Brian Edwards Media

Archive for July, 2010

10 Questions and Answers About What Chris Carter Did


Q.   Were you surprised by Carter’s  action today?

A.    I think ‘gobsmacked’ is the only word to describe my reaction.

Q.   Why do you think Carter did what he did?

A.    A mixture of two things, I suspect: a genuine belief that Labour cannot win under Goff and bitterness at the humiliation he suffered when Goff forced him to make a second public apology over his travel spending. At the time I described this as Goff ‘taking his pound of flesh”. That is still my view.

Q.   How would you describe Carter’s actions?

A.    Utterly stupid and hugely damaging to his personal reputation.

Q.   Is he right that there is widespread dissatisfaction in the Labour caucus with Goff’s performance as Leader?

A.    My understanding is that there is widespread dissatisfaction with his performance in the polls.

Q.   Is Carter right that a majority of the Labour caucus doubt that Labour can win the next election?

A.    That is my information.

Q. Doesn’t the unanimous caucus vote to suspend Carter indicate that the entire caucus is behind Goff?

A.    Not at all. Anyone who voted not to suspend Carter would effectively have been declaring that they agreed with his view that Goff could not hope to win the election. Anything other than a unanimous vote would have had the Press Gallery hunting to find the disaffected.

Q.   Can Goff win the next election?

A.    Probably not. But the honeymoon is definitely ending. The electorate is beginning to see Key’s shameless, give-them-anything-they-want populism as weak leadership. And the promise of ‘catching up with Australia’ already looks hollow.

Q:   Did Goff do the right thing in sacking Carter?

A.   Yes, it was the only thing he could do.  Carter’s action was disloyal to the party and intended to be damaging to  its leader.

Q.   Will these events be damaging to Goff’s leadership?

A.    On the contrary, they will probably strengthen his position as Leader and his image in the eyes of the public. He will be seen as decisive and strong.

Q.   What chance has Carter of winning Te Atatu as an Independent or Independent Labour candidate?

A.    None. Labour voters are Labour voters. Their loyalty is first and foremost to the Party.


I’m being divorced – by Telecom!

Dear Telecom

You may remember that I bought one of your WorldMode Roaming phones a couple of years back before Brian and I went to Europe. It was the latest technology and it cost me an arm and a leg, but it allowed me to happily text back and forth to New Zealand from the TGV and phone friends in France for less than using a local phone booth.

You’ve now been calling me regularly for months urging me to “upgrade” to the XT network. I’ve got very good reasons for turning down your kind offers. Here they are:

  • My GSM phone works in Vietnam. Brian’s nice new XT phone doesn’t.
  • My GSM phone works in Cambodia. Brian’s nice new XT phone doesn’t.
  • My GSM phone works in Rarotonga. Brian’s nice new XT phone doesn’t.

So far the only places we’ve been that Brian’s nice new XT phone has worked are Singapore, Sydney and Brisbane. (I’d say “Australia”, but one of our friends can’t get his nice new XT phone to work in Melbourne.) Read the rest of this entry »


TV3 News Returns to the Trough

Last Friday, in its regular segment featuring the on-line editor’s selection of items from the channel’s website,  TV3 returned to the topic of Chris Carter:

“How to have dinner with MP Chris Carter: Find out how you can have dinner with Labour MP Chris Carter. He’s promising lots of wine.”

Viewers who went to the site, could read the following post:

Dinner with Carter, Kaiser – BYO flowers, masseuse

Trade Me bidders can win dinner with troubled Labour MP Chris Carter and his partner Peter Kaiser, but they are adamant that gifts of flowers are at the public’s expense.   

 Mr Carter and Mr Kaiser will entertain the successful bidder at their home in Te Atatu South, providing food and a “generous amount” of wine. 

On the post the pair make fun of Mr Carter’s recent problem with inappropriate spending on his ministerial credit card.

“Chris and Peter accept flowers – at your expense,” they write.

 Massages and flights to and from Auckland are also at the bidder’s expense.

In the ‘Question and Answers’ section of the post one potential bidder asks whether Mr Carter would be paying for the dinner on his Government credit card.

The pair evade the question; writing: “It’s a charity auction. Feel happy to bid if you like.”

All funds from the auction, listed on Trade Me, will go to the GABA Charitable Trust – a fund set up to support the health and welfare of New Zealand’s gay community.

