Seymour says Helen Clark would have sacked Jackson over interview

December 5, 2022

ACT leader David Seymour says former prime minister Helen Clark would have fired Broadcasting Minister Willie Jackson over his contentious interview with Q + A host Jack Tame if she was in power.

Jackson sparred with Tame over a number of controversial issues surrounding the merger of the two publicly-owned media organisations.

Seymour gave his opinion on the interview to 1News Political Editor Jessica Mutch McKay.

"Helen Clark would have sacked Willie Jackson for attacking the underlying independence of media in New Zealand while positioned as broadcasting minister," he said.

"Clark would not tolerate a broadcasting minister who gave an interview like that, unfortunately Jacinda Ardern is not Helen Clark and has a habit of suffering fools gladly.

"Just look what Trevor Mallard got away with, look what David Clark got away with mountain biking in the middle of a pandemic. Jackson will get away with this too because Ardern is not Helen Clark who would have terminated him within 30 seconds of him finishing that interview."

In a follow-up question Seymour then labelled Jackson a "bumbling buffoon", stating he's "the last thing you need as a broadcasting minister" in the current climate.

Broadcasting Minister's Q+A interview

Speaking to Q + A yesterday, Jackson was questioned at length about the upcoming TVNZ-RNZ merger he's responsible for.

Jackson said there would always be a perception that additional public funding for the media would result in reduced editorial independence.

"We've got that type of complaint - doesn’t matter what we say, it doesn't matter the history we give in terms of funding shows like this, there's one view, 'Oh, this is about Willie Jackson paying off Jack Tame'.

"I get that. But you're never going to change some of those perceptions," he said.

The Broadcasting Minister said trust in the entity would grow over time - when asked whether putting $109 million towards the merged organisation would foster distrust.

"It'll improve public trust because they will see a better product," he opined.

"But sometimes it takes a while to get that trust."

When pressed on details of public trust in the new entity, Jackson defended the Government's plans by saying the majority of submitters supported a new entity.

"Listen to what the submitters say in terms of the select committee. 60% to 70% of the submitters support the entity. They want a few changes, particularly around the editorial side," he said.

"Sadly, you're doing such a negative interview today - I'm very disappointed in you. But you're hammering every part of this entity that's all about our public identity. It's about expression in terms of the New Zealand voice. Don't you want to hear that?"

National's broadcasting spokesperson, Melissa Lee, has expressed concerns over editorial independence and the overall case for a merged entity.

The party has said it will reverse the TVNZ-RNZ merger if brought to power in next year's general election.