Hard News by Russell Brown



I've just listened to Willie Jackson's interview with Clint Rickards on Radio Waatea. I'm less shocked at what the subject had to say than what the interviewer said.

"Phil Kitchens (sic) wouldn't have a bias, because he's not Louise's friend, is he?" Jackson asked ironically as he introduced the interview.

"Louise is a rock star and Clint Rickards is the scum of the earth according to mainstream media," he continued, later declaring "Operation Austin, they seemed to be able to find women everywhere."

Jackson also tried to get Rickards to say that the investigations against him were motivated by racism on the part of people who didn't want a Maori to be Police Commissioner. The former assistant commssioner wasn't going to go there; nor was he about to reiterate his support for his convicted rapist friends Shipton and Schollum, on the basis that anything he said would be "misconstrued". No one mentioned John Dewar.

"Once some of the women in politics saw it they just judged you guilty, didn't they?" invited Jackson.

Rickards claimed police had "coerced" a complaint out of the woman who claimed she was indecently assault with a bottle at the age of 16, but then concluded by insisting he supported the police "110% … I have no gripe or issues against the police -- I've said that before."

And Jackson didn't ask the question that might have made this angry man squirm: the daughter he mentioned more than once is about the age now that Louise Nicholas was when these men, in their position of responsibility, began to use her: would he be so blithe and forgiving if she had been so used?

In the end, it doesn't really matter what Clint Rickards thinks; nor the degree of his denial about what men with the duty of guardianship were doing in Rotorua in the 1980s. He's gone, and anyone who believes he was pursued because of his race is too deep in denial to bother with.

And on a more trivial matter: has there ever been a more overwhelming surge of Canterbury parochialism than that over the All Black coaching announcement? The two Cantabs on our rugby mailing list are absolutely beside themselves, and the vox pops from the region on Friday were hilarious: a "loser" had been rewarded declared on chap; apparently not pausing to ponder the the fate of the losing captain from Canterbury who had actually been on the field; or that that captain appears to have strongly endorsed the re-appointment of Graham Henry. The parochial peak was struck on Morning Report today when both Fergie McCormick and Alex Wyllie appeared to say they would support a Wallabies side coached by Deans over an All Black team. Good grief.

I'm happy with Graham Henry, and a little cheered that reflexive blood-letting has been avoid for once. But I'd have been happy with Robbie Deans too. They're both very good coaches. It just doesn't seem occasion for declaring war on the rest of the country.

Finally, we can only imagine the tantrum that would ensue from the New Zealand Herald if a senior [political figure was to issue a stream of inflammatory statements about public issues -- and then refuse to answer (or even be asked) any questions.

So what are we to make of Herald editor Tim Murphy's refusal to talk to Colin Peacock of Mediawatch for the programme's report on the paper's campaign against the Electoral Finance Bill?

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