Bidding for the dinner – to be held on a date agreed between the two parties – is currently at $100.

The only problem with this story is  that the following statements are entirely untrue:

- they are adamant that gifts of flowers are at the public’s expense. 

 – On the post the pair make fun of Mr Carter’s recent problem with inappropriate spending on his ministerial credit card.

 – “Chris and Peter accept flowers – at your expense,” they write.

- The pair evade the question, writing, “It’s a charity auction. Feel happy to bid if you like.” Read the rest of this entry »


A Comment from Michele, who has Terminal Cancer

The following comment on ‘The Doctor and the Right to Die’ came from Michele. I thought it expressed very well the core issue in the debate over voluntary euthanasia and that it deserved to be on the front page of this site.

I, like Dr Pollock have terminal cancer. Mine is metastatic breast cancer. Some of you might have offered your opinions from a terminal illness perspective, but I feel the majority have not. What most of you do not understand, and unless you are in our position, cannot possibly comprehend, is that what we are fighting for is what everyone wants out of life – to be in control. Which is why, upon adulthood we are trusted to manage our income, our livelihood, our children’s upbringing, chose where we live and what we wear, sometimes well, and sometimes not so well, and why I feel outraged that we are not given the ultimate responsibility, and that is to manage our death as well. Yes, there need to be controls, a doctor and lawyer appointed, but no one should veer from the point that what defines a civilised society is how we treat and help people who are less fortunate. To have a terminal illness, for me, falls in to that category and I applaud Dr Pollock for putting himself in the public arena. I’m sure he would much prefer to be spending all the time he has left, privately, with his loved ones and not feeling that he has to wage such a public fight.


In case you wondered what Hillary and Mike do in the ad breaks…

Those boring ad breaks – how do you  fill in the time? 

Erudite conversation? Thespian bickering? Or perhaps something like this…


The Doctor and the Right to Die

Photo: Paul Escourt

Tuesday’s  Close Up programme featured a compelling and moving interview with John Pollock MB, ChB, MRCP[UK], FRNZCGP. Sixty-one-year-old Dr Pollock is a general practitioner. He is in the business of saving lives. But Dr Pollock, who has never smoked, is suffering from terminal lung cancer and wants the right to seek help to end his own life before his suffering becomes unbearable to him and, more importantly, to his family. To offer him that help would, under current New Zealand law, be a crime.

Yesterday the New Zealand Herald reprinted a letter which Dr Pollock had written earlier to the magazine New Zealand Doctor. In it he presents his arguments for the legalisation of voluntary euthanasia in this country. It is well worth reading.

I support Dr Pollock in his bid to have assisted voluntary euthanasia made legal for terminally ill patients in New Zealand. My argument follows.  Read the rest of this entry »


Old Time Music Hall from New Zealand Television News


Many years ago, when I was running the television modules at the AUT,  I invited Tom Parkinson, former Head of Entertainment with TVNZ and one of the driving forces behind TV3, to give a guest lecture to some of my senior students. I assumed he would talk about Light Entertainment, but his theme was the remarkable similarity in structure between network television news and the  old time  music hall.  It was mostly about placement: where in the programme you put the starring acts (major stories), second tier acts (less major stories), intermissions (commercial breaks), comedy acts (funny stories), high wire acts (dramatic stories), pre-intermission acts (teasers),  heart-warming acts (human interest stories) and so on.  ‘Make ‘em laugh, make ‘em cry, make ‘em wait.’ It was a fascinating lecture and the exactness of the analogy was remarkable.

I don’t think it was Tom’s intention to suggest that the actual content of the television news bulletin should be the same as the content of a music hall bill, but I’m starting to feel that that is where we are inexorably going. Our news-reading duos increasingly look like comedy double acts. Read the rest of this entry »


The Week that Was – On Camera

The fine art of persuasion is never as tested as it is on television. Passionate advocates for causes, ideologies and organisations are placed in an alien environment and asked to form, change or reinforce our opinions in a few short minutes. The result  often has less to do with the worthiness of the message than the performance of the advocate.

