Russell Brown's HARD NEWS

29th March 1996

Copyright © 1996 Russell Brown

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the past is a foreign country -they do things differently there. No, I can't recall who said that, but my own past has certainly loomed large to me lately. For one thing, I now officially have a small chance of my brain rotting at some point in the future, having lived in Britain in the mid-80s and eaten beef. Not a lot of beef, mind you -but that vile kebab I had one drunkne night in New Cross might just have been an even worse idea than it seemed the next day. I won't know if I do have Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease for another 30 years or so, which is, really what makes the whole thing so delightful. Meat is murder, right?

As if that weren't enough, I've also confirmed what I have suspected for a couple of weeks. Multiple sex thug Stewart Murray Wilson was my neighbour. It was more than 10 years ago, but I can confirm he was both mad as a snake and persuasive in a weird, unnerving way. I once actually slept the night at his flat after being locked out of mine, so suppose I can thank my lucky stars I'm male. Neither I nor anyone else had any idea of the nastiness in which Wilson was already engaged, but the hindsight of is a strange thing.

Phew. Well, at least I didn't have to go to the petrol station. Isn't it bizarre what we've come to? That anyone with a car which needs Premium Unleaded actually gratefully counts the days when it doesn't need to filled up? And then the day comes, you pull up to the pump. There's a notice there: saying that what you're getting may be a mixture of leaded Super, old Premium Unleaded, and, well, anything, really. Before you fill up, demands the notice, have you done this list of things to your car in the last 10 minutes? If you haven't gone over your car with a fine-toothed comb and a geiger counter, then it's your fault when it bursts into flames, pal.

And, also, there was politics. The Labour Party released its tax and superannuation policy -and, to say the least, it's a lot better than National's. Ironically, I personally would appear to earn just enough that National's scheme would actually do better for me, but I'd still go for the greater equity of Labour's plan. If you're going to make tax cuts, you cut the bottom rate and raise the threshhold at which it's paid. That's only sensible.

More imaginatively, Labour will dump the superannuation surtax in favour of something which harks back to the long-lost Kirk government super scheme. The first eight cents of every income tax dollar will go to a dedicated Superannuation Fund, kept separate from other government funds and administered by a board. Nice enough, but I think it's quite absurd to promise that Age Concern, Grey Power and the RSA would be allowed to help pick that board. (a) it's us young folk who'd depend on wise investment by such a board, not the grumpy pensioner lobby, and (b) it was old people who dropped us in this mess by taking Muldoon's unsustainable superannuation bribe in the first place. Can the elderly refrain from another bidding war for their affections? Let's hope so.

Still, this is a big one for Labour. It's policy - and policy of the kind of depth and detail that not all parties can generate. New Zealand First, for example, can say all it wants, but it simply has no apparatus for creating real policy. That's one reason why Labour would like to be a few points clear of its prospective coalition partner in the polls. And Labour is hoping two more major policy releases -on health and education - will put it there.

At the very least, it would be hoping that lazy broadcast journalists could stop declaring everything the party does as "the last chance for Helen Clark's leadership." And how many times have the same people declared that this was the "last chance" for Mike Moore to break away and form his own party? Get some new advice, people.

But one party did bring in a new leader and new policy this week - ACT. Richard Prebble was duly elected and then told his fellow party members that they hadn't a snowball's chance unless they dropped their zero income tax policy, because the public didn't believe in it. Uh, okay Richard, chorused the party of the new gold dream, we'll make that a flat tax policy, right? Right. Now go away and completely redraw your education, health and welfare policies, which were all predicated on there being no income tax, you silly little right-wingers. And your new logo sucks too.

And, okay, hands up who voted for David Olsen for the Auckland Regional Council. Were you aware that he was a total boofhead? On top of his his brilliant idea of putting tollgates on all the regional parks, he now wants to start selling the parks. His other great causes currently include a move to scrap student bus passes. What a guy.

Still, at least one regional asset is about to start paying again - yes, Ericsson Stadium will once more be ringing to the Warriors' drums and the roar of the crowd -assuming the supporters have been completely alienated by the legal land war of the past few months. The Warriors board can count itself lucky that its major opposition in the leisure market is the Auckland Rugby Football Union, which couldn't organise the proverbial in a brewery. I went to the Auckland Blues' first Super 12 home game this week -staggering, really.

It got more staggering the closer you got to the ground. The southern gate arrangements were absurd - a different lane for each stand, meaning a 20 metre queue at one lane, and no queue at the next one. This, remember, is all at the one gate. We had intended to go in the covered stand, but gave up and went for the West uncovered - it was match time and we weren't about to queue at the single available lane for another 15 minutes. More comedy: the young genius in the booth had to get his *calculator* to subtract 16 from 50, then the adjacent lane ran out of change. Solution: (a) Have more change (b) Make the uncovered stands $15, rather than $16, it'll be easier for everyone. These people are fools.

Playing the game at 4pm was a good idea in one way - good crowd, good atmosphere - but it must have been a nightmare for residents trying to get home. It almost seemed like a form of harassment, given that the residents are vigorously resisting lights and night games at the park.

Where's the imagination? A railway line runs *right past* the park - why not organise park-and-ride from the central city, rather than having everyone drive to the park and try and leave at rush hour? Why can't Auckland rugby try and manage the traffic - even arrange parking on the industrial land across Sandringham Road? Of course, they're also trying to get people to sign the "petition" to light Eden Park -to whom, exactly does this "petition" go? I'd love to see rugby and cricket under lights at Eden Park -but I can't help the feeling I'm lining up with the bad guys ...

Weirdly enough, it got worse inside the park. Instead of a ground announcer, Auckland rugby had thoughtfully provided two wankers from some dickhead radio station. These clowns couldn't even turn off their mic, so the whole park was repeatedly treated to their incidental conversation. And THEN ... the ref blew for an inconvenient Auckland knock-on and one of these idiots declared "Anybody else heard the ref's name is DICK!?" This is over the PA system! I sincerely hope these people will never, ever be allowed near the mic - or the ground - again.

Thank goodness, then, that the Auckland players themselves rewarded the faith of the crowd with some wonderful rugby football. The world is run by old men -and they're making a right cock-up of it.


    ==  ==      Russell Brown
  [ @ / @  ]                      
     /        ________________________________________
    (_)         "The views expressed on this programme
    ____)       are bloody good ones." Fred Dagg, 197?

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