David Clark not doing interviews despite assurances from Ardern and Robertson

Minister of Health David Clark was a no show on Q+A today and has refused other requests for interviews despite the Prime Minister and Grant Robertson claiming he is always available (and knowing he is refusing).

On Thursday Stuff reported Robertson as saying “He’s available to front anytime”.

But as Jack Tame pointed out he reneged on a scheduled Q+A interview for today so wasn’t always available as stated. RNZ Live referred to it as “a no show’.

Also from RNZ Live:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was grilled by journalists as to why Health Minister David Clark has declined some interviews this weekend. She said others had fronted, he was at home at lockdown and he would continue to be available for interviews.

Tova O’Brien reported:

Dr Clark refused Newshub’s repeated requests for an interview, instead sending a short statement.

So according to Robertson and Ardern, Clark is “available to front any time” and “would continue to be available for interviews”, but according to journalists he isn’t.

The Minister of Health, during the biggest health crisis for decades, is remote from the centre of Government and Ministry of Health activity (working from home in Dunedin) and is not giving interviews despite the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance saying he is available (but knowing he isn’t doing interviews).

Something is obviously not right here. Actually probably three things, Ardern, Robertson, and Clark’s application to his job.

It looks like journalists are onto the Missing In Action issue now.

Men’s issues and inequality

Inequality doesn’t just affect women, it can affect men too, sometimes differently to women, but there are prejudices, unfair sweeping criticisms and institutional biases against men as well as against women.

This shouldn’t detract for issues that women face, they are overdue for addressing, but things aren’t entirely stacked for men and against women.

One example that is often quoted is the apparent assumption by police that in violent domestic situations men are the instigators and perpetrators and are the ones that must be removed from family homes. I don’t know how true this is now, in 2018, because the treatment of domestic violence has changed markedly over the last fifty years, but it is an obvious issue of concern still.

A thread at Reddit looks at men’s issues: ‘You idiots, Google it’ – Jack Tame fires up over commenters asking ‘where’s International Men’s Day?’

“I’d love to have a conversation about men’s issues that wasn’t set in the frame work of anti-feminism or misogyny for once.”

“Check out r/menslib. It is just sub to say these are the issues facing men, and no, feminists aren’t the cause.”

“I was going to recommend the same place. Good, positive community. Feminist aligned, rainbow alphabet friendly. Angry misogynists need not apply…”

On domestic violence:

I think it’s fair to direct some criticism at feminists for at least not helping, if not holding back addressing men’s issues.

A good example of this is domestic violence research. Feminist researchers pushed there ideological point of view and inhibited research that showed female perpetrators and male victims. See this articleThis video has clips of a Dunedin Longitudinal study researcher talking about the problems they had with sharing their research. Here another video of a partner violence researcher talking about the difficulty of presenting research that is counter to the feminist ideological position.

On the bias towards women’s issues:

I think there is a real issue with influential feminists and feminist theory though.

For example, Dr. Jackie Blue from the human rights commision frame gender equality as exclusively a woman’s issue. Julie Anne Genter believes there is no need to have specific measures to address men’s inequalities. It these attitudes from people in power that make progress on men’s issues difficult.

I don’t know if this is accurate about Dr Jackie Blue and Julie Anne Genter.

As Minister for Women it is Genter’s job to advocate for women, not men.

And what’s wrong with that, exactly? As a male, I too am concerned about men’s issues in terms of mental health, education and justice laws. These are inequalities that can and should be solved through fixing policies within these particular areas and overcoming the societal problems that cause these discrepancies in the first place (eg. alternatives in the justice system towards rehabilitation will by definition benefit men primarily). Women face unique institutional barriers in representation in parliament, pay equity, and have unique health issues that men don’t face(in terms of pregnancy etc.) that need require a dedicated policy more than the equivalent for men do.

Nor, am I convinced it’s JAG’s job to institute these changes. Why not take it up with men that are directly responsible for these issues? Like Ministers David Clark for Health or Kelvin Davis for corrections?

Health and Corrections (prisons) are two areas that men can have disadvantages – far more of them are imprisoned and stuck in incarceration, re-offending cycles, and screening programs for illnesses that largely afflict men lag that of women’s health issues.

Life expectancy for men still lags that for women.

Men face unique institutional barriers as well albeit different ones. I’m actually researching this at the moment so I can make a submission to the UN human rights review. The biggest issue so far is that we haven’t been reporting violations of men’s human rights to the UN. We should have equality under the law, and currently, we have a few laws that discriminate against men. This has not been reported. The amount of violence against women has been reported, but the figure for male victims have been left out.

Another issue is that the Ministry for Women is the government’s expert on gender. It unreasonable for the MfW to have the expertise and knowledge of men’s issues. Cabinet papers are required to have a gender analysis, but this is focused on the effects on women.

Some of men’s issues simply haven’t improved. Boys and men have been behind in education for decades. Suicide rates for men have dropped since the nineties but have flattened out and are still significantly higher than the lowest point. The Justice Minister isn’t interested in addressing the bias against men in the justice system.

You can’t have one gender equality standard for women and another for men. That’s not gender equality.

I’ve made a similar point before – equality means equal standards for anyone regardless of gender.

Problems aren’t always gender equal – for example men are more likely to be violent than women 9but not exclusively), and breast cancer and prostrate cancer are not gender equal.

The argument that women’s issues are different or worse isn’t an argument against a men’s ministry (or equivalent) it’s an argument for a women’s ministry.

