Peter Williams is the host of Magic Talk Mornings, weekdays 9 am -midday.
OPINION: I know that on my radio show we sometimes upset and offend people. In return, I cop quite a few insults as well. I’m not bothered. It’s called freedom of expression. That’s one of the privileges we get living in a country like New Zealand. We are free to think and discuss pretty much what we want.
So on Thursday morning, when I was having my weekly appointment with deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson, this exchange happened.
PW: Grant, what’s your understanding of the phrase – the movement – called “the Great Reset”, and is New Zealand going to be part of it?
GR: Well, Peter, I think it’s actually absurd that you raise that on the programme today. My understanding – which I’ve only recently read about this – is this is a giant conspiracy theory.
PW: Well, it’s put about by the World Economic Forum isn’t it?
GR: No, it’s a giant conspiracy theory that’s got no credit whatsoever. The talk of resets – and I’m doing a conference organised by the Chartered Accountants Association of Australia New Zealand shortly – is a reference to the fact that we’ve had a massive global economic shock and there is an opportunity and a challenge there to reset the economy, so that we’re able to meet the big challenges of the 21st century. Klaus Schwab and the World Economic Forum may have used that phrase at some point but there is absolutely no foundation to the conspiracy theory that there is something called “the Great Reset” that countries around the world are indulging in.
PW: So this presentation you’re doing with Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand in a couple of weeks which is called, I note, “Ready to Reset”, that’s got nothing to do with what the WEF is saying?
GR: Just think about how absurd that sounds, Peter.
That interview with the deputy prime minister was on Thursday morning, just before 10.30. A few hours later at 4:10 pm, we get an email from Grant Robertson’s office, written by his senior press secretary Chris Bramwell, saying the following:
“I’m sorry to do this, but we will have to pull out of the Minister’s weekly slot on your programme. Having him shoot down conspiracy theories on air is not really a constructive use of his time. Thanks for being so good to deal with over the past year or so.”
So that’s that. A couple of questions about the World Economic Forum’s so-called “Great Reset” and the Deputy Prime Minister throws his toys out of the cot. What exactly is his problem?
It’s not as if the Great Reset doesn’t exist. There are websites, videos and a book written about it. It’s not a conspiracy theory. Klaus Schwab of the WEF uses the phrase regularly. And New Zealand is involved at the WEF.
Only two years ago, January 2019, Jacinda Ardern was centre stage in Davos as part of a panel discussion, expounding on the projected glories of the then-upcoming “Wellbeing Budget.”
Then last year, Grant Robertson – in a speech to Business New Zealand on April 15 – said the following:
“We must also take this opportunity to reset our economy, to take account of the massive disruption to some sectors but also to address some of the long-standing challenges we face. In doing so we must also chart a course to return to a sustainable fiscal position.”
That was 10 months ago. His words: “We must also take this opportunity to reset our economy.”
Then in two weeks, on March 5th, he’s scheduled to be part of a forum on Zoom for Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand which is called “Ready for Reset.”
You know, words matter. If Grant Robertson thinks the calls for a Great Reset coming from the World Economic Forum, and the comment pushing back against it are a big conspiracy theory, then he should stop using the very word which has people all over the world highly suspicious. That word is “reset.”
My question is, did I hit a nerve with him? Are there some shocks in store for taxpaying New Zealanders in the near future that he doesn’t want us to think about now?
I always thought Grant Robertson was a level headed, amenable, approachable sort of bloke who loved his footy and didn’t mind a beer. But something has set him off big time, and that’s the end of a beautiful relationship on my radio station. Oh well. That’s that. If that’s all it takes to get the Deputy Prime Minister upset, then we – that is the country – has an issue.
It wasn’t as if he didn’t take the opportunity to shoot down the idea quite vociferously. But you know on Thursday, when he was on air with me, I was channelling and paraphrasing my inner Shakespeare – and many of my listeners picked up on it too – “the man doth protest too much, methinks.”
So with both Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson not wanting to come on Magic Talk after 9 am, the field is pretty wide open.
Do you regard it as a badge of honour when a politician blanks you? I don’t think of it like that. I just think it’s silly and petty that the Deputy Prime Minister of this country won’t come on this show each week to answer a few generally non-combative questions. I just really don’t get it.
After all, it isn’t me fronting up with the accountants to talk about a reset in a couple of weeks.
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