Hard News by Russell Brown


A business most feral

I haven't commented here on the foul disputes at the Hawke's Bay District Health Board, largely because it hasn't been clear to me exactly what the hell went on there. Although I did suspect it wasn't quite the open-and-shut case that Bill Ralston recently declared it to be ("If National can't drive the dagger of this debacle into the Government's heart, it doesn't deserve to win the next election.")

It seemed unlikely to me that a man as ambitious as David Cunliffe would hitch his ministerial career to a brutal act of "utu" (as Ralston had it) if he knew there was an independent review of disputes around the board coming that would leave him thoroughly exposed only weeks later. Indeed, it appears that there may be things in the report not dreamed of in Ralston's philosophy.

Fran O'Sullivan had a detailed summary of the legal to-ing and fro-ing in the HoS yesterday. Among other things, it covers what became of the so-called "suppressed" draft of the report, which appeared to bear out claims of a conflict of interest on Peter Hausmann's part. Hausmann, like the other parties to the dispute, had the opportunity to review the draft, claimed it was "factually incorrect in several key areas" and had it peer-reviewed by a QC.

Presumably, Hausmann to some extent won his argument, or the original draft wouldn't have been leaked to the media and the National Party. Hausmann obviously has the money and motivation for serious lawyering. But that doesn't mean he's wrong, or right. He has simply exercised the same rights as all other parties to this lamentable mess.

Whatever the director-general reveals this afternoon, it won't be the end of the matter. Two former board members have laid a complaint with the police over Hausmann's alleged conflict of interest, without even waiting for the review's release, and I suspect that's only the start. Former Health minister Annette King has made extraordinary allegations that the former board members have told others that the seeding of rumours of an affair involving her husband "was going to be the next wave of attack". Yikes.

Whatever the whole truth of it, it does seem, if it's okay to use the word, a business most feral.

Meanwhile, Blair Mullholland was over the moon with the Act conference ("I have not ever seen the party so united, so organised and so determined"). Has anybody spied a report on how Penny Bright's speech went down?

Anyway, it's time for a giveaway -- a big one, from Monteith's, as a follow-up to the ad they ran with us last week.

They have a dozen Monteith's New Zealand Lager (each!) to give away to the first 100 people who use their mobile phones to text PUBLIC to 393. I should note that texts cost 20 cents and you must be over 18 to enter. If you're in the first 100, you'll receive a POCKETvoucher text message that you can present at any Liquorland store to redeem the prize.

The beer is one developed for the global market and now being launched domestically. I had some watching the cricket at the weekend: it's a nice, clean-tasting natural lager; less of a craft beer than the established Monteith's labels, more of an international lager. I'd buy it. (Clearly, I'd be somewhat compromised if I hadn't liked it, but I try to avoid such conflicts.)

I'm interested in how long it takes for the offer to fill up, so if you do the text thing and miss out, please let me know, either by email or in comments. (UPDATE: All gone in 25 minutes! But it looks like you'll still get a two-for-the-price-of-one offer if you text in UPDATE 2: There are still a few of the twofer deals going, but they'll probably be exhausted by 12.30pm.)

And furthermore: we also have two double passes for the following tour by Dimmer and Spectrum to give away. These are the dates:

Thu 20 Mar SF Bath House, Wellington
Sat 22 Mar Phat Club, Nelson
Mon 24 Mar Red Rock, Wanaka
Wed 26 Mar Backstage Bar, Dunedin
Thu 27 Mar Al’s Bar, Christchurch
Fri 28 Mar Kings Arms, Auckland
Sun 30 Mar Leigh Sawmill Café (late afternoon show with special guest Dean Roberts)

To make it slightly more challenging, I'll need you to tell me who made the memorable video for Dimmer's 'Seed'. Just click Reply, put your answer in the subject line and say which gig you want to go to in the body of the message.

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