Wednesday, 18 July 2018 15:14

Virtue Signalling Supplants Political Correctness as Media Touchstone

Need to recognise and then “price in” new virtue trend claims National Press Club president Peter Isaac who cites Taxpayers Union as operating the true parliamentary Opposition via email

You say that the media has become “disintermediated?”
People now have their own media, Facebook, YouTube, blogs and the rest and so they no longer have to use the established media which derived its power from controlling the distribution of peoples views via the narrow neck of newspapers and broadcasting. So private citizens have become empowered, mediated. They no longer have to beg the favour of journalists in order to put their message out.

Jordan Williams

In the New Zealand context what would you see as the most successful exponent of this trend?
My pick remains the Taxpayers Union. Their success is based on their application of the obvious replication of the old direct publisher to living room technique, which is emails. A contemporary version of pamphleteering.

Many not approving of the stern views of the Taxpayers Union have the option of consigning their emails automatically to the trash/spam bins?
The Taxpayers Union and its emails have become the modern equivalent of the era in which the main opposition to the old Muldoon National Government came from the broadcasting studios. Prior to the advent of Helen Clark the Labour government seemed permanently on the ropes and so television in the form of some still familiar names provided the opposition in practical terms.

You have previously described the Taxpayers Union email missives as clumsy?
They were and are. Yet their bludgeon approach is intensively relevant today. They are the virtual opposition in a way that the old state television studios once were, with Jordan Williams (pictured) in a contemporary version of the old Brian Edwards or Ian Fraser anchor-inquisitor role. Nobody wants to talk about this.

Why so?
The old mainstream media has in the past few months made the transition from a politically correct underpinning to the next phase which is virtue signalling. From pc to vs. Diversity diversifies.

Some supporting evidence?
Their guiding of their audience has now transitioned from political correctness, an intense wariness around any sector which at any time in recent history has been at the wrong end of majority behaviour to one of actively signalling a positive distaste to this state of affairs.

What about the new media?
The original New Zealand blogs took an independent line, even a right wing one. But the most recent new media news-cultural, sites have shown this virtue signalling and this may be due to their connections with the mainstream media.

An example of all this needed here.
The best way to illustrate my point is to cite an example of brutish mainstream enthusiasm and endorsement. Notably on mainstream broadcasting the cruel sport of game fishing is avidly covered and encouraged, almost hysterically so, the longer drawn out the death of the fish the better from the programme’s point of view. For some reason sport fishing in which creatures, which many believe to be sensate, are being killed for entertainment remains very much an approved pastime and entertainment. So the every danger of pc now supercharging into virtue signalling is that the minefields are invisible to all but those who laid them in the first place.

Are we not talking just pc here?
Political correctness era was recognised and thus was priced in and the early blogs and then the Taxpayers Union electronic pamphleteering countered it. This new epoch of virtue signalling is the next stage and engulfs us now. It is the latest progression of advocacy journalism and represents an enhanced fervency on the part of the journalistic practitioners to be seen to be on the side of the angels.

Who are the angels?
They are their angels. This is the sinister part and where virtue signalling differs from the old pc. Who exactly decides who the angels in fact are, and who the villains are? For example, I would have thought that game fishermen, and they are almost always men, would have gone on the list. But then there is a great deal of advertising in these game fishing programmes and this is perhaps why they have been cut such a slack line.

Anyone individual we know?
I would have thought that Mark Zuckerberg would have crossed over. But he remains fixedly an angel. This is why we need now to recognise how virtue signalling has now subsumed political correctness. It is there. We need now to understand its dynamics.

Is the Taxpayers’ Union vulnerable?
They will fade as a questioning/opposing force at the point at which their email political policing over things such as virtue signalling becomes windy and their opinion overwhelms the disclosures which to date has made them compulsory reading, an auxiliary, for the mainstreamers.




Sunday, 04 March 2018 15:56

Philippines is Multi Cultural, Diverse, Polynesian, Points Out Ambassador Gary Domingo

 An intense and often exclusive focus on the economies of north Asia dazzled and often blinded New Zealand to a clear view of the rather more accessible value of the Philippines, the country’s ambassador Jesus Domingo told the National Press Club in Wellington.

He observed a similarity between New Zealand and the Philippines in that both nations were obscured by more powerful neighbours.

Australia in New Zealand’s case and China for the Philippines

In New Zealand’s case this was Australia. In the Philippines instance it was the industrial powerhouses of north Asia, notably China.

