PETE BRODRICK AGAINST THE DOMINION POST / STUFF

Case Number: 3170

Council Meeting: DECEMBER 2021

Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: The Dominion Post

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

Overview

CASE NO: 3170

RULING BY THE NEW ZEALAND MEDIA COUNCIL ON THE COMPLAINT OF PETE BRODRICK AGAINST THE DOMINION POST/STUFF

FINDING: INSUFFICIENT GROUNDS TO PROCEED

DATE: DECEMBER 2021

 

This complaint related to reporting of newly elected National Party leader Christopher Luxon’s property portfolio.

On December 2, 2021, Stuff and The Dominion Post ran an article headlined Christopher Luxon's property gains soar as National promises to tackle housing crisis.

The story reported he owned a family home in Remuera, a Waiheke Island bach, an apartment in Wellington, his electoral office and three investment properties in Onehunga with a combined value of $21.145 million.

It also reported their value on paper has increased by $4.3m since the start of this year – and by $3m since June alone – and that most of those gains, if realised, would be untaxed.

Pete Brodrick complained that the reporting of Mr Luxon’s capital gains was an attempt to discredit him and his party. This was not democratic and was an attempt to cut him down in support of the current Government.  Mr Luxon was not the only person in New Zealand to have benefitted from housing increases. He asked what justification there was for publishing this information on him.  He said:

“The media are dividing and ruining this country – the writers of this article should be ashamed of themselves…

It was an unjust and unfair targeting of an individual in the public eye. This could influence voters and destroy “the little democracy we have left.”

The Media Council finds that the reporting article did not breach the principle relating to accuracy, fairness and balance or the principle relating to headlines and captions.

There is no evidence that the information printed was inaccurate or that Mr Luxon was unfairly targeted. Every year parliamentarians are required to disclose their personal and financial interests. The register of these interest was set up to provide transparency of MPs’ interests and strengthen public trust and confidence in parliamentary processes and decision making.

MPs’ declarations of interest are a matter of legitimate public interest. It is not surprising that those with the most to declare and those with the highest positions of responsibility attract the most media and public interest.

Reporting of publicly available information about politicians’ personal interests is to be expected and is a mark of a democratic society. The media which report such information cannot be accused of “dividing and ruining the country” or destroying our democracy.

There were insufficient grounds to proceed.

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