If you want excellent examples of a) how not to do this and b) how to do it extremely well, you only have to look at a couple of examples from the box this week both, incidentally, delivered by academics:

On The Nation last weekend, Dr Rod Carr from the University of Canterbury put forward the notion that public funds should be directed towards education, particularly tertiary education, rather than supporting ‘the old,  the sick and the dying’.  As a long-term societal argument it may have intellectual merit – in the budget before last the government pumped $1.2 billion into the latter and only $300 million into education – but as delivered by Dr Carr it did not persuade me. Instead I was led inexorably towards the conclusion that both the man and his views were far too Prussian for my taste.  

Contrast this with the performance of Dr Phil Bishop, a senior teaching fellow and ‘frogologist’ from Otago University on Close Up. The plight of the endangered Archey’s Frog has never concerned me in the past. I’ve skipped over headlines and ignored stories. However, this charismatic champion of the tiny frog won me over completely, and I’ll be with him, sitting in front of the bulldozers, if mining in the Coromandel threatens their habitat.

The difference lay not in the merit of their arguments, it lay in their ability to persuade the viewer of that merit. One was cool, aloof and superior; one was charming, humorous and  quietly passionate. I care a great deal more about education than I do about frogs, but a good performer can change the way we feel and sometimes the right spokesperson on paper is altogether the wrong one on camera.


It’s Time to Ban the Pit Bull and all its Relatives


Photo: Brett Phibbs

Another kiddie mauled by a Pit Bull! We’re slow learners in New Zealand, aren’t we? It doesn’t matter how many children have their faces torn off, how many adults are ripped to pieces, we still think it should be legal to own dangerous breeds like  the American Pit Bull Terrier, the  Dogo Argentino, the Brazilian Fila and the American Tosa.  It shouldn’t. All of these breeds should be banned and there should be heavy penalties for owning them. Want the facts about the Pit Bull? Well here they are:  

The Pit Bull was originally developed in the United States. Its breeding characteristics were strength, aggression and the ability to fight. Not surprising really, since that was the purpose for which the dog was being bred – to fight other dogs.  

All of this was known 23 years ago, when an ad in the Herald offered New Zealanders imported Pit Bull puppies for sale. The Auckland SPCA opposed the importation of the breed, on the grounds that the dogs were dangerous and unpredictable. It was unsuccessful.   Read the rest of this entry »


Entire Script of Final Episode of ‘Outrageous Fortune’ found at Henderson Tip!



A copy of the complete script of the final episode of Outrageous Fortune was discovered this morning by a vagrant fossicking through the Henderson tip.  In  an extraordinary piece of serendipity, the vagrant turned out to be a close relative of mine and passed the script on to me. He naturally expected a reward, so I gave him the money for a trim flat white and sent him on his way. My offer to return the script unread to South Pacific Pictures in return for a part as a gynaecologist in Shortland Street was rejected, so I am publishing the main points of the script here:  Read the rest of this entry »


Shouldn’t This Fellow Be Hosting ‘Close Up’ Every Night?

Mike Hosking was standing in for Mark Sainsbury on last night’s Close Up. I haven’t always been a fan of Mr Hosking’s interviewing style, but each time he appears on Close Up my respect for him grows.

A useful litmus test for judging a television host or interviewer is how comfortable they make you feel watching them. If their presentation or questioning make you feel as though you’re watching an amateur high-wire walker making his debut between two New York skyscrapers in a high wind, you can be reasonably certain that the interviewer really isn’t very good and his career may  fall to earth sooner rather than later.

If, on the other hand, your sense of being in safe hands allows you to concentrate fully on the subject of the debate or interview, rather than on how the host is doing, you can be reasonably certain that you’re watching a skilled professional. This is the feeling I get with Mike Hosking – nothing is going to go wrong.  Read the rest of this entry »


I’m Not Finished With Duncan Garner Yet

I’m not finished with Duncan Garner yet. Having just caught up with TV3’s Political Editor hosting Saturday’s (and Sunday’s) The Nation, I’ve got quite a lot more to say about the man whose interviewing skills I dismissed as nonexistent a couple of months ago and whose suitability for his job I have more recently questioned.

