Back Benches – sad to see the end #2

Back Benches had it’s final last night, I’ve already posted on it: Back Benches – sad to see the end #1.

But there is another sadness I want to keep separate from that tribute. Some of the MP and audience behaviour was, sadly, inappropriate.

Sad note #1

Clare Curran started on Twitter before the show began:

Peter Dunne has a cheek turning up to #backbenches how’s he going to spin it? #SaveTVNZ7
How can the National Govt and @PeterDunneMP justify killing off such a fantastic channel #SaveTVNZ7

Curran has a cheek. Perhaps she’s annoyed she didn’t get invited on for the fianl panel. Peter Dunne was invited to be on the panel, so why shouldn’t he “turn up”.

Dunne has been a vocal supporter of TVNZ 7. I’m not sure what more Curran expected of him.

Curran has been campaigning hard to retain TVNZ 7 – but this has been over the past couple of months, when the close of the channel was inevitable. So her campaign has been far too late.

Curran has put forward a Member’s Bill to try and save TVNZ 7, but this only happened in the last few weeks, and there hasn’t even been a ballot for Member’s Bills since. It appears to be a “Look at me! I’m doing something!” – but far too late. If she was serious about saving TVNZ 7 this shouldn have been tried a year ago.

Sad note #2

The crowd at Back Benches has become more partisan, and at times very disrespectful. This was evident at the start last night, as described by David Farrar on Kiwiblog-  The final TVNZ7 Backbenches:

So many good things about Backbenchers, and I will miss it. But there were two or three issues which did detract from it.

The first is the behaviour of some in the audience. We saw this tonight where they booed and hissed as Peter Dunne got introduced. I will heckle (hopefully something humourous) an MP when they say something worth heckling, but would never ever boo or hiss an MP – as would be the case for most people.

But the partisan activists who regularly jeer, boo and hiss those they disagree with did the show a dis-service. And if no other broadcaster does pick up the show, then I happen to know their behaviour has been an element in that. Certain broadcasting executives have commented on some of the appalling rudeness.

It was a rude beginning to the programme. Shame.

Sad note #3

The show always ends with the panellists giving a final word with “I’ve been thinking”.

Peter Dunne was first, and he paid tribute to Back benches and TVNZ 7. Similar sentiments were expressed by some of the other panelists.

Jacinda Adern had the final word. She paid tribute, but then chose to address Peter Dunne and asked him to use his “balance of power” vote to save TVNZ 7. How the heck does she expect him to do that? He is not responsible for not renewing funding for TVNZ 7 – a Labour government put a limited timeframe on funding and National chose not to extend it.

There has been nothing in parliament for Dunne to support. The shutting down of TVNZ 7 is not his responsibility, as far as I can see. I suppose he could have not supported the budget because it didn’t include funding, and that may have broiught down the government. I guess that’s what Adern wants, and she doesn’t care about how ludicrous that would have been.

What was Adern thinking? I doubt she thought it through much if at all. She often speaks in repeat stock phrases, so saying something thoughtful may be difficult for her.

I’ve been thinking – that some Labour MPs (and some supporters) spend far too much time on petty and thoughtless politicking, and not enough time being thoughtful.


  1. And I guess this means Clare Curran won’t let me back on Red Alert any time soon, she has already ignored a query as to my my comments keep disappearing.

    Ironic that she is such a strong advocate of public service broadcasting but appears not to be so keen on free speech on the Labour MP blog.

  2. Peter Thompson

     /  June 28, 2012

    To be fair to Clare Curran, she became vocal on the TVNZ7 issue as soon as National announced their decision to cut the funding. Both she and Myles Thomas spoke at the forum on the future of public tv held at Victoria University a year ago. Perhaps it’s just that the mainstream media have really only started paying attention to the issue as TVNZ7’s demise approached?

    • Fair comment Peter. I know Clare has been on thios for quite a while, and it didn’t get a look in amongst the asset approach to the election.

      But that doesn’t excuse blaming others who can do no more than her. And raising expectations for success. And using the TVNZ 7 meetings as Labour/Green campaign meetings (that may or may not be deliberate but it’s how people have seen them).

      I was going to take a back seat until after the end of June and then get active on trying to aid ways of finding some what of getting something back, but I felt I needed to say something about the attacks on Dunne, which I though were lashing out at the popular scapegoat of the moment.