Dear Mr Skelton and Professor Cameron
Response to incorrect RMIT ABC Fact Check article
This letter is in response to an article entitled “Does New Zealand’s parliament really play second fiddle to a ‘Māori Voice’?” which appeared in the RMIT ABC Fact Check weekly newsletter “Check Mate” on 14 April 2023 and published on the ABC website.
The article makes serious allegations that the Institute of Public Affairs’ research is factually incorrect, and that, as a consequence, the IPA is spreading misinformation. These allegations are unsubstantiated and based on subjective opinion rather than objective fact.
The article also mentions a member of the IPA’s executive team by name, Mr Daniel Wild. The false claims made in the article have the potential to materially damage Mr Wild’s reputation. For this reason, and due to the other errors in the article explained below, the article must be immediately withdrawn.
There are three key issues with the article:
- The article makes three central claims, all of which are incorrect and highly misleading. The central claims are that:
- the New Zealand parliament is not subservient to the Waitangi Tribunal;
- the Waitangi Tribunal is not a ‘Māori Voice to Parliament’; and
- the Prime Minister has not pointed to the Waitangi Tribunal as a model for the Voice to Parliament.
No evidence whatsoever is provided in the article to substantiate these claims, or to “debunk” the IPA’s analysis.
- The RMIT Fact Lab website states that the project “brings together the best of quality journalism and academic excellence”, yet the article violates basic standards and norms of journalistic ethics and excellence.
- The article mislabels the IPA as a ‘lobby group’ and misquotes the IPA as having referred to the New Zealand parliament as ‘playing second fiddle’. These factual errors are particularly glaring when committed by an organisation purportedly checking the factual accuracy of statements.
Each of these matters is elaborated on further below.
As a result of the errors in the article:
- The RMIT ABC Fact Check must immediately withdraw the article and publish a written retraction and apology, and
- The RMIT Fact Lab must immediately cease all publications pending a full, transparent, and independent audit of its processes.
The bias and inaccuracy of the RMIT Fact Lab makes it appear as though the RMIT Fact Lab is an organisation campaigning for a “yes” vote at the upcoming referendum on the Voice to Parliament.