Many voters are "not only venal, but ignorant", according to former National Party leader Don Brash.
The former Reserve Bank Governor made the remark at Act's annual conference at the weekend in his capacity as chairman of the 2025 Taskforce charged with finding ways to close the income gap with Australia.
Dr Brash said difficult decisions needed to be made by this country's politicians. Making them would be made more difficult by lack of understanding on the part of the public and many in the news media on what needed to be done.
He warned that New Zealand was on an "unsustainable fiscal track" with regard to Government spending which would require " the slaughter of some holy cows".
That would have to be done in the context of many voters being venal and ignorant. The latter was the result of the "failure of teachers to teach and politicians to explain some of the basic facts of life".
"Note the near total failure of the public to see any connection between the sudden requirement by the Labour Government in 2008 that employers would have to pay the same amount to someone coming out of high school at 16 as they paid to an adult, and, the resulting very sharp increase in youth unemployment.
"Most of the public simply don't get it. And this ignorance often appears to be actively fostered by the grossly superficial and sometimes totally misleading so-called news on state television."
Dr Brash cited coverage of National's legislation allowing employers a 90-day probation period for new workers. He said One News interviewed an autistic man who had said finding a job would be even harder for him now because of the law change.
"Not only was that not quite right, it was the very reverse of the truth."