WATCH: Former NZ Deputy PM BLASTS Avi Yemini ban

Winston Peters says the toothless mainstream media in New Zealand has been corrupted

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Former New Zealand Deputy PM Winston Peters launched into a scathing spray on the state of the nation's media after it refused to ask the tough questions and report fairly on Avi Yemini's ban.

The New Zealand First party leader said in an interview with independent broadcaster Sean Plunket that the story was a 'massive concern' and that the 'application of the rules now depends upon who you are'.

"These sorts of anomalies and indiscretions on the part of the government can't go on," he said.

"It's a mess and it's not being something confessed or owned up to because the nature of Parliamentary questions put by the media is to ensure that the system is honest and is accountable.

"And if you can be deceptive and get away with all sorts of roadblocks and deviations in your own answer then there's no accountability and the whole thing's a waste of time."

Peters noted that The New Zealand Herald article used by Interpol as justification to dig up dirt on Rebel News reporter Avi Yemini contained 'unproven allegations' and questioned why Interpol was involved in the matter at all.

"Why hasn't the Police Minister or the head of the Police explained what went on here because if they can do that to somebody who is after all, from Australia our nearest neighbour and friend, then they can do it to you as well," he said.

He outlined the danger of the government's meddling with 'political and media freedoms' and noted that the country's media crisis has worsened since Jacinda Ardern's Labour government 'walked in and gave them $55 million and bought their soul'.

"We used to have a thing called the 'Fourth Estate' keeping the political system, be it local or central government, with all its flaws, accountable," he said.

"It no longer happens, the mainstream media, as you know, has been corrupted, they've been bought off, they're not asking the real questions any longer.

"This is actually a serious road to what I might call perdition when it comes to a democracy and freedom. The Fourth Estate's not doing its job.

"I'm sorry to say that because in the end whether you like journalists or not, a free media, an accountable media is critical to a free society."

Plunket is one of the country's only journalists covering the story and holding the government to account over the incident. 

"Every time I ask at the Beehive about this, the Prime Minister, let's be frank, looks a little bit pissed off at me," he said.

Plunket later grilled NZ Police Minister Chris Hipkins about Yemini's ban on The Platform.

New Zealand's mainstream media has refused to cover the story aside from running the government's line unchallenged.

Yemini and independent journalist Rukshan Fernando had their passports flagged at Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport, with Yemini refused entry into the country by NZ Immigration.

Yemini was advised by an Immigration officer 'Sarah', who refused to give her last name, that he would not be let into the country based on an article she had read in The New Zealand Herald.

The article was published without a reporter's byline in the newspaper a day before the Interpol memo was sent from Wellington to Canberra to seek information the agency could use to stop the journalists from reporting on the protest.

The newspaper article and the Interpol email both used the same misleading descriptions of Yemini and Fernando as justification for the dramatic action.

Avi is crowdfunding to fight against this unjust decision. If you can, please consider donating to his legal fund using the form on this page, any amount helps.

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