If you want examples of how spin and counter offensive are used to cover-up bad news in New Zealand you don’t have to look far.
You could choose to examine the way the report into poor quality early years child care was handled, or you could turn your attention to the way investigative journalists have their homes searched. You could ponder on why academics have their research censored and told they should be locked up for blowing the whistle about pollution. You could think about the way publicity about possible 1080 contamination of milk was timed to deflect attention away from a prominent MP appearing in court. You could even muse over how the 100% Pure brand image is used to mis-sell the country.
But perhaps the most obvious example is the current war waged against the people who exposed extreme cruelty in the New Zealand dairy industry. This is a country where 2 million new born calves a year are treated like waste products, left in tiny cages at the farm gate hours after they’re born to be collected by men who throw them like sacks into a truck.
What happens Nz’s dairy calves when they get to the pet food abattoir is deeply disturbing. It was exposed in a secret video filmed by SAFE and Farmwatch NZ and shown to the world. Every glass of milk from New Zealand is stained by animal cruelty and, to put it simply, this has got to stop…
The people who made the secret video have made good on their promise to take their campaign global and have placed adverts in British newspapers – gateway to the lucrative European Community’s economic market. They know from experience that the way to change things in New Zealand isn’t to just complain to the regulators, or the police, or the government.
Real change in New Zealand is brought about by shinning the light of international attention on a problem until the embarrassment is causes makes a difference – much as the overseas campaign by the families of bereaved tourists brought about safety controls in the NZ adventure tourism industry.
Read any current NZ media report about the Contaminated with Cruelty campaign and you’ll see statements like “the dairy industry is worth $9 billion to the NZ economy” disappointment that the “whole industry has been tarred with the same brush” that it is the behaviour of a “very small minority“, talk of the campaign being “un-patriotic” or trying to “harm the industry” – all spin and deflection from the real issue at hand and easier than sorting out the problem: the mis- treatment of calves within the NZ dairy industry is barbaric, ‘third world’ even. To change it means accepting a loss in profitability and changing a practice that has been going on since the days when NZ was first colonised by European farmers.
What has come through loud and clear this week is that most people understand that this is a very small minority and that bobby calves are a reality of dairy farming
The industry is running scared because it knows poor treatment of calves is endemic all over New Zealand, and doesn’t see a way to stop it. People don’t know any different.
To euthanise calves humanely on the farm (as they do in Europe) requires the use of a gun. Bullets cost money. Raising a male calf to produce beef is an investment that literally eats into the profits of an industry that’s worth $9 billion to the NZ economy. The same industry already uses a third of the world’s palm oil expeller to feed “grass fed” cows on its “overstocked” dairy farms.
TL;DR Spin and deflection is used because it takes attention away from the real issue at hand – the treatment of calves within the NZ dairy industry is barbaric and to change it means accepting a loss in profitability. The industry is scared international publicity will affect its bottom line because it knows poor treatment of calves is endemic, and doesn’t see a way to control it. Far better from their perspective to use spin to cover it up, and continue business as usual
Have you seen an example of how spin and counter offensive are used to avoid action in NZ? let us know.
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