Mr Domingo was speaking on the topic of “New Zealand’s Asia Opportunity Hiding in Full Sight---The Philippines.”

Mr Domingo, who also represents his country in Oceania, noted the Philippines transition in historical terms in relatively recent times from a Spanish colony to moving under the United States aegis, and then more recently still to independence under the Washington governmental system.

This had made the Philippines far more multicultural, and diverse than was widely perceived, he said.

For example it was not generally understood that the Philippines lay on the northern fringe of the Polynesian migration and settlement.

“We even look like you!” He ventured, reinforcing his people-like-us theme.

The sharing of a number of Polynesian-Maori words was testament to all this he noted.

Mr Domingo touched upon but did not specify the trade and investment links which include for example Philippine ownership of New Zealand food processors Griffins, and also Goodman Fielder.

Neither did he dwell on the New Zealand trade balance with the Philippines which runs at five times in New Zealand’s favour.

Mr Domingo veered diplomatically away from the submerged issue of why in the current free trade frenzy the Philippines featured so rarely, if at all.

He did stress though the Philippines pre-eminence in the export of its people reprising the concept of an empire on which the “sun never set” because Philippine nationals were everywhere; 50,000 in New Zealand.

Noting that a common language, English, and a common religion, Christianity, were powerful elements in enabling Philippine nationals to become productive members of Commonwealth economies, he also stressed his peoples' pre-eminence in caring in roles such as “nannies, and nurses,” as he described them.

Mr Domingo, noting the presence at this same National Press Club event of Singapore High Commissioner Bernard Baker, singled out the island state as a particularly outstanding example of a Commonwealth member in which flourished Philippine nationals in this caring, nurturing sector,

Mr Domingo defined also a willing quality in the Philippine workforce which he described as being one of “meekness” which enabled nationals to take up such a large part of the arduous New Zealand milking shed capability.

Mr Domingo, who prefers to be known as Gary, served as Philippine Consul in Saudi Arabia, and was a member of the Philippine delegations to the United Nations in Geneva and also New York.


Greg Besa JP Philippine community leader, H.E Jesus Domingo, National Press Club treasurer Bryan Weyburne, National Press Club president Peter Isaac, High Commissioner for Singapore H.E Bernard Baker.

Stalwarts -National Press Club’s Richard Long and Joyce Gibson

Puzzlement -National Press Club event director Rex Kropotkin Benson

Asia traders- Andrew and Melody Criglington

Clubbers- Adrienne and Ian Stewart




Aratoi Municipal Art Gallery Commemorates Work of

National Press Club Vice President Peter Bush in

Photo Exhibition that Spills Out into Town StreetsAratoi Municipal Art Gallery Commemorates Work of National Press Club Vice President Peter Bush in Photo Exhibition that Spills Out into Town Streets

A municipal art gallery has hung around the life and times of National Press Club vice president Peter Bush an exhibition encompassing the photo journalist’s work in covering international rugby test matches over almost 70 years.

The photographs of the various All Black matches also literally spill out into the streets of Masterton from the exhibition at the town’s Aratoi Art Gallery..

The son-et-lumiere exhibition is thought to be the first instance at any such municipal gallery in which is commemorated the themes in the same display of sport, photography, and applied journalism, and which then overflows and become amplified in the display shop windows of the township at large.

Masterton is the regional hub of New Zealand’s Wairarapa Valley, an extensive mountain-girt farming region north of the capital, Wellington.

The exhibition is entitled Hard on the Heels and in it Bush runs refrain on his life’s work which is that rugby is a “hard game for hard men.”

In it Bush also demonstrates by inference the order and method inherent in his long career in the preservation and meticulous cataloguing of his negatives.

The exhibition starts at Aratoi with a wall montage of the Hard on the Heels exhibition (pictured) with a voice-over by Bush himself on some of the highlights.

Visitors are then presented with a street map of Masterton with the score or so of retail establishments and cultural institutions at which bunches of the same photographs, but much larger, are on display.

These include for example the famed Masterton Art Club (pictured), not usually a repository of the output of working journalists, as well as the valley’s centre of haute coiffure, Maggie B’s, where stylist Courtney Blake (pictured) sets the scene.

The Wairarapa Valley is one of New Zealand’s most storied regions being still populated by the descendants of many of its pioneering families and because of its spectacular north and south access routes, the Rimutaka Pass and the Manawatu Gorge.

