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AUT students react to cabinet reshuffle, Melissa Lee's demotion from Broadcasting Minister [Web Exclusive]

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Written by Caeden Tipler (they/them) @caedentipler | News Editor

National MP Melissa Lee has been demoted from Cabinet after losing her media portfolio. She is set to be replaced by existing Minister for Arts, Culture, and Heritage Paul Goldsmith.


This comes after Lee was not able to respond to questions from the media about the closure of Newshub. She also declined multiple one-on-one interviews with RNZ and NZME where she was expected to discuss the rapidly changing media landscape in Aotearoa. 


In a 1p.m. press stand-up, Prime Minister Christopher Luxon stated it was not Melissa Lee’s actions that led to her demotion, but the need for a “senior Minister” to manage the “complex” new media environment. The Prime Minister maintained it was consistent with his leadership style emphasising, “This is how I roll.” 


One AUT Communications student, who has asked to stay anonymous, told Debate, “It’s frustrating to see all the cuts and reshuffling in the industry without any clear plan moving forward.”


“It just adds to the uncertainty for the future of students entering the industry.”


Te Waha Nui editor Evie Richardson shared similar thoughts. She said, “We can see pretty clearly that the Government approach has been doing virtually nothing” and “they’ve kept quiet despite significant job cuts.”


She said it was too early to tell whether or not Paul Goldsmith would do a good job. She wasn’t endorsing him, but stated that it was “clear that Melissa Lee wasn’t the right person for the job in the way she responded.” Richardson thinks it’s also not just about the individual minister, but the response from the Government as a whole for an issue “bigger than any one minister.”


The impact Lee's lack of responses on the state of media could have on students is clear, for those working and studying in the industry Lee’s response was taken as “disheartening.”


This isn’t the end of the line for journalism in Aotearoa; in fact for many young journalists it’s an “exciting” time, but “when there is silence from the Government on the positive change that can could from the darkness - that is disheartening.”


Paul Goldsmith has not been too active as the Arts, Culture, and Heritage minister thus far, however he recently confirmed he was in the early stages of researching an arts strategy with members of the creative sector. 


Considering the overlap between the creative arts sector and media/broadcasting, time can only tell how the minister will approach his new portfolio and balance them with his pre-existing ones. 

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