Russell Brown's HARD NEWS

26th June 1998

Copyright © 1998 Russell Brown

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well, the government spat in the face of democracy again this week, doing a deal with its two caucuses on electricity reform which effectively neutered the select committee process. Max Bradford has his way, and anyone who thought it was worth making public submissions these days should get real.

The Treasurer meanwhile began the week by making a complete arse of himself, holding a press conference where he declared that "slash-and-burn" public budget spending cuts would not solve anything - and then 10 minutes later denied having said anything of the sort. Sigh ... he finished the week by meeting with the mysterious men from Moodys, who are of a mind to downgrade out international credit rating. Was this really a good idea?

In the wacky world of the money markets - which was nicely captured in Warren Gamble's fly-on-the-trading-floor story for the Herald - a better-than-expected current account result cheered everyone up. And then some shitty trade figures the next day let all the air out again.

We sent Peter Mwai to die in a Kenyan gutter only hours after his release from prison. Mwai had unprotected sex with five women when he knew he had HIV, and he ruined their lives. But he also has a seven year old daughter here, and what happened to Christian charity anyway? I felt bad about that.

Actually, this is all pretty bad stuff. Hard News tends to be, from week to week, a load of bellyaching. That, I have deduced, is what people like about it. Chris Knox once described it to me as a "blast of foul, garlic-encrusted breath". In Grey Lynn, that's a compliment.

But those who know me will also know that this is not indicative of my overall outlook on life. I strive to perceive beauty wherever it lies and to enjoy the company of friends and family. I try, where possible to be of good cheer.

Hence, as we stagger through the badlands of recession, I think we are due some reasons to be cheerful. There follow some random incidences of cheer-enhancing activity. This is not a comprehensive list, so if you feel that you are doing or know of something that should be making me cheerful, and I don't mention it, be assured that I'm with you in spirit.

In the government, there's Don McKinnon, whose poise and determination as foreign affairs minister helped bring peace to Bouganville. In Labour, there's the gay, English and basically cool MP Tim Barnett, in the Alliance there's the Pam Corkery Effect, in New Zealand First Tu Wyllie and in United, well, there's only Peter Dunne, and he's quite good? I'm sorry, but no one from Act gives me cheer at the moment.

And a moment please for Sir Hugh Kawharu, Ngati Whatua's statesmanlike silver fox. Compare this guy to the bunch of boofheads serving as mayors in Auckland and consider who you'd rather have represent you. Ditto for Brian Rudman, whose column in the Herald frequently provides the sharpest commentary on our woebegotten local politics.

This warm, warm winter probably has its roots in some unspeakably terrifying climatic happening, but you've gotta love it, don't you? Especially if you're a fugitive from Paremoremo hiding out in the bush in Coromandel.

Let's hear it for the beaches too, even in winter. I half expect one of those National Party scumbags like Luxton or Bradford to have a go at the Queen's Chain one of these days. That, of course, would be war. The safest thing is probably to get them both out of government.

From the sea, of course, comes the fresh kai moana, something you don't really appreciate until you've eaten fish in certain other places in the world. Grown-ups can wash that down with some of the finest, most vivid white wines in the world. Cheers to that.

On the telly, it cheers me immensely the Frontline, the Aussie one, is finally getting a proper run, and I've been struck by how watchable the various "yoof" shows are getting.

How nice, also, that the New Zealand Maori rugby team should thrash the touring English team even as The New Zealand Wars is screening. James Belich's series itself is reason for cheer, even if - or perhaps because -it doesn't have any dramatic reconstructions.

On the tuneful tip, the new records from Che Fu and King Kapisi, do it for me locally, and the bodies of work of Sun Ra and Sonia Pottinger, two underappreciated beauty vendors, are pretty much always in my heart.

Actually, I finally got a look this week at the NZIER Report that the government used to justify its parallel importing putsch on copyright holders. And if nothing else it's an excellent measure of what economists don't know. The author studied compact disks as if they were just so many shiny little ashtrays . Of real-world impacts on real people who love music there's virtually nothing.

So let's hear it then for talented people of all stripes. They're good to be around and I feel enriched by the ones I know. But let's not get into some pathetic retarded adolescent Ayn Rand thing here. I always thought it was so lame that in her stupid book, 'Atlas Shrugged', all the great artists, engineers and moneymakers take themselves off to a new society - but forget to take all the great mothers and great friends, not to mention the great plumbers who'll unblock their great toilets.

Anyway, time to wrap up and go and make some money. So give thanks and praise for the right drugs at the right time and place - medicinal, social and recreational - for dancing, for the West Lynn shops, for my family, my house and everyone else's, for the people in missions and foodbanks and police and emergency forces who do jobs you and I couldn't do, and David Russell of the Consumer's Institute, who I find it so easy to trust, for my Macintosh and the Internet and kids getting presents and dogs catching frisbees, and diversity, which enriches us all, and rock and roll in its broadest, most generous sense and, of course, 95 bFM. Perhaps, as the recently reborn Mr Fred Dagg says, we really don't know how lucky we are


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

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