Gayford tries to defend Ardern’s no show on Nation & Q+A

Journalists were already getting a bit snarky over Jacinda Ardern’s withdrawal from two scheduled weekend interviews, but consternation levels have risen after Clark Gayford tried to defend Ardern on Twitter.

Interviews with both Newshub Nation today and the other with Q+A tomorrow evening were de-scheduled by ardern. The reason given by the Prime Minister’s office was ‘a diary problem’, but there has been a lot of scepticism over that, especially as she cancelled both interviews, having already pulling out twice from Nation interviews this year.

Sam Sachdeva at Newsroom in Ardern’s chance to change the narrative:

The cancellation of planned media appearances with Newshub, TVNZ and Newstalk ZB, all put down to “diary issues”, will not help her; hell hath no fury like a journalist scorned.

Contrast that with a number of recent interviews with international media that have resulted in gushing profiles (a recent piece from the New York Times being aptly skewered by Mclauchlan), and the cognitive dissonance between glowing overseas coverage and the more complex reality of domestic politics could start to hit home.

This morning:

Watkins:

Hi. It was in The Nation’s diary. And presumably Q+A’s, tho I haven’t spoken to them. Even if she only found out about them on Thursday, she could still have done them. So I don’t accept ‘incorrect’. And why pull out twice earlier this year? I’ve never known a PM to do this.

And given your media experience, I’m sure you appreciate the difference between a studio interview and a stand up. But thanks for taking the time to tweet!

There have been a lot of very defensive tweet…

..but they can’t paper over what is an unprecedented intervention in the Prime Minister’s diary and media matters by their partner.

And to try to swing this to “hurting NZ greater than anything else at this time” is remarkable.

Ardern and now Gayford are hurting their relationship with media, and that may not turn out well for them.

Labour mis-using taxpayer money?

First a word of caution. This apparent bust comes from the Taxpayers’ Union, who say they are funded and run independently but those involved in running it have close links to National.

They have put out a media release today claiming that Labour appear to be running the campaign for Labour mayoral candidate in Wellington out of their Parliamentary offices. Non-parliamentary activities and electioneering are forbidden uses of parliamentary funded resources.

The Taxpayer’s Union say they have been leaked this email:

LabourStafferMayoraltyEmail

That suggests that “we” from the Labour’s Party Whips office have produced a campaign video for “our Labour candidate for the Wellington Mayoralty”. It is a least a bad look, and it may breach Parliaments rules.

Labour were warned about misuse of Parliamentary resources earlier this year. The Taxpayers’ Union was also involved there. From Speaker’s Warning To Labour Over Parliamentary Funds:

Some weeks ago Labour sent an email in the name of Paul Chalmers, the Project Manager at Labour House, to Labour’s Auckland supporters detailing how Andrew Little had opened a Auckland office that will be “the centre of the Labour and progressive movement in Auckland and the place to co-ordinate the local government and General Election campaigns.”

The email also called on “like-minded partners” to share office space and other facility resources.

It appears that Andrew Little and his MPs are pooling together taxpayer resources to open a campaign office in central Auckland for the Party and Phil Goff’s campaign for the Auckland mayoralty. Use of taxpayer resources in this way is clearly against the rules.

The Speaker has confirmed that the Parliamentary Service will be monitoring Mr Little’s spending and has written to him setting out the rules for taxpayer funded out-of-Parliament offices.

The letter from the Speaker to Labour begins:

Speaker2Labour1

And concludes:

Speaker2Labour2

That is a very clear warning to Andrew Little. Labour should be well aware of these rules anyway.

MPs campaigning for local body office while paid for by taxpayers is suspect, although it has both potential benefits and disadvantages.

Not surprisingly David Farrar has also posted on this, fairly carefully, at Kiwiblog: Lester’s campaign being run from Parliament?  Farrar is heavily involved with the Taxpayers’ Union.

But regardless of the source this does look quite dodgy from Labour, especially after already being warned by the Speaker.

Given there past actions I presume the Taxpayers’ Union will advise the Speaker about this, but don’t expect significant repercussions – that’s why parties keep flouting Parliamentary rules, because they think they can keep getting away with it.

But this is not just flouting Parliamentary rules. It is flouting democracy, giving some candidates an unfair advantage over others.

Now I don’t know if this refers to the same Lester campaign video:

Wellington mayoral candidates get creative and cringeworthy with online campaign videos

Wellington’s mayoral candidates have taken to social media, releasing online campaign videos to sell their message to voters.

Labour candidate and current deputy mayor Justin Lester takes an active approach attending various community events and has citizens endorse him. Robinson says Justin ticks nearly every box with his video.

“He shows that he is embedded in communities, in a variety of communities and people trust him and people endorse him. While people are talking about him he’s actively engaged in a whole variety of environments.

“You can’t fault this video I would have to say in my 17 years of campaign video watching this is the best campaign video any NZ candidate has ever produced.”

Claire Robinson believes anybody running in an election should follow the lead of Wellington’s candidates and campaigns will continue to evolve with technology.

I don’t know what Robinson would think if Parliamentary resources were used to make the video.