Ponsonby News October Column

As the final results of the local elections are confirmed, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to all the successful candidates that will be representing our communities across the Auckland Region.

This year's local elections have been significant and I look forward to engaging with all the new councillors, board members and other elected officials at one of our many exciting cultural festivals like Diwali and Christmas functions (I can't believe it's already October!) over the next few weeks.

As a National List MP based in Auckland I look forward to working with our local government representatives to build a more liveable city and support key local infrastructure from better housing and roads to better community services so that everyone can benefit from this special part of New Zealand. In particular, I was really excited to hear new Mayor of Auckland Wayne Brown call on telecommunications providers and the Government to do more to bring better digital connectivity to everyone across the Auckland region.

I've visited areas from the heart of our city to the rural outskirts with issues ranging, from network congestion and poor broadband to accessibility issues for our older and more vulnerable New Zealanders. It's time this is urgently addressed for the future of our digital nation and the opportunities that the digital economy can provide everyone in education, careers and lifestyle. No one should be left behind.

Back down at parliament I've been challenging the minister on the government's ridiculous plans over the future of New Zealand's media landscape. His $370million in wasteful spending during a cost of living crisis is baffling and won't provide further plurality or benefits to New Zealand media audiences.

Last month, the Broadcasting Minister Willie Jackson came before the EDSI Committee to outline his reasoning for the Aotearoa/ New Zealand Public Media Bill. In short, what he did instead was criticize TVNZ for not being on board with his bizarre plans to spend $370million.

As a result, during the last sitting block I put questions to the minister directly in the House and his answers have to be seen to be believed: Question Time 27 September 2022 https://vimeo.com/754099410 Question Time 28 September 2022 https://vimeo.com/754531827 Question Time 29 September 2022- https://ondemand.

parliament.nz/parliament-tv-on-demand/?itemId=228628 During Select Committee hearings over the last few weeks - from big to small - we've heard serious concerns about the minister's plans. The committee received more than 900 submissions on the minister's plans with many expressing serious concerns over his proposals. Many are concerned at the impact the new public media entity monolith may have on the future of commercial media in our country. Many also have expressed dismay at the thought of hundreds of millions being spent to establish this new entity and then to keep it afloat for the years ahead without value to the taxpayer. This massive cost could instead clear the cancer patient waiting list, fund desperately needed medications with more left over to tackle the worst surgical wait list in the past decade affecting tens of thousands of New Zealanders in need.

I encourage you to listen to what the submitters had to say and you can watch the proceedings on the Economic Development Science and Innovation Committee Facebook Page www.

facebook.com/EDSISCNZ In the words of Dr Gavin Ellis and Sir Peter Gluckman, the merger legislation "is so incomplete and raises so many issues that it would be unsafe to enact it in its present form". I believe it is vital the minister understands these plans are simply not fit for purpose and he needs to go back to the drawing board. RNZ and TVNZ, are cherished institutions for many New Zealanders. They both have some faults that need to be addressed but the solution is not throwing good money after bad while debt borrowing levels continue to rise in our country.

The future of New Zealand's media landscape is being put at severe risk by the minister's plans because they will reduce plurality in the market. New Zealand On Air have confirmed they'll be handing over a lion's share of their funding to the new entity taking away contestability to other platforms across New Zealand.

It's time the government took a step back and pauses their plans for the future of the New Zealand media. Who's with me?


Note: This column originally ran in the November edition of Ponsonby News on 31 October 2022