Case Number: 3085

Council Meeting: AUGUST 2021

Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: New Zealand Herald

Ruling Categories: Accuracy
Balance, Lack Of
Comment and Fact
Headlines and Captions
Unfair Coverage


Judy Sherriff complained about an article published in the New Zealand Herald on 17 July, 2021 under the headingJack Tame: Protesting farmers are hypocrites – but so am I. This was an opinion piece which referred to the farmers’ protest on a variety of issues including freshwater regulations, a ute tax, emission reductions and other issues where they feel they are being subjected to special treatment of the worst kind.

The writer went on to ask if those farmers felt the same way when their industry received the best part of a billion dollars in support for Mycoplasma Bovis, hundreds of millions for irrigation subsidies, drought relief, flood relief or Covid-19 wage support.

The complainant contested these statements saying no farmer received support for MBovis, only compensation for animal slaughter and that all farmers pay a biosecurity fee to cover it. Drought relief is not given to farmers but to a support agency to give advice and no money was given for feed for animals, she said.

She maintained the article breached Media Council principles relating to accuracy, fairness and balance; comment and fact; headlines and captions; and discrimination and diversity.

There is no evidence to show statements in the article were misleading or false. The article mentions that farmers and the farming industry get help from the Government on occasions and the examples given in the article are not demonstrably wrong.

The tenor of the article is not unfair to farmers. Rather it is a commentary on how complex issues can be.

There are insufficient grounds for the complaint to proceed.