Russell Brown's HARD NEWS

8th June 2001 - Mmmmm ... Meat!

Copyright © 2001 Russell Brown

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bugger the politics. Bugger the news. There's a game of rugby on. A real one, evoking traditions that were alive before Rupert Murdoch was born.

Yes, it's the New Zealand Maori versus the Wallabies and it's huge. Who needs the Super 12 anyway? The Maori have a big, strong pack and - this could be good - Carlos Spencer at fullback. The chaps will be around watching it on the big screen tomorrow night and I'll be cooking my Jamie Oliver lamb shanks. Mmmm ... meat. Organic, too!

News, if you must: the future Michael Cullen's Big Giant Super Scheme now depends on New Zealand First. The Greens have decided that they will not support it in Parlaiment. I know I bag the Greens a bit - someone's got to - but we can have no complaints here. They had a conference, they had a vote, they announced the result and they did some more of that silly-looking square dancing. No mucking about.

I fear - well, we all do, really - that the same will not be the case now that Winston's in the area. What mad project will form the price of his support? The super scheme itself is in some trouble. While the prospect has barely touched the general public, Cullen's own Budget may have done for it.

You could look at the borrowing tucked away in the budget as merely the rolling over of some maturing health sector debt - or you could look at it as Cullen borrowing the $600 million he is saving for our retirement. And if there isn't cash to save with, what show of cash for hospitals or company tax cuts? The All Black fullback isn't the only Cullen on a gammy leg.

But none of the critics appears to have a better idea - not one that will capture the imagination of the public anyway. The Greens and National are essentially taking the view that it'll probably be alright when the baby-boomers retire. And Winston can't get past that idea of individual accounts. It is not out of the question that, by the time he's finished, we may be presented with a scheme not unlike the one that we, the grumpy public, overwhelmingly rejected three years ago.

It might have been different. The Kirk government's super scheme would by now have been an unholy mess - a great hairball of a thing; controversial and endlessly altered. But it would have been paying out under its own steam.

Anyway, over to Texas, where George W. Bush's 19-year-old daughter Jenna has picked up her second underage drinking bust. But for a technicality, it would have been her third, and she'd have been facing six months jail under the insane and punitive measures against youth her Dad introduced as Governor of Texas. Yes, really. A 20-year-old who asks for a glass of wine in a restaurant can expect to be sent for alcohol counseling, first offence.

But what was truly bizarre was the Whitehouse spin doctor seeking to blur Jenna's culpability by repeatedly referring to her as a "child". She's 19. Her father has executed people younger than that.

Whatever social problems dropping the drinking age has caused here, it certainly hasn't hurt the economy. Bars and restaurants led out this week's booming retail numbers.

But they might have been quiet on Tuesday night, if the ratings for Havoc are any guide. Through the roof, apparently. And it deserved to be. It didn't all come off, but gee it's good to have some fresh ideas on the telly. And, more to the point, some funny ideas. How on earth did Rob Harley manage to labour his way through a documentary on New Zealand TV comedy -or the lack of - recently without once even mentioning Havoc?

So, anyway, I'm interviewed in The Listener this week, about Mediawatch. Sort of. I would have hoped that out of an hour's pleasant conversation there might have been something more interesting than an NBR item about me that nicked its only good line from a letter to Metro about something I never said in the first place. But apparently there wasn't. I must try harder.

Still, congratulations are in order for the author of the original letter, Guy Eller, whose line about Hard News being a "weekly application for a job with the Labour Party", whilst not being entirely original, has certainly got legs.

Guy might be a glum little chap from Kingsland - and he still apparently can't tell the difference between me and Chris the Lawyer - but on this showing he deserves further opportunities. I wonder if NBR would be clever enough to pay him to write something, rather than just nicking his best lines.

And while we're at it, did anybody else think that Hamish Low's prize-winning essay from the Auckland Writers' Festival competition - it ran in the Herald the morning after the Budget - was funnier and sharper than any of the Herald's yoof columnists have ever been? Plainly, we do not hear often enough from unemployed wasters from Mt Eden. Somebody give Hamish a job in journalism before he winds up copywriting at Colenso.

Or worse, ends up like me: "In real life, Mr 'Hard News' Brown is anything but," it says in The Listener. "He lives in a quiet West Auckland suburb, near the beach, with his partner and two kids. He is pushing 40." So not only am I a dodgy Labour voter, I'm dull, domesticated and old.

Sucked in! I'm actually a 29-year-old closet gay investment banker with a timeshare in Pauanui! All that stuff about Point Chev was just a cover story.

And Point Chev's not all that quiet anyway. Why, just last weekend, a man who had walked all the way from Newmarket on a broken leg and was in the advanced stages of amphetamine pyschosis popped round to visit my neighbour. There was assault, willful damage and a lost dog, in rapid sequence. We're keeping it real here in the inner west, I can tell you.

And I might be pushing 38 - which makes me a nipper round National Radio - but I can still go out. And, Lord, I believe I will. Whilst extending maximum respect to Greg Churchill and Steve lawler, I think I'm a rock and reggae guy tonight. The plan would be Pluto at the Kings Arms and then down the hill for some Roots Foundation. Nice. And you know what? I just might stay up all night


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

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