Hard News by Russell Brown

Let's get on

So here we are, finally. The Civil Union Bill will pass its final reading today - by a far more comfortable margin than either last year's prostitution law reform or the homosexual law reform of 1986 - and, assuming something untoward doesn't happen to the Relationships bill next year, we can all get onto something else. It should never have been this fraught.

Last week in Wellington I chatted to a man in a very senior job who said he wished a little that the bill had never been brought. Not because he was against it. Quite the contrary: he lived with his long-term male partner. But, he said, the bitterness of the debate had made him and his partner uncomfortable, especially in respect of their weekly attendance at church.

But it is worth noting, as Helen Bain pointed out in her Star Times column, that however harsh the rhetoric has seemed, it is of a different stripe to that of 1986. Only a couple of MPs have sermonised against sodomy this time, and even National's hilarious Brian Connell, who was sprung with a lesbian sister-in-law, was obliged to admit that she was a good mother to her children.

Much as I would be amused to see Paul Adams continue his fast indefinitely, I do look forward to this issue going away, at least for a while. Having witnessed the squeezing of pus, it would be nice now to heal.

Anyway, nice to see that Deborah Coddington, on the advice of her daughter, has overcome her wearying tendency to triteness (last week: "just the Labour Government vote-buying, we're-nice-to-gays garbage") and will now vote in favour of the Civil Union Bill. As will Labour's Paul Swain. Don Brash really ought to have held his fire. Back talking to Camilla this morning, he said that the passage of the CUB would make virtually no difference to wider society. And then that it was such an important matter that it should go to a referendum. He would have been much better off simply voting his conscience and sparing himself the rhetorical obstacle course.

Paul Litterick's new Fundy Post for the Rationalists is funny and pointed as usual. But I have to say, I came into possession of a bottle of Bellamy's chardonnay once, and it was shocking …

Rodney Hide's blog is increasingly a home for interesting debate on Act's philosophy and future direction. Latest thread: a discussion of National's change of mind on four weeks' annual leave. FWIW, I agree with Nigel Kearney's view that Douglas and Quigley got it wrong when they resigned last week over Act's "false path". Rodney largely looks to me like what Act ought to be.

PA reader Aron got in touch with some related news:

I thought you may be interested to know that today I was phone-surveyed re: Ken Shirley. It was profile/recognition stuff and led into some questions on scenarios for my electorate (Tamaki) involving National not fronting a candidate in order to get ACT a seat in parliament. They may just be testing the waters but it was a pretty specific line of questioning.

Tom Pullar-Strecker has an interesting story on what we might expect from Telecom's move to a next-generation IP-based voice and data network. Forget numbers, it's all about names …

Slashdot has a thread on news that the PC malware jackals are turning on each other. Heh.

And a little anecdote. A pal at The Radio Network was with a group having a gasper in TRN carpark that greeted Paul Holmes this week with the news that he was number 26 on The Listener's Top 50 Power List.

"Number 26!?" said a clearly disappointed Holmes.

"Oh, it's alright - Kim Hill didn't make the list at all."

"She didn't?" said the media dynamo. And off he went, happy again …

Speaking of gaspers, I'm looking forward to the bars going smokefree tomorrow; and I say that as someone who has been known to enjoy a sly rollie in a bar. I'm sick of coming home from a night out stinking of smoke, and I strongly suspect that for most New Zealanders, smoking inside at bars will become as odd as smoking inside at someone's home. The only thing that troubles me is the quirk that makes an RSA Club smokefree but leaves a housie hall alone as a private gathering.

It'll be interesting to see what happens as midnight turns on tonight's bound-to-be-good SJD/Dimmer gig at the Studio in K Road. Not much, probably. I'm looking forward to seeing the Checks play the Masonic tomorrow night: last time I saw them there, the bar was dreadfully smoky. Oh, and a four-piece version of the Tokey Tones plays the Odeon Lounge on Saturday. Get out.