Hard News by Russell Brown

Some fuss

Residents outside the Beltway may be puzzled by this morning's Claims of Govt split rejected. It refers to apparent threats to resign by two ministers: Marian Hobbs and Taito Philip Field.

I don't know about Field - only God does, apparently - but the Hobbs thing blew up last Thursday, when Wellingtonians woke up to discover that the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary had failed to get the $6 million it sought from the government's Significant Community Based Projects Fund, leaving Hobbs and her defeated Wellington Central rival Mark Blumsky sorely pissed and displaying the raging sense of entitlement (what you mean we didn't get the money?) common to both native and adopted Capital dwellers.

Blumsky is on the Sanctuary board, and Hobbs, guessing that he'd make a crusade of it, thought she'd get her own indignation ("embarrassed and hurt") in first. This, understandably, did not go down well with Her Upstairs, who does sorely pissed better than most people. So I guess it's possible that Hobbs offered her resignation rather than threatening it. Either that or there was a brief barney of a nature only one side was going to win.

It's understandable that the Sanctuary backers felt left out, given that the Sanctuary was supposedly exactly the sort of project the fund was created for (and yes, I understand that it's a totally amazing only-in-Wellington project and absolutely the kind of thing that feckless bloody Aucklanders wouldn't get together in a million years, etc). But they were seeking a hell of a lot of money - as much as the three successful applicants put together - and the other projects had some significant merits.

The stadium in Invercargill will house New Zealand's only world-class velodrome; the Chinese gardens in Dunedin are part of the whole apology thing; and the eco-tourism venture on the West Coast? Well governments of all stripes seem to feel it vital to keep those buggers happy …

Other stuff. I got phone-polled this week; political preferences, brain-drain, and an endless series of queries on behalf of Auckland city and regional authorities (er, um, transport, yeah …). Whatever. More interesting was my mate being surveyed by someone on behalf of Radio Sport. He managed to extract the news that Tony Veitch isn't going down terribly well with the listeners. So send Martin Devlin back to the sports beat - because he's howlingly bloody awful and has no clue as a current affairs breakfast host.

And finally: is it just me, or is telecommunications marketing ramping lately? Vodafone seems to call every few days to make sure everything's alright with my mobile, and last night, there was a knock on the door just before 8pm. When I finally got there, there was a man who claimed to be representing Telecom.

"Do you have an Internet connection?" he asked.


"Is it dial-up or broadband?"


Don't expect to me to stand on my doorstep on a chilly night answering stupid questions. And better yet, don't go doorknocking in the dark when people don't know who's calling. Christ, it might be that P-crazed terminally ill guy with all the guns.

PS: Warmest congratulations to our own Jolisa Gracewood, who is a finalist in the reviewers' section of the Montana Book Awards. Yay!