Another thread between art and the press. Masterton’s Aratoi Wairarapa Museum of Art & History was the recipient of endowments from National Press Club stalwart the philanthropist and physician the late Dr Ian Prior and his family.

Monday, 08 January 2018 12:16

Media No-Go Zones---Where Angels Fear to Tread

Excerpts from President’s interview with National Press Club associate service MSC Newswire

Where do you see the mainstream media now?
In a rather stronger position than it appears to see itself. There are the revenue shifts in which their giveaway versions are flourishing especially in property advertising. Similarly the broadcasters have a solid localised radio backbone via carrying advertising for patent medicines, directed at those of mature years, their audience base. The radio and giveaway grip on district advertising is notable in rural areas where people are not as internet friendly as those who live in the cities. The mainstream is now reaping the benefit of its own investment in technology and so production costs are falling. Paper and plant is an example in print. Electronics overheads in broadcasting. Both print and broadcasting are at last eliminating news double handling and instead are now belatedly sharing divisional content. This applies to the dailies and their stablemate giveaways exchanging news and also we have now the shared corporate umbrella radio-tv broadcasting simulcasts.

Contrary to the accepted version, few of us in the event learn from experience and the newspaper chains were no exception. The one place newspaper people should not be in advancing their cause is in front of constituted authority, especially in something such as combining forces. They pleaded with commissions and courts to no avail. You will now find them more sensibly encouraging management buy-outs, and they have already had at least one success here. Under this operational, rather than judicial, approach they control central shared services in terms of production, procurement, and sales, and also distribution.

More significantly, and this is the important element in all this, I keep getting this strong impression that still nothing actually happens until it is picked up by the mainstream media. Here now is an example.

The major non mainstream news pipeline here now is not as many people believed the bloggers and web site operators. In the event it is the Taxpayers Union watchdog lobby which sends its disclosures out by email, a modern metaphor for a newspaper arriving on your doorstep. It was the Taxpayers that revealed how the government had donated to Saudi Arabia an entire agri stock handling depot.

My interest was pricked because one of our speakers, the Reagan era National Security Adviser Richard Allen, had declared that Saudi Arabia was “totally corrupt” and should be “invaded.” I had observed also that the journalists present ignored these comments, even though they had the speaker’s speech notes.

A similar silence followed the stock handling depot donation revelation.

The Taxpayers though hammered away with stories sprouting from their original break. Eventually the mainstream had to take it up. The point being that only then did the story take legs. They were, and still are, wobbly ones. But only through the mainstream could the episode, Byzantine as it is, enter the wider shared public consciousness and thus generate the imperative for those responsible to try to explain how the New Zealand funded process works had materialised in the desert.

There are a number of curious media no-go zones. These should now be filled, if only to focus community cohesion on the local dailies as problem solvers.

For some reason the dog problem is one such zone. The noisy motorbike problem, another standover matter, and in clear defiance of the law, is another.

Is the mainstream media collectively liberal-left in its attitude?
. The liberal-left leaning of the working journalists was once counterbalanced by the equally strong conservatism of the management-proprietor class. So you had a balance. Today the mainstream is neither right nor left. It is neither liberal nor conservative. The dominant ideology today is political correctness. This is co-equally held by the operations people and the management people. This last do so out of fear of being seen not to embrace it.

How would you say that this ideology manifests itself?
It rests on displaying an exaggerated ultra politeness by bestowing it upon any category that at any time might have been considered to have been officially discriminated against, anywhere, and not just a minority, and not just the materially-deprived. It is transmitted via constant lightly coded call signs signalling that the media person is on the side of the angels. A broadcasting example is in Kauri trees pronounced as “Cody” trees and the place name Keri Keri delivered as “Kiddy Kiddy.”

I knew the broadcaster Bill Keri Keri, the leading Maori language exponent of his day. An exceptionally courteous person he never assumed that anyone knew who he was. So he always re-introduced himself. I can never recall him describing himself as Bill Kiddy Kiddy.

I should attribute the extreme politeness definition, the bit which requires this tip-toeing around growing chunks of human activity, to Paul Johnson who delivered it to us presciently at the outset of the syndrome.

The point being made here is that such a strong and tendentious filter is being brandished by practitioners who describe themselves as belonging to what they rate as profession.

One which is obliged to cover people and events without fear or favour.