On the basis of his showing on The Nation over the weekend, I conclude:

*That Garner is extremely good ‘to camera’. He looks comfortable and relaxed and conveys a natural authority. He ‘comes through the lens’. These are rare enough qualities among television presenters and both TV1 and TV3 currently have newsreaders less professional  in their delivery than Garner.  Read the rest of this entry »


Curmudgeon Comments on Cafe Crimes in Ponsonby/Herne Bay

We went for lunch today to one of our favourite haunts, the Blake Street Cafe in Ponsonby. A pleasant atmosphere and wonderful food cooked by owner/chef Shelley. The place was packed with only one table free in a rather dark corner, not really to our liking on a sunny but miserably cold day. Co-owner and maitre d’, Andre, who has the extraordinary good fortune to be married to Shelley, suggested we take that table until another came free. Shouldn’t be long, a couple of late-middle-aged matrons occupying a table for four had long since finished their coffee and were obviously on the point of leaving.

Another couple were hovering waiting for a table to come free. They hovered and we waited. The late-middle-aged matrons chatted away over their empty coffee cups, seemingly oblivious to the hovering and waiting diners. They chatted and chatted and chatted. We waited and waited and waited while the other couple hovered and hovered and hovered.  And the late-middle-aged matrons chatted and chatted and chatted some more.

Finally, as sometimes happens in cafes, more or less everyone, including the late-middle-aged matrons, got up to pay their bills and leave.  Suddenly there were lots of tables.

You’ll gather that this sort of inconsiderate behaviour really gets up my curmudgeonly nose. I don’t suggest that anyone should have to flee a restaurant or cafe the very second they’ve downed their last drop of wine or coffee. But to go on hogging a table in a busy cafe long after you’ve finished your meal is just bloody selfish. Read the rest of this entry »


And now we cross live to…

You are a reporter for the television news. You go out, shoot your story, take it back, edit it and record the soundtrack. It is neatly packaged and all ready for the six o’clock bulletin.  The newsreader could deliver the intro and go straight into it – s/he could even do the voice-over. That’s the way news used to be.

But that isn’t good enough for modern news. You,  the reporter, have to go back to the location with your camera operator and stand, shivering in the pitch black, maybe in the rain, and do your ‘live cross’.  It’s bizarre enough at the best of times.  In the depths of winter it borders on insanity.

Why do we have live crosses? Well, there are two reasons: the first is completely legitimate – the news is still happening and you are updating the item you shot earlier; the second is all about (you guessed it) ratings. Read the rest of this entry »


Mr Michael Reed QC on ‘Close Up’ – A Commentary

[On the documentary’s conclusions]

Mr Reed:  Well, I think its unadulterated rubbish. I think the programme is utterly irresponsible. And we are seriously considering a complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority against TV1 for misleading the public, causing great concern to Mr Young.

Mr Reed seems to take the position that if you call something ‘rubbish’ often enough, you will have made your case.

It’s unlikely that the BSA would uphold such a complaint. The programme presented a hypothesis or theory about a crime. Viewers are left to make up their own minds about the rightness or wrongness of that theory.

Mr Reed: If people have been watching TV3 tonight, you’d have seen Mr Young explain the whole position and he’s an utterly truthful witness.

Mr Young does not ‘explain the whole position’ in the TV3 news item. On the contrary, his answers seem rather uncertain and confused:

Mr Young: I possibly went earlier [than he had said in court] and it was a separate sales call altogether and a separate sale. There’s been two visits. You know, I did a visit in ‘91. Ian Arthur [his employee] most likely did one in ‘93. Given my experience in ‘91 with Robin Bain, I probably wasn’t that keen to go back. The reality is that there’s been two calls, two separate sales calls, and it’s been mixed up as one.  

In his court testimony, Young claimed to have visited Robin Bain three times around 1992 or 1993. He now claims that he first visited Robin in 1991,  then says that he ‘probably wasn’t that keen to go back’, apparently to explain why it was Ian Arthur who went back on 2 July 1993.

So Mr Young’s explanation of ‘the whole position’ seems to be that he ‘possibly’ made a call in 1991 and that Ian Arthur ‘most likely’ made a call in 1993 when the contract was signed, and that the two have got mixed up. So we’re missing all three calls to Robin Bain which Mr Young told the court  he made around 1992 or 1993.  Read the rest of this entry »


Gillard v. Abbott – the movie

Trailer of the next big Australian feature. Worth a quick look!


