Hard News by Russell Brown


I'm starting to wonder whether it was John Tamihere I liked, or just Helen Bain's script. After last week's Parliamentary assault on TV3, which was followed by a blog posting so silly that somebody sensibly deleted it from the party website (I'll paste in the whole thing below), comes the publication of Tamihere's interview with Ian Wishart of Investigate magazine.

Leaving aside the obvious - ie, if he was going to lose the plot, couldn't he have done it somewhere a little classier than Investigate? - what's notable about Tamihere's depiction of his colleagues in government is how woefully self-serving it is. Everyone else is a "tosser", a "queer", a "butch", a bunch of dupes (Labour's coalition partners) or (in the case of the Parliamentary Press Gallery) "utterly and totally useless". Tamihere, on the other hand, offers leadership defined by "moral issues", and has caucus colleagues who would back him "to the hilt". Yeah, right …

Tamihere has his virtues - and one of them is the emotional charge he brings to the business of politics - but even if he gets re-elected, I doubt anyone in his caucus (which elects a Cabinet) thinks he's senior leadership material any more. Trying to bounce back from a failure of judgement by abandoning any judgement whatsoever will do that to you.

And as Rodney Hide points out, the Maori Party won't have him - despising Tamihere is just about written into its constitution. Rodney has a whole lot more laughs listing the Wit and Wisdom of the Member for Tamaki Makarau in his blog, and the Herald story sums it up.

The funny thing is that Rodney, who has devoted enormous energy to declaring that John Tamihere's word is not to be trusted, went on Checkpoint yesterday to declare that every word JT had said was God's truth. Even the claim, in Rodney's words, that "the country is being run by a lesbian cabal". Don't be such a fuckwit man. Nobody's asking you about the (ahem) "heterosexual cabal" running your party …

Both Rodney and DPF are having a good old gloat, which is entirely understandable, but I seriously doubt that the public will see this the same way as the Katherine Rich business. Rich looked feisty to the public. Tamihere just looks demented. I think he's going to be a lonely man from now on. Oh, and that deleted blog post, made when he knew that the Investigate story was coming down the pike and had failed to stop it, in full:

Despite knowing that several allegations screened by TV3 Duncan Garner against me were wrong TV3 proceeded to run the story.

TV3’s producer, Mr Jennings has rushed to the defence of Mr Garner, despite the fact that he approved the hatchet job. Getting Jennings to rush to the aid of Garner is a bit like watching Hitler defend Goebbels. Who watches the media? Garner and Jennings knew that the tax allegation was false. They knew that I was a trustee of my sister’s family trust and did not own the property and they still sent their cameras around to violate my sister, a grandmother bringing up her grandchildren by herself.

Jennings says that Garner says he does not have a private media consultancy business. I say what Jennings says is untrue – that is a fact and Garner knows he is telling porkies again.

I could proceed to list further allegations which under limited journalistic scrutiny would have been found to have been wrong and unworthy. Who watches the Garners and Jennings of this world? Who looks at their ethnics, their standards, their morality?

Garner and his mates at the Waipareira Trust must now know that Rodney Hide will drop them like a hot spud as he has done with his other soul mate, Jim Peron.

Hide stood up in the House and stated unequivocally that ‘Jim Peron is a fine upstanding citizen – he has had dinner at my house and I have had dinner at his house’ I wonder what tricks and treats occurred at these dinners?

That last part is especially sad.

If you want more, Noelle has Wally Wishart on her 95bFM Wire show at 12.15pm today.

A correction to last week's post on the disappearing tribute to Jim Peron from Rodney's conference speech. The sans-Peron version went out well after the speech on his Hidesight email list, but Rodney says it was actually an earlier version, sent in error, and censoring after the fact wouldn't be his style, and I believe him.

No Right Turn responds to a Sunday Star Times poll showing remarkably strong public opposition to any more state asset sales - and notes Chris Trotter's speculation that a promise to buy back infrastrucure companies, including Tranz Rail and Telecom should sit well in some party's platform. Well, the deal with Toll has already seen the Crown regain the important part - the tracks - for $1, with sundry fine print aimed at protecting both Toll's financial interest and the public good. Murray Horton offers a detailed left-wing criticism of the government's decision not to compete with Toll for the whole of Tranz Rail - but we really don't want the government getting into bidding wars. That kind of risk is for commercial companies.

And there aren't many retail businesses we really want the government running either, least of all a complex one like Telecom. It's too late to mandate unbundling, and unless Telecom decided to flick off its infrastructure (somewhat unlikely), It would make more sense for the government to fund new telecommunications infrastructure (largely indirectly, by enabling schools, hospitals, universities and research institutions to install new fibre - they did it with interest-free loans in Canada). Telecom would hate this too - reasoning that its taxes were being used to compete against it - but it would foster a wave of competition at the retail end and we'd all have broadband for breakfast. We need more private telcos, not a state monopoly. This is really what the Advanced Network argument is about. So our theoretical left-wing party should be promising not to buy back Telecom, but to get open-access fibre laid every and make some regulations as to the use of Internet exchanges.

Meanwhile, a Herald poll indicates that the public would rather have more spending on services than tax cuts. Fewer than a quarter surveyed preferred an across-the-board tax cut.

No Right Turn also comments on an insight at Big News - which is that, on the numbers, it would serve National's purposes very badly if it were to abolish Maori seats and have all their voters flow back into general electorates. You reckon they thought about that?

Riverbend gets into media crit as American TV floods into Iraq. Quite funny.

Like any good music nerd, I have a mental list of the Best Gigs Ever; the shows that, if they didn't change my life, certainly added to my understanding of what a live performance can be. Even leaving aside local artists - which, for no particular reason, I categorise separately - there have been a few.

The list includes the Clash in Auckland, 1982; Prince at Wembley Arena on the Parade tour, 1986 (the tunes! the arrangements! the choreography!); David Thomas, New Cross, 1987; the Butthole Surfers, whilst trollied on acid (me, I mean, but quite possibly them too), London ULU 1989; Boogie Down Productions, Brixton Academy, 1989; Sun Ra and the Arkestra, Harlesden Mean Fiddler, 1990; Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Brixton Academy, 1991; The Flaming Lips, Auckland Big Day Out, 2004; The White Stripes, Auckland St James 2004 … and I should also note that The Fall have never let me down.

It looks like I'm fixing to add another one: George Clinton and his band were sensational on Saturday night. The three-hour show traversed the history of black music from 'Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On' to 'Atomic Dog' (including, it must be noted, an unfortunate half hour of prog rock from the Funkadelic lineup) and hit its peak in a mind-blowing 20-minute journey through 'Flashlight'. Wow. Oh yes we got The Funk, and we were all the better for it …

PS: I'm not often in a position to pass on sports gossip, but here goes: did you see the sevens in Hong Kong recently? Did you note the speed, strength and skill of loose forward Liam Messam? Would you reckon he might make a future midfielder in the mould of Tana Umaga? Well, apparently the All Black selectors do ...