In Newstalk ZB's television advert, Mike Hosking breathlessly exclaims, "we keep pushing, asking the hard questions seeking clarity and ultimately resolution. We never sleep because your conversations never do, so if you want to be in the know, join us in the now". How then does he reconcile such highfalutin claims with a disgraceful piece of writing he penned in the Herald on August 13: Misery peddlers are milking a crisis?
It is the clearest sign yet that Mr Hosking is a National Party stooge. So much so, his show should be counted against National's electoral advertising.
Mr Hosking has the temerity to believe that he knows more about what's happening down on the farm than the elected Member of Parliament of a dairy farming electorate, who comes off a dairy farm and knows the difference between a cow and a bull? What is Mr Hosking's farming experience, his local organic supermarket?
Unlike this well-paid mouthpiece farmers know our dairy industry is going through the floor. These are not my words but a Farmers Weekly commentator who further adds, "timber is having major issues, lamb and wool are suffering and Auckland house prices are going ballistic".
So here are some facts Mr Hosking. Not your faux bonhomie but reality.
At the beginning of last season, Fonterra told its farmers to budget on $7.00 a kilogram of milksolids. Since farmers are still awaiting their final payout this has been eroded down to $4.40. At the beginning of this season on May 28, Fonterra told its farmers to budget on $5.25, but a few weeks ago that was revised down to $3.85. New Zealand First believes it will sink to as low as $3.50 and this spill over affects provincial retailers from Kaitaia to Invercargill.
Mr Hosking's Pollyanna world has drawn farmer rebuke. One Sharemilker wrote to him saying, "the tone was patronising. Live a day in our shoes first. I invite Mike [Hosking] to work for a full day before he says it's not a crisis." Mr Hosking won't, he'll send a Seven Sharp reporter instead.
There is also disappointment at Federated Farmers' President, Dr William Rolleston's staunch defence of the foreign-owned banks. One dairy farmer from Otorohanga commenting, "I would have expected a bit better from Federated Farmers than endorsing this."
What is dawning on farmers is that people like Mr Hosking and National are fair weather friends. They talked up dairy in the good times but notice how dairy has been talked down to being only "5 per cent of the economy." A skilled interviewer would point out that since dairy is 20% of exports, we don't have an economy without exports. Dairying matters.
Now tourism, beef and IT are the great white hopes to plug the export gap we foresaw, but what the suits in National, Fonterra and the media did not. On the once strong dollar almost reaching parity with Australia's, here is more Hosking codswallop: "our dollar is more than a currency. It's our fiscal calling card, and at buck for buck it's a platinum card with no limit, accepted wherever we go. It speaks to our reputation our outlook our discipline".
Since then, it has dropped against the Aussie and fallen like a stone against the US dollar.
Mr Hosking's bias is such that after 2014 General Election he delivered this dispassionate assessment of the Prime Minister: "John Key gets it. Most of us are aspirational, most of us see good things when there are good things to see. And most of us want more of where that came from." On the controversial decision to send our men and women into in Iraq, he uncritically described the Prime Minister's decision as "brave and honourable."
And if you are looking for the hard questions and a conversation on the flag you can forget it. His critique of the alternatives was stinging: "I think we can safely say that they're a good bunch by in large and we do not lack for choice". Mr Hosking's jowls are up the Prime Minister's cheeks and the quality of public debate suffers.
So net, nearly 60,000 migrants every year is fine by Mr Hosking because there is no Auckland housing crisis. It does not matter that immigrants do not have to understand English or our values. It does not matter that we have corruption in immigration and state sanctioned corruption at that, where effectively money is the fast track to a New Zealand passport.
In the words of Mr Hosking, these are "happy days."
The Rt Hon Winston Peters is the leader of New Zealand First and the Member of Parliament for Northland
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