The Communication Agency

Turning on the tap to a double standard

The distraction of the Olympics aside, this Associate of Network wonders what furore would have ensued had Hasting’s water supply not been owned and operated by the district council. He suspects a double standard.

Perhaps it has been the distraction of the Olympics, or perhaps those outside the affected area don’t actually care very much. In any event it appears to me that Hastings District Council and its water treatment operation have been kindly treated in the latest “toxic water” event.

More so when you consider the furore that erupts when a slug is found on a piece of lettuce in a fast food meal, a bun is mouldy or a weevil is found in porridge oats. Events that affect a single consumer often attract a hugely disproportionate measure of publicity when it’s a branded product.

Apparently a different measure is applied to non-branded public services that affective 1000s of consumers. No one is justifying the quality lapses involving a slug or a weevil. However, by the relative publicity measure it may be more acceptable for a Council-owned reticulated water supply to make people ill, some very seriously.

You have to wonder what level of outrage would have occurred had the Hastings water service been owned and/or operated by an entity other than local government; and what this event and how it has been reported says about our expectations of Councils versus other enterprises.

It strikes me there could be a double-standard in play.


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