Russell Brown's HARD NEWS

30th August 1996

Copyright © 1996 Russell Brown

The Web Version of The Hard News is made available
by NZ Now Net

HardNews Home

1996 Hard News


HARD NEWS is first broadcast in Auckland on 95bFM around 9.30am on Fridays and replayed around 5.15pm Friday and 10am Sunday on The Culture Bunker. You can listen to 95bFM live on the Internet. Point your web browser to You will need an MP3 player. Currently New Zealand is 12 hours ahead of GMT.

HARD NEWS is also available in MP3 form from and in text form at You can subscribe to the 95bFM Hard News mailing list at


you're on the edge ... no, you're right over the edge and into free-fall. You're desperate, alienated, barely human. So what do you do? You call Paul Holmes on his radio show, who puts you on air so everybody else can hear how terminally messed up you really are.

Such was the strange story of John Grant Fagan, who flipped out, discharged a shotgun in the girls changing rooms of his place of work, Northcote College, and spent a night on the loose. What makes it really odd is that this isn't the first time a crazed and potentially dangerous person has made a call to Mr Holmes part of his own personal thunderstorm of the soul. Why do their do it? And if they happened to wig out in the afternoon, when Holmes takes a wee nap between jobs, would they consider ringing Chris Carter or Wayne Mowatt?

Whatever, Holmes's plan to take a camera crew to Auckland airport and meet and greet the crazy man fell over when an airport security guard got there first. I guess that's one hell of an exclusive gone to waste.

Only two nights, later, West Auckland had its own crazy media gun drama; this time one which went on for a good long time so everybody could get there and get pictures. A woman - in the course of smoking, drinking and laughing - was holding up a shopkeeper with a knife. Very slowly, as it happens, because it was an hour before a police officer shot her in the arm and shoulder.

Does the fact he disabled the offender without actually killing her mean he was a better or worse shot than his comrades who dealt to Terence Thompson? That's rhetorical. I am merely reminded of the immortal words of a dear old duck in Invercargill after yet another of that strange burg's serial episodes episodes of violent weirdness: "It's getting," she said. "More like Auckland every day." And who among us in Auckland could disagree that that's the case.

Better that than getting more like Wellington - which paradoxically got less like Wellington this week as Parliament rose and the members dispersed. Not just any old Parliament - but the very last one to be constituted under the First Past the Post electoral system. There were 45 pieces of legislation which didn't get through and will be considered by the next Parliament - whatever that may look like.

The campaigning has begun, of course; even on TV. We are currently witnessing three ad campaigns which masquerade as something other than the political beasts they are. There is the return of the return of the hand gestures from hell, aka ACT leader Richard Prebble telling us about his scruffy little book. There is the Employers' Federation, urging us not to go back, or throw it away, or throw back or go away or something. Throw up, perhaps?

The Employers' ads matter because only one major party - National - is committed to leaving the Employment Contracts Act untouched, which is what the employers want. The other side is held up by a smaller campaign by the Engineers' Union, of which I'm proud to be a member. Yep, the journalists are Engineers now - and I think the "super union" concept is the only way forward.

Sign of the times - being a member of the Engineers entitles you to cheap deals with the Wine Society. Is this chardonnay socialism? Whatever, the Engineers' leadership has reiterated support for Labour as the occasionally embattled party prepares for a rather important fray.

The Alliance plumped for saving a bunch of pine trees as its litmus issue last week - but although, as a Hard News correspondent who knows a bit about trees and money has pointed out, Fletchers got a fairly cheap price, there seems limited mileage in that. Labour this week has gone for the area where the polls consitently have it ahead - the health sector. This is no New Zealand First slogan, this policy - it runs to 51 pages with special sections for Maori, child and youth health, women's health, men's health, old folks and a catch-all section for other ethnic groups. It is, frankly, nerdy.

Features like free doctors' visits and prescriptions for under-fives will come to an extra $2.3 billion over three years; which is the kind of promise you can only make when you inherit a surplus. But the policy's most important feature won't cost a bean. Labour will abolish the four Regional Health Authorities, the useless, costly and antagonistic layer of bureaucracy established by National under the funder-provider theory. The theory turned to shit early on and has essentially gotten worse, but National hasn't had the guts to admit its mistake.

But, on the occasion of Labour's most crucial policy release, there will no doubt be those in the party asking this question: "What manner of arsehole is Mike Moore?" I was told a while ago that the date of the health policy release would be kept obscure, to prevent certain members of the Labour caucus sabotaging it. That didn't stop Moore from grandstanding on launch day with his own cultivated media sob-story of a man who lost caregiver benefit for his disabled son.

Labour really, really needs to haul up its party vote to the level of its electorate vote, or face the fate of seeing agenda-mongers like Moore dominate instead of the rather more attractive picture painted by its party list. I had another look at the list while checking out Labour's rather good new Website, but impressive candidtaes like Joe Hawke, Helen Duncan and Nanaia Mahuta won't get anywhere near unless Labour can stop its supporters splitting their votes.

The Alliance has zeroed in on that, if their signage in the crucial Auckland Central electorate is anything to go by. I mean, don't we have one of the Alliance's two current MPs standing again? Woman name of Lee? Yet Sandra's face is nowhere to be seen - there's only Jim Anderton glaring down from every street corner , urging us to support "the Alliance team".

Without the wild-eyed, wild-haired wahine from Waiheke, we're still left with a fairly colourful bunch - there's ACT's Rodney Hide, the fat, smiling one who works for the forces of darkness. There's Shayne Frith - who once described himself to me as "a young person". Earnest, dedicated, well-groomed and Internet-connected; someday all young men will be like Shayne. Well, the ones in Young Nats will.

There's some bloke from the Christian Coaltion who probably won't get the church vote and doesn't even want the gay vote. And there's Labour's Judith Tizard, whose party will need her demonstrated ability to foster goodwill for Labour wherever she goes. her former electorate, Panmure, which disappears under MMP, was the only part of Auckland where Labour local body candidates not only stood, but increased their share of the vote last time around.

One candidate we don't have is the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party. I won't be voting for the ALCP, but I do have a lot of respect for what they're doing - which is, starting from scratch, pursuing an issue through democratic means and signing people up to a properly consituted party.

On to other forms of vice - and the Vegas Girl, whose breasts have dangled pertly over Karangahape Road for 20 years, is to be taken down from the perch where she has, surely, seen so much. It does seem a bit odd; you'd think after two decades her power to offend would have dissipated. People have already begun cursing politically correct new-age nazis - but the fact is the complaint come from the very old-fashioned Philip Smits, a rather odd man whose tirelessness in the pursuit of smut verges on the vexatious. Hell, it's not like it matters that much either way.

It certainly doesn't matter as much as the fact that the 1996 All Blacks have done something no All Blacks have ever done before - won a test series in South Africa. After 68 years of trying, they've done it. The hosts' response has highlighted a number of serious flaws in Afrikaaner national character, but that's their problem, not ours. So, will the lads, injury-hit and all, just cut loose in their tenth and final test of the season.?Or will they be so knackered that they'll be happy to get out alive and intact? Find out by joining myself, Lee Stensness, Roy the Lawyer and Paula Davy at about 2.30 on Sunday morning for the 95bFM alternative test commentary


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

[ HardNews Home ] [ 1996 Hard News ] [ Subscribe ]

NZ Now Net Ltd NZ News Net
Search NZ News Net
Write to NZ News Net
Last update: 30 August 1996

Text Copyright © 1996 Russell Brown.
Formatting Copyright © 1996 NZ News Net