and money to an already wealthy tribal elite. I am referring particularly to th…

Replying to

Absolutely !!!!!!!


Just think of how the election would have turned out had the fawning press not been so dishonest.

Replying to

A landslide for National?


National and ACT narrowly won the election despite the political interference by state owned radio and TV media controlled by the left wing media hierarchy and those privately owned media whose allegiance was purchased by Adern with taxpayer dollars. They used "Freedom of the Press" in an attempt to undermine our democracy. If the country wants change with fairness and a democracy now is the time to enact laws that will help deliver that. I suggest having the media companies and their commentators licensed, and with either caught deliberately participating in lies, misinformation and or censorship, punishment being loss of their license to operate. The public of NZ deserve no less. These people won't clean up their act voluntarily.

Oct 23, 2023
Replying to

They should be given 6mnths to pay all the money back.


It is starting to feel like the adults have returned to the room in Govt, and the juveniles are withdrawing. And the adults are ignoring the media. About time.

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