Brian Edwards Media

Archive for October, 2011

How Phil Goff may come into his own in the televised election debates.

There’s general agreement that the three televised debates between John Key and Phil Goff scheduled to take place between now and the election could  play a significant role in changing voter perceptions of the two contenders.

Television viewers have seen a lot of Goff over the last three years primarily because he has, on principle, made himself available for cross-examination. He regards that as something any politician aspiring to the highest office in the land ought to do. Key, on the other hand, has been largely unavailable for media interviews, preferring, it would seem, to be seen rather than heard. It’s interesting that the video which preceded National’s phoney debate TV opening was a montage of the Prime Minister’s photo ops with famous people.

If the polls are anything to go by, not being available to answer questions is a more effective strategy than being available to answer questions. But it can hardly be described as a more responsible strategy.

The televised debates thus assume a particular importance since they represent the first occasion on which the PM will be available for media interrogation before a large audience and the first occasion, outside Parliament, when we will see him in a face to face encounter with Phil Goff. Read the rest of this entry »


Lazy – or just plain ignorant? Why the under-25s aren’t voting.

More than a quarter of the under-25s haven’t bothered to get themselves on the electoral roll.  Again. The media and the politicians are wailing that they’re not showing civic responsibility, that they’re not exercising their democratic right, that they don’t care about politics. Again.

Every election year we go into this chant about the irresponsibility of the young; every election year we seem surprised that the same old pattern reoccurs, as if some miracle or mind-shift might have happened in the ensuing three years.

Well, we shouldn’t be.  We should be amazed and grateful that so many young people actually do enrol and vote, because we’re giving them damnall incentive to do so.

In other democratic countries Civics is taught in secondary schools. The kids learn how government works nationally and locally, how policy is developed, how it becomes or fails to become law, and the part citizens play in determining their own future.

In New Zealand first-year Law students have to be taught all this, first-year Politics students have to be taught all this – and nobody else gets taught this at all.  So it’s not very surprising that our young people have little or no interest in politics. It’s very hard to be interested in something you don’t understand and even harder to become interested in something you know nothing worthwhile about.

Of course they always have the endless knee-jerk opinions of those around them. They may listen, may parrot, may believe. It’s what they do believe that’s the worry.  If they listen to the voices in the bars, the voices in the street and the voices in the workplace what they’re likely to hear is that politicians are rogues and vagabonds, that those in Parliament are intent on making our lives as difficult and as costly as possible and that there’s no point in voting because one lot is as bad as the other. Read the rest of this entry »


John Banks confuses Q & A with Sesame Street and (unwittingly) insults the good people of Epsom

 On yesterday’s Q&A there was widespread agreement that the voters of Epsom –  the Auckland suburb colourfully described in the programme as ‘home to champagne wishes and caviar dreams’ – were nobody’s fools.  According to former National Party Chairman, John Slater, Epsom voters were ‘intelligent people, politically astute and smart’.

Former Auckland mayoral candidate Colin Craig, leader of the newly formed Conservative Party of New Zealand, agreed:

‘Epsom voters are actually relatively intelligent voters. And I’m not sure they enjoy being taken for granted.’

Christine Fletcher, who won the  seat for National in 1996 with a massive majority, wasn’t sure either. ‘The people of Epsom,’ she said, ‘won’t be told what to do.’

What the people of Epsom are being told to do – by John Key, Don Brash, John Banks and, though not in so many words, by the  National Party candidate, Paul Goldsmith, is to give their electorate vote to ACT’s Mr Banks  and not to Mr Goldsmith, who will get in on the National Party list anyway. That’s if they want to ensure that National stays the Government in November and John Key the Prime Minister.

The polite term for this is ‘strategic voting’. True-blue Epsom voters were reasonably willing to do it in 2008, sending Rodney Hide and ACT back into Parliament with five MPs but only 3.5 percent of the party vote. But a recent Herald poll suggests that for many the ‘champagne wishes and caviar dreams’ may no longer include Mr Banks or ACT.  Read the rest of this entry »


Mens sana in corpore sano: Why I don’t much like Trev’s recipe for Kiwi kids.

As a kid I hated sport, both looking at it and playing it. Looking at it I could just about tolerate, but as an activity,  sport – any sport – was for me a torture.

Kids who hate playing sport generally aren’t very good at sport. And it’s probably a truism that people don’t get enjoyment from taking part in activities they aren’t good at. I could not kick a ball, throw a ball, hit a ball, catch a ball. I could neither run nor jump. I was hopeless. Being hopeless isn’t fun.

I also had no interest in doing any of these things. I was physically non-competitive, the rational outcome of always losing and of being a fearful child, frightened of being hurt by an oncoming cricket ball or an oncoming front row forward.

I was particularly frightened of rugby. Crashing into other boys on a muddy paddock for an hour was my idea of hell and I refused to do it. But rugby was compulsory at our school and my mother’s pleading that Brian was a delicate little boy fell on deaf ears. The only permitted alternative to rugby was to join the Combined Cadet Force.

I joined. But the uniform felt rough, and the boots hurt, and the .303 was heavy and dug into my shoulder and I would not take orders from anybody. I was eventually allowed to turn up at rugby but not actually play. “You can sit on the sideline and study, Edwards, till the game is over.” Nirvana had arrived. Read the rest of this entry »


Just in case the world is getting you down…


Bomber Bradbury – a gutless reaction by Radio New Zealand that smacks of political hypersensitivity.

I’ve only just caught up with the transcript of what it was that Martyn ‘Bomber’ Bradbury said on National Radio’s Afternoons programme that got him banned from the programme. Here’s the text of the offending passage:

“What does a $43 million loan to Mediaworks buy you on Radio Live – apparently an hour of John Key avoiding answering any questions on politics. Why pay Mediaworks $43 million for that, when John Key can appear on Close Up and not answer questions for free.

