Hard News by Russell Brown

Do the right thing

While Murray McCully is loudly declaring that "separate funding for Maori [broadcasting] should stop", it might be worth recalling that not only was he part of the National government that established Te Mangai Paho in 1994, he was a member of the Cabinet that agreed in 1997 "that TMP should be strengthened in its present form rather than abolished or merged with another organisation."

But he and his chum Rodney Hide (a joint statement quoted the pair of them in such a way as to conjure the idea of them singing in chorus, which is a scary thought) are right in saying that if it weren't for them, the conflicts of interest repeatedly embraced by Tame Te Rangi might have escaped attention.

It's a tragedy for the Maori broadcast funding agency which has, I understand, enjoyed excellent audit reports in recent years. Essentially the same problems are at play as was the case when National set up TMP. Back then, the government was so concerned about conflicts of interest that it appointed a board full of people with no interests in Maori broadcasting - which also they meant they didn't know anything about Maori broadcasting.

But it's also the same old story for Maori television: there's always someone who spoils it for the others.

If it wasn't Tuku Morgan trying to charge $20,000 for an interview about his use of public money, or paying himself more than the Prime Minister to "oversee sports coverage" at the fledgling Aotearoa Television Network, it was Joanna Paul's unusual use of Maori TV production money. In every case, someone's self-interest hurts the people who just want to do the right thing - like the poor folks on the floor at ATN (who earned little more than the dole) and Paul's partners at Aroha Productions. This has to stop and only Maori can stop it.

Anyway, getting offside with the Americans doesn't seem to be hurting the popularity of Helen Clark's government, according to today's NBR poll.

A senior British intelligence official appears to be saying that Tony Blair's office lied about the now somewhat-debunked "dossier" on Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. Blair is denying all, but the Americans are much more brazen: deputy defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz has told Vanity Fair that the alleged weapons threat was really just a convenient excuse for war.

And Spinsanity is sifting through the "myths, misconceptions and unanswered questions about the war in Iraq", including the presence or otherwise of banned weapons, links between Saddam and al-Qaeda and the saving of Private Ryan.

There's an eerie absence of top rugby this weekend, but it's only a couple of weeks until the All Blacks take on England at the Caketin. Isn't it nice to see an All Black team that the public is quietly thrilled by?

So I'm off to see some of my fellow auld buggers - the Blams, the Newmatics and the Chills - play True Colours at the St James tonight, then moving on to catch Britain's wonderful Soul Jazz sound system at the Wyndham Bowling Club. Enough for anyone's weekend, I reckon, especially after the Incredible Film Festival's big opening night party last night. I got out fairly early, but I could see where it was all heading. Late-night 80s retro karaoke on K Road indeed...