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News Worthy: By Richard Worth

Forty-two Spin Doctors in the Beehive

Murray McCully the National MP for East Coast Bay has carried out a tally of the press secretaries who work for the Government and has noted a head count of 42.

A total of 33 press secretaries work directly for individual Ministers. The Prime Minister herself has three. Two more are employed in the almost redundant Burns Unit and seven more are listed in the Ministerial Services Media Unit.

The phrase “spin doctors” is relatively new and is American in origin. We are absolutely dependent on the integrity of the media to unmask such spin. The latest illustration of spin is well illustrated by the Government spending $20 million of taxpayer money to sell the Budget. That exercise has been pure propaganda under a banner headline “you are better off with Labour”.

Eastern corridor
National is committed to the completion of the strategic roading network in Auckland. Clearly there is real debate as to what in fact is strategic and what is not. The balance of opinion seems to be that the eastern corridor fails to make the cut. It is not scheduled as a Transit state highway project.

No one doubts the cost of congestion. On 25 August 2004 the Allen Consulting Group in association with Infometrics Ltd published its findings on the economic effect of completing four specific roading programmes by 2012.

The eastern corridor does not figure in the study. The Auckland western ring route which involves the completion of state highways 18 and 20 from Manukau through Mt Roskill and Avondale to reconnect with state highway 1 south of Albany has a capital cost of $1.29 billion and an estimated rate of return on capital of 23%..

Our relationship with Australia
Allan Hawke is the High Commissioner for Australia in New Zealand. He is a highly articulate and intelligent commentator. He says (and I agree) that “the ANZAC relationship is finely poised on the fulcrum. It can go one way or the other – in Defence and trade in every way.”

We take the relationship for granted but we do so at considerable risk. New Zealand has been a bigger beneficiary of growth in trans-Tasman trade than Australia.

We need to remember Paul Keating’s remark as he went around Australia that every time Japan GDP grew by 1% that equated to the whole of New Zealand’s GDP. In other words, why bother with the New Zealand market when there are greater gains to be made in other places.

Double standards in the debating chamber
There is a current debate in Parliament as to whether National is making the correct decision that Don Brash spend the bulk of his time touring the regions. Quite clearly the Party needs to pick up its party vote in provincial New Zealand. Don is being invited to speak up to four different groups of 300-400 people each a day and the plan is for him to continue to do so.

What the Government MPs overlook is that Helen Clark when she was the Opposition leader in 1998 did exactly the same.

Political Quote of the Week
"Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake." Napoleon Bonaparte

Richard Worth

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