Melissa Lee says she will talk to David Seymour over TVNZ reporter comments, ACT leader says it's 'not really her job'

Associate Finance Minister David Seymour is refusing to back away from comments criticising how a TVNZ journalist reported on Prime Minister Christopher Luxon's accommodation allowance.    

That's despite him being a shareholding minister - which expressly forbids him from directing the broadcaster on editorial matters.    

Seymour never turns down an opportunity to get in front of a camera and now he's digging in about media criticism.    

"I think part of the problem is some people are letting the side down and have absolutely no capacity for self-reflection," he said.    

On Thursday morning, as TVNZ journalists were preparing to watch the axe fall on their newsroom, Seymour hit the radio waves and fired a missile at one of its journalists.    

"I saw a report on 1News, Benedict Collins grinning down the camera about Chris Luxon's apartment costs," Seymour said.        

"These are the people that cry, 'Oh you've got to give us sympathy and you're inhumane and you should be kinder to us.'"  

The journalist in question, Collins, got under Seymour's skin during the election campaign by bringing to light past comments of ACT Party candidates comparing vaccine mandates to Nazi concentration camps, among other things.    

Now though, Seymour is a shareholding minister of TVNZ and its expressly spelled out in the Television New Zealand Act that no shareholding minister or any other minister may give a direction to TVNZ regarding the gathering or presentation of news    

Asked if he had apologised to the Prime Minister for breaching the ACT, Seymour said: "Well of course not, I haven't breached it."  

Luxon said: "I think politicians of all parties think they get unfair treatment from the media but the bottom line is you have a critical role to play in democracy."  

When it was put to him Seymour has a role as overseeing TVNZ, Luxon said he hadn't seen his Coalition partner's comments.   

It's not the only time Seymour's taken aim at TVNZ - once complaining they'd found independent experts to interview rather than the ones he suggested, saying: "We put the journalist in touch with a pharmacist, an academic and a drug expert... what did they do? Interviewed two pharmacists who oppose the policy."  

Another social media post took issue with TVNZ's chief correspondent, "quoting and linking to a left-wing blog".   

He stands by his posts.  

Seymour decried the death of democracy over Kiri Allan criticising RNZ at her former partners leaving do.    

"There is a real problem when the people who hold the purse strings aren't absolutely critically cautious about even the perception of interfering with media," he said at the time.  

Asked why that didn't apply to him, he said: "Well it actually does, the problem is the accusation is farcical."  

TVNZ released a statement saying, "David Seymour has singled out 1 News reporter Benedict Collins for doing his job.  

"We are not asking for sympathy but are asking for our politicians to respect the independence of our media."   

Asked if Luxon should talk to Seymour, Melissa Lee said: "No I think it is my responsibility as Minister of Broadcasting to have a conversation with him so I will."   

But Seymour said she hasn't.    

"It's not really her job to be honest."