Gerry Brownlee’s secret outing
"Good on NBR for reporting this news. The people need to know the truth without all the smoke screens that the politicians throw into the mix."Featured comment
Oh dear. Gerry Brownlee’s got the pip.
Specifically, the earthquake recovery minister says NBR ONLINE is “persona non grata for quake recovery”, according to email traffic from his spin doctor Nick Bryant, just released under the Official Information Act.
On July 30, NBR’s veteran Christchurch-based reporter Chris Hutching showed what journalism is about by reporting on the government’s Christchurch rebuild plan a full 43 minutes ahead of an infotainment PR stunt shamelessly orchestrated for the 6pm television news.
Prime TV followed Mr Hutching’s example by running the story in its 5.30pm bulletin.
An explosion of spin doctor outrage followed, culminating in a formal complaint to Mr Brownlee by business journalist Bernard Hickey.
Mr Hickey asked “what sanctions will be applied government-wide to the NBR?”
“I would expect they would be banned from Budget and RBNZ lockups in future, given their open contempt for an agreement that other media have agreed to,” Mr Hickey complained.
At the time Mr Hickey was decent enough to forward a copy of his complaint, but declined to send the reply, saying it was “for my eyes only and I’m uncomfortable forwarding it on”.
An OIA request finally elicited this week the reply to Mr Hickey from Mr Brownlee’s Mr Bryant.
Here’s what Mr Bryant wrote:
We’d already resolved that they’re persona non grata for quake recovery, but I’ve also noted your tweets and will raise your suggestions with Ministers.
Suffice to say I’m extremely disappointed, but also very grateful to everyone else who respected the embargo.
The OIA response was sent by Gemma Stevenson, Mr Brownlee’s “ministerial correspondence co-ordinator for Canterbury earthquake recovery”.
NBR stands by its reporting of the government’s Christchurch rebuild plan.
While supporting embargoes for the Budget and similar market-moving briefings, the Christchurch briefing was an abuse of the embargo convention, according to Mr Hutching – who has not suffered a jot from Gerry’s sulks.