Taurima’s employment law defence
Here's guessing at Shane Taurima's personal grievance strategy when he's had time to calculate.
He and his colleagues may have grounds to claim to the just announced enquiry, that they thought the employer had acquiesced in their activism, or tacitly approved it. In other words they were simply getting with the programme.
Employment Courts often over-ride terms of employment contracts and express workplace rules, if they've been ignored in practice.
State broadcasters work in a milieu of implicit support for the left, and barely suppressed contempt for and suspicion of others. Maori in State broadcasting have been allowed for decades to act as if they've had an exemption from Broadcasting Standards requirements for balance. They've almost universally acted on a right to promote "Maori aspirations" (often equated to the Maori Party), to call the 'race card' on anyone who questions those "aspirations" irrespective of the legal orthodoxy of the question or challenge.
I've praised their practical exemption in posts on this blog, here and here because it has freed them from some of the self-censorship of political correctness. Unrelenting reflex hostility to National and favouritism to the left seemed a small price to pay for their fresh air. So I appeared many times with Willie Jackson. I loved the regional Maori radio host with a nice touch in irony who told his audience "Hey listen up you horis – I've got an ACT MP to educate yous" then would not go back to music for over 20 minutes, even when I said on air that the audience must have evaporated.
It would not take much diligence to find plenty of examples of decades long practice from which Maori broadcasters might assume that the obligations of objectivity and political neutrality were waived for them.
Stephen Franks is principal of Wellington commercial and public law firm Franks and Ogilvie.