A poor showingMartin Doyle
By that, I’m not saying anything negative about this honourable burg. In fact, it’s a compliment. Wellington has a long history of political discussion, fresh ideas, challenging new thoughts, and blunt honesty. It doesn’t mean that we accept new ideas but at least we don’t totally suppress them. If a discerning tourist asked me where in New Zealand could you find a city where you can guarantee that every second person thinks for themselves and is willing to spill their guts at the drop of a hat, I’d say Wellington.
That said, we also have a despicable history of crushing new-wave writers, advocates of cultural reform, and true public art. It’s as if we have two sides to our personality: at times like Freddy Mercury, at times like Joseph Stalin.
You see these two sides when you walk through the inner city. On one corner you have the colossal, glassy Central Library just about exploding with books and history and revolutionary ideas. And just across the road, on the very next corner, the stocky, concrete box of Wellington police station. The rumpus room; and the padded cell.
Mind you, healthy democracies need checks and balances. That is why we put all our lunatics in parliament where we can keep an eye on them. It’s also why our Bill of Rights provides for free speech. Courts operate independently in their judgements. And our media are like an intelligent, free-thinking third party which can examine the activities of all the others. That’s the theory anyway. That’s the plan, Stan.
However, the tedious reality of New Zealand is that the media appears to have been bullied into a silent, obedient submission to government spin-doctors. I am not advocating for a particular political party, but what I am advocating is in effect a political position i.e. I’d like to see real facts, real information, really discussed. Why be afraid of the truth?
When Wellingtonian Bryan Bruce had his documentary Inside Child Poverty shown on TV3 just before the General Election, he revealed a truth that is usually ignored. I don’t think anyone has challenged his facts. The man was right. And yet we have had an inquiry into whether the documentary was politically biased. It clearly wasn’t (it has been found). But what a stale, neurotic little country we have become when politicians can so easily bully our supposedly free press.
I’m reminded of something else that happened just the before the election. Treasury released glowing figures for our economic growth in the year ahead [which surely would have influenced voters], but once the election was over, immediately revised their predictions to a much humbler prospect. [Cue fast talk about events overseas we can’t control etc, etc; yeah yeah]. And no, there was no inquiry into that one.
New Zealand media needs to do what Wellingtonians do very well: spit the truth out and talk about it.