Talking of angels, the National Press Club has involved itself too with some villains – Kurt Waldheim….David Irving?
Kurt Waldheim was platformed while he was secretary general of United Nations. It was not generally known at this time, certainly not here, that he had benefitted from a general post war whitewash, a still unacknowledged official cover up, of Austria’s whole involvement in the war and especially so in the matter of its war criminals. It was only Waldheim’s unstoppable seeking of high office that meant that his participation in atrocities eventually was revealed.

David Irving, who had visited New Zealand before, became an unavoidable international newsmaker after his failed libel case in London, now the subject of the wide-screen film Denial. In the event he was prevented from embarking to New Zealand so the issue became moot.

A National Press Club must confront controversy rather than sidestep it and do so in order to obtain ironically enough an unmediated, direct, account of why beliefs are held and actions taken. Ideally from those who have stood at the cross roads of history. In our case from Chaim Herzog, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, Lee Kuan Yew, Oliver Tambo, the Dalai Lama among many others.


Friday, 03 March 2017 15:34

Don Brash to take Hobson's Pledge
into General Election---says
Ordinary People Fear Speaking  Out
on accelerating Separatism

MSC Newswire - National Press Club service - Napier, Friday 3 March 2017  |  Nobody today in so many different roles and for quite so long has stood at the centre of public life so enduringly as Don Brash. Economist, businessman, banker, politician, the former Governor of the Reserve Bank and leader of the National Party has defied typecasting. At one and the same time severe yet extravagant, austere yet colourful, scholarly yet populist, he has contrived always to reconfigure himself around the times. Now he has stridently intervened in institutionally-fuelled separatism. Shrouded in a protective veneer of high-minded fashionable purpose that makes ordinary people fearful to question it, Dr Brash vehemently, unequivocally declares the voguish syndrome as ultimately destined to tear the nation apart......

You are often considered to be at heart primarily concerned with matters economic and their corresponding data. Yet here you are now immersing yourself in what many might consider a socio-ethical issue?

Yes, most of my career has been about monetary policy, banking, and economic issues more generally. But my interest in economics has always been because of my interest in the well-being of society more generally. I have long felt, for example, that it will be difficult or impossible to maintain a broadly egalitarian society in New Zealand – the kind of society in which I was brought up – if average living standards fall too far below those in Australia because of the ease with which skilled New Zealanders can cross the Tasman for very much higher incomes in Sydney or Melbourne.

If we want the kind of healthcare which those in advanced developed countries take for granted, we have to have the living standards to support that healthcare. A few years ago, there was a big debate about whether Pharmac should subsidize the provision of Herceptin for the treatment of certain kinds of breast cancer, and it was noted that Australia did so. The fact of the matter was that at that time virtually all the countries which subsidized access to Herceptin had higher living standards than New Zealand did; those which did not provide a subsidy, had lower living standards – we were right on the cusp. For me, interest in economics has always been about the implications of economic policy for the well-being of society.

Hence, I was strongly opposed to inflation in part at least because of the totally capricious effects which inflation has on wealth distribution – those who save in fixed interest instruments being thoroughly gutted by inflation, while those who borrow heavily to invest in, say, property, make huge and totally untaxed gains with little or no effort. That has always seemed to me to be grossly unjust.

Will the Hobson’s Pledge Movement become a force in the pending general election?
I certainly hope so. I find it very depressing that the National Party has moved such a long way from its roots in this policy area. In 2002, Bill English gave a lengthy and very thoughtful speech, demonstrating clearly that Maori chiefs had ceded sovereignty in signing the Treaty and arguing that the only way for a peaceful future for New Zealand was a “single standard of citizenship for all”.

In May 2003, he pledged that a future National Government would scrap separate Maori electorates, as the Royal Commission on the Electoral System had recommended in the late eighties if MMP were adopted. I made similar commitments when I was Leader of the National Party, as did John Key in the election campaign of 2008. And yet we’ve seen the National-led Government retreat a very long way from that position.

I applaud the fact that the current Government has accelerated the resolution of historical grievances, but utterly deplore the fact that too often resolution has involved not just financial redress but also “co-governance”.

We see the proposed amendment to the RMA requiring all local councils to invite their local tribes into so-called “iwi participation agreements”, involving co-governance on a grand scale. We saw the legislation establishing the Auckland super-city requiring an Independent Maori Statutory Board, with the Auckland Council giving members of that unelected Board voting rights on most Auckland Council committees.

