Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson has pulled out of his weekly Magic Talk slot with Peter Williams after he was asked about 'The Great Reset'.
The Great Reset is a project launched by the World Economic Forum in partnership with Prince Charles aimed at promoting sustainable economic growth in the aftermath of COVID-19.
Conspiracy theorists have since latched on to the project claiming it's a plan by a cabal of elites to institute a New World Order, another conspiracy theory.
Robertson phoned into Williams' radio show on Thursday morning just before 10:30am, and was asked about his understanding of 'The Great Reset' and whether New Zealand is going to be part of it.
"Oh Peter, I think it's actually reasonably 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," Robertson responded.
Robertson's office later contacted Williams to inform him that he would no longer appear on the show because he doesn't want to have to shoot down conspiracy theories.
What is The Great Reset?
As the UK's COVID-19 death toll climbed to the tens of thousands last year, the royal family's YouTube account published a video about a new sustainability initiative called The Great Reset, in partnership with the World Economic Forum (WEF).
The video discusses how the "current global crisis has disrupted every aspect of our lives" but has also presented "extraordinary" opportunities to "reset" and improve the state of the world and deliver fairer outcomes for all.
But The Great Reset soon became blurred as the narrative was adopted by conspiracy theorists including QAnon to claim an alleged takeover by "globalist elites". The baseless theory claims world leaders orchestrated the COVID-19 pandemic to take control of the global economy.
"They thought they could easily get their great reset," a man shouted at an anti-lockdown protest in London, according to The Guardian. "Little did they know the pandemic's a hoax!"
"You know the idea, 'never let a crisis go to waste'," said Fox News host Laura Ingraham in November - the same US TV personality who falsely claimed a month earlier that Kiwis were being thrown into quarantine camps.
"With the coronavirus, that idea went global," Ingraham told her 3.5 million viewers. "And since last spring, powerful people began to use this pandemic as a way to force radical social and economic change across the continents."
Deputy Prime Minister pulls the plug
In his interview with the Deputy Prime Minister, Williams argued his questioning of the 'The Great Reset' was valid because it originated from the WEF, which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has previously spoken at.
But Robertson said it was dangerous of Williams to conflate the original initiative with the new narrative it has taken on, by bringing up an upcoming event Robertson is set to speak at, where he will talk about how to 'reset' the economy post-COVID.
"It's a giant conspiracy theory that's got no credit whatsoever," Robertson said.
"The talk of resets - I'm doing a conference organised by the Chartered Accountants Association Australia and New Zealand shortly - is a reference to the fact that we 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.
"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."
Williams said it was "important" then that the Deputy Prime Minister dismisses the idea. But he then asked Robertson to confirm there was no connection.
"So this presentation you're doing with Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand in a couple of weeks, which is called 'Ready to Reset', that's got nothing to do with what the WEF is saying?"
Robertson responded: "Just because the word 'reset' is being used does not mean there is any giant conspiracy theory here. I think it is frankly absurd and dangerous to indulge those who believe that."
Williams said Robertson's office emailed him at 4:10pm on Thursday.
The statement read: "I am 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."