Hopefully the absurdly contradictory opinion polls featured on TV 1 and TV 3 Sunday night, will result in the public switching off both the pollsters and those few political journalists obsessed with them. The recent Australian experience where the polls failed to predict the Morrison Government victory, should cause everyone to discount this meaningless poll driven journalistic frenzy.
A few years ago I heard a World Bank Economist William Easterley, at a Wellington venue, saying life is about incentives, the rest is commentary. For some political journalists, clearly their well being will be enhanced by as much political instability as possible, because that’s what creates their news opportunities and job security. Leadership challenges whether real or imaginary are wonderful fodder for creative minds.
One TV journalist seems to think its her role to topple the National leader Simon Bridges. As everyone knows being leader of the opposition is seriously tough – I worked as press secretary for the late Bill Rowling. During that time there was significant, but less fevered speculation, about his tenure on the office, which he held until David Lange took over several years later.
I am interested in public policy which requires hard work. I read we are to spend $1.9 billion on mental health services over four years. Where is the report saying how much more that it is compared with the last four years, exactly how will the money be spent, and how will we know whether it achieves the sought goal?
There are a few journalists who do credible public policy work. They include Hamish Rutherford, Pattrick Smellie, Fran O’Sullivan, Brian Fallow, Liam Dann and Simon Collins. However most of what comes out Parliament is about the “Game of Politics”, not news and analysis of real public policy issues.
I accept the Game of Politics is legitimate territory but the balance between that, the serious business of Government is hopelessly out of balance. I would like to see a halving of coverage of the Game and a quadrupling of national affairs and public policy writing. The future of our democracy depends on an informed electorate. The mass media, which I well know is struggling financially, is presently falling well short.