A Persuasive Defence of Robin Bain

David Bain’s defence team will have to do rather better than arrogantly dismissing Bryan Bruce’s findings in last night’s documentary on the Bain killings as ‘a load of old rubbish’.

There is general agreement that either David or his father Robin were responsible for the killings. There is no other suspect.

If David is indeed innocent, then what we are asked to believe is that on the morning of June 20, 1994 Robin Bain slaughtered four members of his family, including his 14-year-old son, Stephen, who fought desperately for his life. Robin then shot himself in the temple with the rifle he had used to kill the others. Despite this bloodbath, his hands, clothes and footwear were almost entirely free of blood, what blood there was did not come from any member of his family,  and his fingerprints were not found anywhere on the rifle.

Like Bruce, I find this scenario improbable.  Read the rest of this entry »


Of Bullies and Sensitive New Age Guys [Some free advice for Brown and Banks]

Now here’s a curious thing – when the people of Auckland tossed John Banks out as Mayor what they were looking for in a replacement was someone decent, nice, caring, maybe even just a bit saintly. And that is precisely what they got in Dick Hubbard.  But three years later they threw out the decent, nice, caring, maybe even just a bit saintly chap and brought back the not-so-decent, not-so-nice, not-so-caring and definitely not a bit saintly Mr Banks.

What had gone wrong? Well, Mr Hubbard was no less decent, nice, caring, saintly after three years than he was at the beginning. So it can’t have been that. And, though Mr Banks claimed to have turned over a new leaf, we all knew that leopards never really changed their spots and voted him back in anyway.

You see, the trouble was that Dick was a bit wishy-washy and somewhat  eccentric in the way he talked and looked and moved. He wore his religious belief on his sleeve and used high-flown words like ‘vision’ and ‘community’. He really was a nice man, but we didn’t know what to make of him. He made us feel uncomfortable and ill at ease. We’d thought he was what we wanted, but he wasn’t. Read the rest of this entry »


Women Are The Weaker Sex – Yeah Right!

Strongwoman by Jed Dougherty

 Browsing through some old papers I came across a piece I’d written some years ago about women being the weaker sex. It had been sparked by a fascinating article I’d read in The Weekend Australian about why men die younger than women. And we do – about eight years younger on average, which is a lot, and a problem not only for us men, but for our generally younger partners who find themselves widowed and alone in their late 50’s or early 60’s, with lots of living still to do. 

Why males die younger than females remains a mystery, though there is some evidence that men, and not women, are the true “weaker sex”. 

According to the article, baby boys spend more time in hospital than baby girls. They fall face-down in the bath and don’t get up more often than their little sisters.  They get burned more often than their sisters. Pre-school boys get  poisoned more often than pre-school girls. Teenage boys spend more time in hospital than teenage girls.  Adult males report more disabilities and handicaps than women and are admitted more often to hospital than their female counterparts. They have more heart-disease, more cancer and more strokes – more injuries, more shootings, more drownings, more road accidents.  

It’s a sorry picture. On any given day, a man is 60 percent more likely to die than a woman of the same age. Between 15 and 39, twice as likely. In his early twenties, three times as likely. 

So what are the reasons? Well, here are four of the commoner explanations:  Read the rest of this entry »


The Corrosive Effects of Media Repetition

Today’s Sunday Star Times features a lengthy article on what are acceptable and unacceptable topics for comedians. When does a joke go beyond the limits of humour and become merely offensive?

The question was prompted by David Fane’s recent unfortunate remarks at an advertising industry roast. No doubt no one regrets those remarks more than Fane. No one more than Fane will wish that they could be forgotten.  

But there they are again, reprinted in full in the Sunday Star Times. And in the Herald on Sunday  which, in another lengthy article, gauges the response of some of those present at the roast, of Fane’s employers, colleagues and friends.

Both articles can be justified in terms of newsworthiness and public interest. But was it necessary to reprint Fane’s remarks again in full, within the body of the article in the case of the Herald on Sunday and in a separate box in the Sunday Star Times?

Possibly. Fane’s words were the reason for the two articles and not everyone will have read those words before.

But, in a sense, the repetition adds insult to the injury which those offended by Fane’s remarks will have felt. It’s almost as if Fane had said it all again. And that, in a different sense, is unfair and injurious to Fane who has already publicly expressed his regret and with patent sincerity.  Read the rest of this entry »