Brian Edwards Media

Archive for November, 2011

One law for top sportsmen, another for an ordinary mum. The injustice of it makes my blood boil!

There are only two stories on the front page of this morning’s Herald. One, headed Secrecy over ex-All Black’s child assault, occupies the left hand side of the page. The other, headed Attacked girl’s mum faces court, occupies the right hand side.

To be strictly accurate, the right hand story consists  of nine  column inches of text and a 10 x 6 inch photograph of Melissa Anderson, the mother of the attacked girl, appearing in the Waitakere District Court to face a charge of assault. Ms Anderson had slapped one of two girls who had attacked her 13-year-old daughter Summer, leaving her with a black eye, a welt on the side of her face and cuts to her eyelid.

The left hand side story begins:

Name suppression for a former All Black who yesterday pleaded guilty to child assault flies in the face of Parliament’s aims, says a legal expert.

The former rugby star is the latest in a long line of top sportsmen who have appeared in criminal courts and been allowed to keep their identities secret.

The justification for the name suppression is given later in the story:

He was reportedly given name suppression because of his standing in sporting circles and in the community as well as to protect the identity of the complainant.

Another former high-profile All Black appeared in a Wellington court last week and he, too, was given name suppression.

In that case, the 45-year-old was charged with assaulting his partner… resisting police and possession of cannabis.

The Herald goes on to list eight cases since 2002 in which prominent sportsmen were granted name suppression. The cases involved a range of offences from spousal and child assault to rape, abduction and sexual violation.  Read the rest of this entry »


The Green Party starts coalition talks with National (after Matisse)


The Post-Election Happiness Index – Find out where you belong.


I got to thinking who would be happy and who unhappy after yesterday’s election result. So I started to make a list. It’s not a complete list by any means, and you’re invited to nominate additional groups.

People happy after yesterday’s election result:

  • the rich
  • people earning over $150,000 per annum
  • speculators
  • profiteers
  • employers
  • farmers
  • polluters
  • mining companies
  • oil companies
  • foreign investors
  • people who want to sell state assets

 People unhappy after yesterday’s election result:

  • the poor
  • beneficiaries
  • the unemployed
  • food banks
  • wage and salary earners
  • public servants
  • families
  • household shoppers
  • teachers
  • nurses
  • state house tenants
  • kids branded ‘non-achievers’ under National Standards
  • conservationists
  • people who own state assets (that’s you)

People not entitled to have a view:

  • the one-in-three Kiwis who couldn’t be bothered getting off their arses to vote

 Please add to the lists!



“I AM NOW FOREIGN OWNED” (after Colin McCahon)


Win or lose, Phil Goff can stay or walk away with his head held high.


 Over the past six months Judy and I have come to know Phil Goff really well. The experience of working with him has been something of a revelation for me. We were colleagues before, when he was out of Parliament, teaching at the AUT. I didn’t warm to him. