Hard News by Russell Brown


In the Game

I'm with Trevor Mallard on Maori Television's bid for Rugby Word Cup TV rights. If the broadcaster was bidding with its own resources that would be one thing – but for it to do so with $3 million promised without reference to Cabinet by the Minister of Maori Affairs is quite another. If the money comes from, as the Herald's story says, "funds set aside to foster Maori development", it needs to be asked whether this is really the best use for it.

As this morning's follow-up story notes, the promised public backing sees the taxpayer enter a major commercial negotiation with no obvious rationale for doing so. The fact that Maori Television only reaches 85% of viewers presents another obvious problem. I would hate to think that more would have to be spent on extending transmission so that $3 million in Maori development funding can be handed to the International Rugby Board.

Staying with Maori Television: PA reader Graham Leonard points out that last night's "documentary" on the channel, Making a Killing, is a polemic produced by a Scientology front organisation, The Citizens Commission on Human Rights. It's part of Scientology's "war on psychiatry", which links psychiatry to everything from the rise of Hitler to the death of Kurt Cobain and the proliferation of terrorism.

Here's Part 1 of the film that occupied two hours of publicly-funded television time last night:

You may care to google the name of some of the "experts" who appear in it. Let's take Dr Garry Gordon, who's described as a "physician", but turns out to be a quack of the highest order.

How on earth does this sort of swill wind up in mainstream distribution? And did anyone at Maori Television bother to watch it before it screened?


David Farrar deserves credit for bringing to light to Green Party's accommodation arrangements, which see the party's MPs claim accommodation support to pay rent to their own superannuation fund, which owns the properties where they live in Wellington. Such an arrangement is permissible, but it demands a high degree of transparency – a higher degree, in fact, than the Greens have demonstrated in their handling of an embarrassingly high subsidy revealed by yesterday's Q+A programme.

I'm sure that Metiria Turei is telling the truth when she says that back in June the party realised that MPs Jeanette Fitzsimons and Catherine Delahunty were claiming twice as much as they ought ($1000 pw) for the house they share in Wellington. The party has paid back $6000. But it's hardly good enough that this only emerges because Q+A pressed the matter. And why was the money only paid back last week if the issue became clear in June?

On the other hand, the Greens have spared us the kind of convoluted and legalistic defence Farrar offered for Bill English's arrangements, which is something of a mercy. (Although Marty G at The Standard has had a go on their behalf.)

Farrar meanwhile strikes a more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger pose in blogging about Labour MP Chris Carter travelling to Samoa, providing a platform for his troll farm animals to bray their creepy homophobic sentiments. (FFS, David: if you really want to raise the tone of your comments, don't fanny about giving "20 demerit points". Just ban these people.)

Carter, it seems clear, went to Samoa in support of Winnie Laban, who lost a family member to the tsunami. I don't have a problem with them being there, especially given that they have been providing information to our government. And an uncharitable person might suppose that Carter's chief offence has simply been to have embarrassed Murray McCully.


And just to raise the tone ...

Giovanni Tiso wrote a beautiful post about connecting with his daughter Lucia – who has been diagnosed on the autism spectrum – through the hands-on practice of making pizza. We republished it on Humans.

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