…“Radio Live didn’t offer any other political leader an hour of free talkback and went on to claim that allowing the Prime Minister to host an hour of radio minus any hard questions at all about his policy isn’t political. Which is kinda like arguing that allowing George W Bush to write editorials in the New York Times about his favorite cake recipe during the invasion of Iraq isn’t ‘political’.

“Radio Live say it’s because of electoral law that John Key couldn’t answer questions on politics. Really? Put Key in there for an hour with an interviewer and ask him questions, that would have side stepped those issues, but to give him an hour where he gets to hide behind a ‘no politics’ zone on the very day our credit was downgraded is simply disgraceful!

… “And John Key’s attempt yesterday to blame the Labour Party for a man’s attempted self harm in Parliament is a new low, even for Parliament.

“Yelling, “It’s your fault, it’s your fault” while making a throat slashing gesture at Phil Goff (as a man with mental health issues dangled from Parliaments balcony) is the sort of ravings one expects from a meth addict on a bender, not the political leader of a country.

“Topping this nonsense off is Key’s excuse that he was actually talking about Labour’s criticism of his over spending on the Diplomatic Protection service?

“What could justify making a throat slashing gesture at Phil Goff for an event that had all the implications of an attempted suicide if the guy had actually fallen? What a lovely little piece of work our Prime Minister is when he is caught off guard.”

I know a bit about Afternoons. I’m a regular on ‘The Panel’, usually with my good friend and mortal political enemy, Michelle Boag. We were in fact the very first Panel when the show started in September 2005.  Read the rest of this entry »


Bouquets and Brickbats (An Occasional Series)







 Don Brash who took the only rational position possible when he said that cannabis use should be decriminalised. Not politically smart (possibly) but better than the politically expedient and unthinking position of both Labour and National.

Rodney Hide who, in a ‘valedictory’ interview with Sean Plunkett on last week’s The Nation, offered a fine demonstration of the seemingly impossible political art of giving straight answers to straight questions. To my own astonishment, I found him impressive.

Annette King for refusing to back down after she (and Trevor Mallard) called John Key a ‘scumbag’. Key had implied that Labour had some responsibility for an incident in which 54-year-old man tried to hurl himself from the first-floor public gallery into the debating chamber. The implication was outrageous and King’s and Mallard’s epithet entirely justified.

Roger Douglas and Jim Anderton who, in conversation with Paul Holmes on Q and A, looked back on their political careers and on the personal and philosophical animosity which was at the heart of their relationship during the ‘Rogernomics’ years. Though both stuck to their political guns, there was no sense of current bitterness. Indeed the exchange was positively warm.

John Armstrong, the Herald’s chief political commentator, whose no-frills analysis of parliament and its cast of players is invariably right on the nose and whose slip rarely, if ever, shows.

Maori TV for its superb coverage of the Rugby World Cup.

TV1 and SPP for Nothing Trivial. Better than Outrageous Fortune, I reckon.

The Silver Ferns just for being wonderful.  Read the rest of this entry »


Why I want to change the rules of netball and what it has to do with Maria Tutaia and the Rugby World Cup.


 In the last couple of weeks I’ve watched three international rugby matches, from the superb choir singing the national anthems, to the final interviews with the winning and losing captains. You may think this is barely worth mentioning. Tens of thousands of Kiwis are doing the same thing. But it’s remarkable for me. And it’s even more remarkable that I found myself shouting abuse at Welsh referee Nigel Owens when he red-carded Samoan fullback Paul Williams. ‘Get some glasses, boyo, and a pair for your half-blind assistant while you’re at it!’  I don’t normally behave like this. Wild horses wouldn’t get me to a rugby match.

 [See also ]

The problem is that I’ve got a low boredom threshold. There’s too much time in rugby spent falling down in a heap and pushing and shoving,  and not enough time spent hurtling diagonally across the paddock towards the opponents’ goal line or landing an impossible kick between the uprights. Though I abhor violence, a bit of biffo can be quite entertaining as well.

No, my  sporting heroes are not Richie McCaw or Dan Carter or Sonny Bill Williams or Ma’a Nonu or Richard Kahui or… well, you get the picture. My sporting heroes are Casey Williams and Temepara George and Laura Langman and Anna Scarlett and Maria Tutaia and Irene van Dyk and Ruth Aitken of course. I’m a netball freak.   Read the rest of this entry »


Dan Carter models new line in Jockey undies after groin injury – Picture!


Looking for a good time? Hang out with a few pensioners!

Today is the World Health Organisation’s ‘International Day of Older Persons’.  There are a lot of us – 600 million over-sixties world-wide. The figure will double to  1.2 billion by 2025 and reach two billion by 2050.  We’re part of a demographic revolution – a force to be reckoned with.

In New Zealand,  Age Concern is marking this as ‘Awareness Week’ with celebrations around the country.  

Not everybody will be celebrating. A survey of New Zealanders over 50 conducted by housing charity Abbeyfield and the Auckland University of Technology found that about a third of respondents had experienced age discrimination. A third is a lot.

But the news wasn’t all bad. 85.5% thought other people viewed them as younger than they really were, with only 2% thinking they were older. That’s my experience and the experience of a number of my ‘elderly’ friends. The commonest thing said to Judy and me (Judy’s quite a bit younger) on our  daily walk around Ponsonby/Herne Bay is, ‘Gosh you two are looking really great!’ We ignore the tone of surprise and accept the compliment for what it is.  Read the rest of this entry »