Hard News by Russell Brown


Chicken soup

You'll forgive me for not providing detailed analysis of yesterday's Budget today. I am struck down with a virus: possibly Afghan flu.

My short version: like it or not, it's coherent. I'm relieved to see something that appears to have been the result of process and planning, rather than blurted at a press conference by the Prime Minister. If economic growth takes off in the next four years, Bill English will look good. If not, he has cut taxes with borrowed money.

It will take a few days to shake out all the nasty little surprises – and perhaps to hunt for further examples of patronage like the $4.8 million given to Pacific Economic Development Agency Ltd, a private company with very little in the way of a track record, but closely aligned with churches and supported by prospective National MPs Michael Jones and Inga Tuigamala.

Radio New Zealand's Pacific correspondent Richard Pamatatau was very blunt about the agency on Checkpoint last night, describing it as "hardly known by anybody in the Pacific Island population" and having "no real clear focus" and "no connections and no ability to engage with the population."

Pacific Eyewitness has expressed similar concerns:

An interesting find in this budget for Pacific: funding for a privately-owned business with two directors and one shareholder, Pacific Economic Development Agency Ltd, to spearhead Auckland’s economic development for Pacific. We’ve never heard of this organisation which is a limited liability company. Was there a tender for this? Don’t know. No information as yet on what exactly they will be doing. They better deliver better than what we presently receive so until then, we’ll wait and see.

Hmmm. In a climate when we're constantly being lectured about quality of spending and accountability, this is … interesting.


I was really pleased with this week's Media7 interview with independent journalist Jon Stephenson, fresh back from Afghanistan. Quite compelling. It's here to view.


The Grand Final party for the 48 Hour film-making contest was fun last night (and no, that's not why I'm feeling rough – I had two drinks all night), and I was delighted to see my buddies at the Downlow Concept become winners for a second time with their ghost story Only Son. As I like to point out, I knew them before they were cool.

I was impressed by the standard of films in general, and by the funny, stylish TV programme that Two Heads produced around them. Every one deserves a hangover, I reckon. And possibly the funniest part of the whole evening was the archive footage of Ant Timpson from the first year of the contest – wearing what appeared to be a comedy surf wig (actually hair).

You can also download Silke Hartung's song for Only Son, which I am informed is very filthy if you understand German.



MusicHYpe.com have a New Zealand indie mixtape thing that you can audition and vote on.

Still loving David Dallas's Til Tomorrow, free for the download (and not exactly copyright clearable), which made No.1 on the Hype Machine Twitter chart last weekend.

And thanks to Pete Darlington for the heads up on this little beuty: LCD Soundsystem cover Paperclip People's 'Throw'.

Okay. Got any chicken soup?

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