Copyright © 1996 Russell Brown
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GOOD DAY MEDIAPHILES ...
the Pacific is once more quiet. The French government has conducted its last nuclear test at Moruroa and must now sweep up the debris. And the rubble contains sharp rocks indeed. France's Pacific colonies have been so long kept under the thumb that they don't actually have economies and it's debatable whether the coloniser's promised decade-long golden handshake will do much to fix that. And the geological integrity of the atoll itself, now that the nuclear insults are over, is far from assured.
Oddly, these are the least of Jacques Chirac's problems. He is the least popular president in in the 40-year history of the Fifth Republic. He was obliged to lie about the economy in order to gain election and the public response to his belated dose of reality has been violence in the streets. France runs a budget deficit of 6 per cent of GDP and has to borrow the equivalent of 24 billion of our dollars annually just to pay its welfare bill. The health system is so badly designed that Frenchmen take five times as many prescription medicines as the British. They're in the merde. And do we feel a jot of sympathy? No we do not.
Over here, we're far too busy being entertained by that smash hit local sitcom, 'Minor Parties'. Did I say sitcom? Sorry, I meant impro. After all, surely Ross Meurant is making it up as he goes along. Mr Meurant, having left National to form ROC, aka the Conservative Party, has left that too. Somewhere on the summer beaches, he found satori. He decided that, having formed a Tory party which couldn't find its rural powerbase, his heart lay elsewhere. With, in fact, a bunch of mad-eyed urban rebels who want to privatise your granny.
But ACT, whose sole effort in the past six months has been directing towards hiring or buying its own sitting MP, isn't entirely sure it wants Mr Meurant. He can't go back from whence he came, so perhaps he should form yet another political entity - the PPP, or Prize Prick Party.
Still, at least he's getting noticed, which is more than can be said for, say, the Progressive Greens. In an effort to remedy that situation this week, the PGs' Guy Salmon went on the offensive over the testing of rabbit calicivirus. Our very own Kiwi has become the first life-form other than rabbits to develop antibodies to the virus. That could mean it's a non-starter for rabbit control in this country.
I would have thought early and thorough testing to be a prudent action, especially given what happened in Australia. And I see no reason to distrust the DOC scientists doing the work. But to listen to Salmon you'd have thought it was little Simon Upton out the back of Parliament with his chemistry set, torturing small animals.
Then there was Dave MacPherson of the Alliance, another household name. Dave reckons that the Super 12 rugby competition should be on free-to-air TV, and not pay TV, so that the whole nation can see it. Well, that'd be nice. But given that the whole competition is a concoction of, by and for pay TV, I'm not exactly holding my breath. Can he not think of anything better to complain about?
I must say, rugby's new age is not proceeding without troubles. The rumour I heard was that Rupert Murdoch's cheque was still in the mail and the rugby union, having paid the players and spent up on what passes for promotion in rugby union, was running a rather large overdraft. Surely not?
Whatever, the plan for the composite Auckland and Otago sides to visit Sri Lanka for some warm-up exhibition matches was rather blown to bits by the efforts of a mad suicide bomber in the middle of Colombo this week. They're not going.
Participants in the World Cup cricket competition have rather less choice. The subcontinent is holding the tournament and that includes Sri Lanka, with its Tamil bombers, and India and Pakistan, who presently have a genuine shootin' war on the Kashmiri border. The Pakistani team claim they won't be safe playing in India and the Australians have grossly upset both the Pakistani and Sri lankan cricketing publics of late, to the point of death threats. Wow. Just as well everyone likes our fellas, eh?
There is warmth and cameraderie aplenty to the left of our political spectrum, too. Well, that might be going a bit far, but Jim Anderton is now conceding he could live in a Labour coalition which kept the Reserve Bank Act. Someone may have convinced him that, whatever its faults, limitations and iniquities, scrapping the Reserve Bank Act would send the economy down the gurgler quite quickly. Oddly enough, this puts him theoretically to the right of the former Right of Centre Party, whose leading light is now the intellectual giant Trevor Rogers. Anderton is still insisting he'll push for the financial transactions tax, the treasured idea of those fun-loving dweebs, the Democrats, but I'll believe that when I see it. Get rid of the Democrats, drag Rod Donald up the ranks and I might even like the Alliance.
Meanwhile, we face a Waitangi Day where much of the action will not be at Waitangi. After last year's events this was inevitable, especially given the government's desperate desire to keep its nose clean in election year. It is objectionable? Well, it's better than what Muldoon used to do - encourage and provoke confrontation so he could demonstate his will to power. We've come a ways since those days.
But things are not entirely rosy. This week's decision to give the contract for five hours a day of nationally networked Maori news, in Maori, to Mai FM, borders on the bizarre. I admire Mai FM, but it presently has no track record, no suitable employees and even no intention of taking the service it has contracted to provide. The contract was awarded not by the government but by Te Mangi Paho, the Maori broadcasting funding agency - and it bears out what Maori broadcasters have been saying about the agency for a year or more.
See, the government set up Te Mangi Paho with the determination to avoid vested interests. So it stacked the agency with people with no current ties to Maori broadcast ventures. Unfortunately, that meant people who didn't know much about broadcasting at all. Add the spice of the power-tripping Ripeka Evans and you have one unhappy broadcast sector. And a nice idea gone wrong. Trouble is, who's going to fix it?
And from the unfortunate to the downright creepy. Ross Bolton, who some of you may know as an anti-abortion nutter of many years' standing, and his wife Jennifer, had their particular brand of Christian kindness exposed this week. So important was their church-based anti-abortion meeting that they left their 10-year-old son at home for hours to attend it. Trouble was, the 10 year-old had both legs in plaster. His only means of locomotion was to drag himself around the house. Yet God's messengers left him out of reach of food, drink or the toilet. Their own son. Eventually, the boy became so anxious he called the police. Scumsuckers.
Now Hard News wouldn't be complete without a weekly bulletin from the Ministry of Idle Promises. Last year, Lockwood Smith announced that he was a great bloke and minister because all parents of special needs kids would be able to choose to have their children mainstreamed. A really good thing - but it was going to cost a bit more than dragging them together in special schools. The minister didn't mention this bit - and only now he's come up with three million more dollars to cover it. He wants praise for this. It's my belief that all the parents and schools who spent the past few months wondering what the hell they were going to do because their special needs grants had been cut or scrubbed altogether deserve Smith's head on a plate.
Well, that'll do for now. I'll go home and sulk about not getting an invite to the casino opening. My interest in gambling stops at a five dollar lucky dip, two lines of strike and the change in scratchies of a Saturday, but knowing I'm not in Auckland's 3000 most wanted is quite a blow. Still, I've got a VIP thingy for Cricket Max next week - and I'm sure that'll be better for my health.
G'bye!== == Russell Brown [ @ / @ ] firstname.lastname@example.org / ________________________________________ (_) "The views expressed on this programme ____) are bloody good ones." Fred Dagg, 197? _________________________________________ |||
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