The fact that we have some stubborn negative outcomes for men that we haven’t been able to make good progress on in the current system should be enough to consider a men’s ministry or some specific intervention.

Another consideration is that we have obligations under human rights treaties to protect men’s and women’s rights equally.

I wonder if how exactly people expect individual government departments will address men’s issues? Perhaps they will need a men’s advocate for each department and someone to coordinate between departments? Maybe someone who is an expert on men’s issues and can be consulted by other ministers?

A contentious comment:

Except mainstream Western feminism is the very thing that is trying to keep men from discussing their issues. When it began criticising patriarchal gender roles and stereotypes, it made men analyse their own situations and they began to realise things weren’t right.

Feminism needs men to be complacent and accepting of their lot in life. More so it relies on men and their sacrificial tendencies, their need to work for the greater good in order to actually advance their agenda. Hence why feminism doesn’t want men becoming aware because it would result in women losing social and legal privileges, something which the movement today does not want.

A response:

That is just not true. I have lost men in my life to suicide and it has been feminists who offered the most support and only feminists that have been interested in discussing gender roles and the influence they play in the suffering of many men in our society let alone acting to challenge those roles.

Just as male equality and female equality and genders issues are not equal, not all feminists and feminist issues are equal.

There is a tendency to highlight the worst rather than the best examples of feminist activism.

A response to Jack Tame’s comment:

Well he has a point. “What about men’s day” is often used as a reason not to care about woman’s day rather than a genuine call to arms on men’s issues. I do support more attention on a specific men’s day/issues focus tho.

One thing in which men are, in general, not equal is their reluctance or inability to discuss serious issues. There has been a tendency for men, in New Zealand at least, to be ‘strong, silent types’, with debate over ‘strong’.

It can be a weakness to keep problems to yourself. It can adversely affect your well being, and it increases the risks of pent up anger exploding into violence, or of pent up depression or feelings of hopelessness resulting in self harm and suicide – men unequally figure in suicide statistics.

If men want better advocacy on male issues they need to take responsibility for it themselves and not moan about the gains that women’s advocacy have made in recent decades.

If men want a Ministry for men or an International Men’s Day then men should make them happen.

Inequality will not be resolved by inaction.

Backroom chat becomes international news

If she has learnt anything from the last few days Jacinda Ardern will be now much more careful about what she says, and to whom. Casual chat in private has become international news.

The Guardian: ‘Not that orange’: New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern regrets gossip about Donald Trump

The New Zealand prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has expressed regret over gossiping about a meeting with Donald Trump after it was reported the US president may have mistaken her for Justin Trudeau’s wife.

Ardern was visibly uncomfortable when asked about reports that she had revealed details of the encounter at the East Asia summit in Vietnam last week to a friend who later went public.

The friend – comedian Tom Sainsbury – revealed in a radio interview that Ardern had told her Trump was “not as orange in real life” and that he had been confused about her identity.

BBC: New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern ‘regrets Trump story

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern says she regrets sharing an anecdote about her recent meeting with US President Donald Trump with her friends.

Washington Post: New Zealand leader regrets story that suggested Trump mistook her for Trudeau’s wife

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said she regrets sharing an anecdote that suggested President Trump mistook her for the wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“It was a bit of a funny yarn,” Arden told TVNZ on Monday morning, adding that it was “something that I don’t want to cause a diplomatic incident over.”

The reality of being Prime Minister – it’s difficult to trust anyone, even those you thought were friends. And one should expect the media to make headlines out of trivia.

The story was blown up on TVNZ’s Breakfast yesterday in a heavily criticised interview.

TVNZ (video of interview): Jacinda Ardern grilled by Jack Tame over whether Trump mistook her for Justin Trudeau’s wife – ‘It’s quite complicated’

ODT (NZME): Ardern interview slammed as being far from tame

Viewers have slammed Jack Tame as “rude” and “bizarre” over an awkward interview with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

One said Tame’s line of questioning was so “ridiculous,” he’d made her turn the TV off.

Tame has defended this morning’s awkward interview on Breakfast, saying it’s his job “to ask questions”.

Claire Trevett:  Mrs Trudeau, I presume? PM Jacinda Ardern clearly needs better work stories

Ardern had told Sainsbury backstage during the NZ Music Awards because he was a friend of hers. She had told a longer version of the tale to at least one other person.

Ardern has since said she possibly should have just stayed quiet about it. Too right.

Ardern has learned the difference between gossiping as Prime Minister – especially when it involves a controversial figure such as Trump – and gossiping as a backbench MP, or even simply a friend.

In their desperation for trivial headlines the media is forcing politicians to be less forthcoming with comment, and meticulously careful about what they say. This is a shame, but we seem to be stuck with the way things are.

The media have a habit of biting the hand that feeds them.



Tame Barry versus Henry Henry Henry

This morning TV One will have a new look as far as presenters go, with Hilary Barry and Jack Tame taking over. A while ago Barry was newsreading on Newshub and trying to soften Paul Henry’s look on TV3’s morning programme.

I don’t watch ‘the Henry show with a bit of news’ unless there’s something of particular interest on (I watch Twitter to see what’s coming up) because I find him distracting, too opinionated and too disrespectful of the opinions of others.

I generally liked Barry’s presentation in the past because she was unobtrusive, as I think any news presenter should be. I’ll see how she goes when she is the focal point of a morning ‘show’.

So for morning news and associated fluff we now have Tame Barry versus Henry Henry this is all about me Henry.