Hard News by Russell Brown


Meet the New Bob

I wonder if the Electoral Finance Bill is the political right's GE issue: a rallying point for protest and an issue in which that dogged protest has had a valuable impact on legislation, but whose proponents have a tendency to absolutism -- and don't half go on a bit.

We'll finally actually see what we're arguing about today, when the revised bill is tabled. The response of the New Zealand Herald -- whose editorial voice began the week in manic tone and finished in a depressive slough -- will be interesting.

But we got a little taste yesterday of the sort of third-party campaigning one of the stars of Saturday's protest march wants to be able to undertake next year.

Family First placed a full-page ad in the Sunday Star Times. It showed a swinging smacking hand behind the legend Reality hits parents and listed "just a few examples of parents who have been reported as a result of the anti-smacking law". Five, to be precise. Not charged, let alone convicted, mind you: simply spoken to.

"Will you be next?" it demands over the Family first logo and its motto: "Defending the role of parents and the well-being of our children".

Ironically, another Sunday paper, the Herald on Sunday, carried a child-welfare story from a Famiy First cause celebre that has now been carefully put aside.

The "Timaru lady" is alleged to have assaulted another one of her children -- that's three, by my count, and two since she was acquitted under the old Section 59 of assaulting her disturbed son with a riding crop. This time she is said to have punched her 13 year old daughter (the one she told the nation was "my perfect little angel") in the face.

Bob's been pretty quiet about the Timaru lady lately. Which is odd, given that last year he flew her to Auckland to appear on his radio show, where she was presented as a good mother suffering under the state jackboot. Things change, right?

But Bob has plans. He is the centrepiece of Vote for Family, an organisation that will "expose the voting records of all 121 sitting MPs on key moral issues such as the prostitution legalisation bill, the civil union bill and the anti-smacking bill."

Well, fair enough. But given that this is effectively a remix of the conservative Christian lobby that played a significant behind-the-scenes role in the last election campaign, I suspect I'm not alone in desiring a little more transparency. Who are these people? How much money do they have? Where's it from? And what discussions have they had with established political parties?

Still, at least there's someone there to save us from the trauma of hearing the word "wanker" on The Simpsons. Because we don't want the government wading into our lives, do we?


Anyway, I hope and trust that there will be moral lapses up the wazoo at the great Wellingtonista-Public Address Christmas Party at Welington's Mighty Mighty on Thursday, December 6.

Doors open on the party of the year at 6pm, and about an hour later, I will kick off It Doesn't Give My Opponents Much Time Either, which will pit two teams of ageing celebrities against each other in a quiz themed on when Muldoon was Prime Minister.

Moving on, Jo Hubris will present the 2nd Annual Wellingtonista Awards, honouring the capital's coolest things.

And then … Blam Blam Blam will play their first Wellington show in years.

I'm deeply grateful to Freeview for sponsoring the event and helping us secure the Blams. And that's not all. Two lucky party punters will win Freeview satellite decoders (with installs if required) on the night.

Places are strictly limited, but you can reserve yours by emailing: the.wellingtonista@gmail.com . Once you're reserved, you pay a mere $15 at the door on arrival. Be aware that the reserves will be held only until 7.30pm. After that, we'll let in paying punters until the room is full. Be quick!

(If you can't join us, don't fret. With the assistance of The Down Low Concept, creators of Off the Wire and Pop Goes the Weasel, we'll be recording the event for a Public Address Radio special to air next month on Radio Live.)

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