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MediaOctober 24, 2017

A brief journey through the bad Australian takes on the NZ election


Another gold medal for the green-and-gold in the contest for the worst media opinions on New Zealand’s electoral outcome. Toby Manhire reads them so you don’t have to.

The latest addition to the pantheon of Bad Takes In The International Media On The New Zealand Election comes from USA Today. In a post explaining how “Trump-like leaders proliferate” around the world, it tables as evidence one Jacinda Ardern, of New Zealand.

The evidence for Ardern’s Trumpiness amounts to a solitary tweet from the Wall Street Journal that read, “Meet New Zealand’s Justin Trudeau (prime minister of Canada) — except she’s more like Trump on immigration.”

Bad take, USA Today.

For the most part, however, the field has been dominated by Australia.

Rupert Murdoch’s beloved national broadsheet, The Australian, devoted the front page to the New Zealand outcome on Friday. The newspaper put an L-shaped hand to its forehead and gasped, “NZ shock: Losers take power”.

A commentary from Greg Sheridan, headlined “Vanilla election ends with bitter aftertaste”, was equally displeased. The paper’s foreign editor wrote: “The rise of celebrity politicians, the fall of good governments, the terror of the populists – in its mild, vanilla way, this weird New Zealand election outcome has it all.”

Too boring and too dramatic all at the same time. Tough crowd.

The Oz and Sheridan were disappointed in New Zealand, both for a system that elected losers and for throwing away stability.

“Trust the Kiwis. The thought of perhaps 10 years of good government was ultimately unbearable for them,” lamented Sheridan, the blood trickling from his eyes.

The struggle to grasp the design of MMP is understandable – there’s been plenty of that in New Zealand, too. But it seems especially weird coming from a country where the government is literally called “the Coalition”, and the single party with the highest number of seats, Labor, is in opposition. (Don’t @ me on the history of the Lib-Nat alliance.)

And on the stability question? We can live without lectures from a country that changes prime minister faster than Tony Abbott gets into his budgie smugglers.

The Australian Financial Review had a bad take, too, at least in the headline:

After all, if Peters is the Brexit, then we’re exiting Brexitism: NZ First polled almost 20% lower this time than last. It’s like a Brexitexit. (The piece itself was sound.)

Not to be outdone, the preeminent bad take factory, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, chimed in. Columnist Piers Ackerman took a break from bashing gay marriage and immigrants to lampoon the “laughing stock” that New Zealand had become. “Don’t let political correctness stop you from laughing at the latest Kiwi joke — New Zealand’s new Labour government,” he snorted. “And surely it cannot be misogynist to question the skills of the new Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, the 37-year-old neophyte who now joins the ranks of other weird gen Xers, French President Emanuel Macron, 39, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, 45, as a populist novice leader.”

What Piers is trying to say is: “Call me politically correct, call me misogynist, call me anything, just for the love of god someone call me.”

Other choice Ackermanian cuts: “She has reached the heights through the bizarre alchemy of her country’s MMP”; NZ First and the Greens are “two piddling protest parties”; English “was clearly not prepared to compromise the National Party’s record of good stewardship to accommodate the glory-seeking Peters”; Ardern “has happily gone along with the ratbag Left-wing radicals to grab power”; “Australia will gain from an influx of savvy Kiwis who will demonstrate that they are not as flightless as their avian namesakes”; “dole-bludging Kiwis can be expected to leave Australia to take advantage of the Ardern promise to restore a loafers’ paradise”; “NZ’s sheep population and to a lesser extent its cattle will find themselves the uncomfortable butt of even more fart jokes as the NZ power troika move relentlessly toward Labour’s target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050”; random reference to New Zealand “supporting a large population of Pacific Islanders”.

(Although to give him credit Ackerman did successfully dupe me by asserting that New Zealanders call the Tasman Sea the “Dutch”, which I denounced as an idiotic confusion based on Abel Tasman’s nationality until a colleague gently pointed out that it was a dig at the Kiwi accent.)

The Australian wasn’t taking this challenge to its worst-take crown lying down, however, and swiftly responded with this:

And this:

Aaaaand this:

Thank you, Australia! We can delight in your bad-taking, sigh smugly at your antediluvian attitudes, snark at your –



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