We see the Government negotiating behind closed doors with the so-called Iwi Leaders Group to give tribes some form of special influence over the allocation of water, despite pretending to believe that “nobody owns water”. We see a proposal to make half the members of the Hauraki Gulf Forum tribal appointees.

The myth that the Treaty of Waitangi created some kind of “partnership” between Maori on the one hand (or more accurately, those who can claim at least one Maori ancestor, always now along with ancestors of other ethnicities) and the rest of us on the other is increasingly accepted as Holy Writ, subscribing to which is becoming essential for many positions in the public sector.

So I’m very much hoping that Hobson’s Pledge can help to substantially reverse this highly undemocratic drift after the next election.

You say that the National government is “pandering” to “separatist demands.” Which of these demands do you consider the most dangerous?

Where do I start? I’ve just listed some of the specific policies which are totally inconsistent with any reasonable definition of democracy. Most of those specific policies stem from the underlying myth that the Treaty established some kind of “partnership” between those with a Maori ancestor and those of us without, as I’ve just mentioned. But as David Lange said in the Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture in 2000, “the Court of Appeal once, absurdly, described [the Treaty] as a partnership between races, but it obviously is not. The Treaty itself contains no principles which can usefully guide government or courts.... To go further than that is to acknowledge the existence of undemocratic forms of rights, entitlements, or sovereignty.”

All the specific examples I gave in answer to the previous question stem from the underlying nonsense that there are two (and only two!) distinct groups of New Zealanders, those with preferential constitutional rights and those without them. This is leading New Zealand to disaster with a whole generation of part-Maori believing that they really do have superior constitutional rights to the rest of us.

To what degree would you ascribe this separatist development agitation as being primarily a project of the political class from whatever background?

Certainly, I think what you call the “political class” is the main driver of this separatist agitation, together with arguably most of the educational establishment, where adherence to so-called “Treaty principles” seems to be an absolute prerequisite for appointment to any teaching or leadership position.

The same is true in the public healthcare sector. But there is plenty of evidence that large numbers of the “general public” do not support the separatist agenda but are literally cowed into silence on the issue.

I regularly get people sidle up to me in the street and, after looking furtively up and down the street lest they are recognized by friends or acquaintances, tell me that they strongly agree with me. One university professor did this recently, but swore me not to mention his name or university department. And some of these people are Maori.

Of course, Hobson’s Pledge has two official spokespeople, one of whom is me and the other is Casey Costello, a woman of Ngapuhi and Anglo-Irish ancestry. But two of our very strongest supporters (though not members of our council) are Maori – one a prominent member of the Ngapuhi tribe and the other Ngati Porou.

The latter was a member of our council when we first established Hobson’s Pledge but, because he is closely associated with a political party, withdrew lest his membership of Hobson’s Pledge raise a question about whether we are a front for the political party he is closely associated with.

He resents the separatist agenda because he believes strongly that it is patronizing, implying that Maori aren’t quite good enough to make it successfully without these constitutional preferences.

Bearing in mind your underpinning career in banking, economics and looking now at the broader picture: where is the country now in your view in terms of nuts and bolts things such as balance of payments and foreign debt?

Compared with some other countries, we are in a good spot, with the economy growing, unemployment fairly low and government debt modest relative to GDP. Our banking sector is in reasonable shape. Even the extent of the country’s (public and private sector) total net external indebtedness is somewhat better than it was a decade ago, though still high by developed country standards.

But there are significant problems just below the surface of that apparently rosy picture. Yes, the economy is growing, but that is largely because the number of people in the workforce is growing strongly because of a high level of net immigration: productivity, and thus per capita income, is growing very slowly indeed, and the Government’s initial objective of closing the income gap with Australia by 2025 is not only not going to be achieved, the gap hasn’t reduced materially over the last eight years.

The ratio of government debt to GDP is modest by the standards of many other developed countries, but the Key Government did absolutely nothing to prepare the population for the need to adjust, for example, the age of eligibility for New Zealand Superannuation if government debt is not to explode, relative to GDP, over the next few decades. (Mr English, to his credit, has refused to renew Mr Key’s pledge on this issue.)

And while the country’s net external indebtedness, relative to GDP, has improved somewhat in recent years, that external indebtedness remains at a high level, the consequence of New Zealand’s running a current account balance of payments deficit every year since 1974. Much of that deficit has been funded by banks borrowing on the international markets to fund the explosion of private sector housing debt, the result in turn of another serious policy failing, the failure to deal with the enormous increase in the price of housing (or more accurately, of residential land).


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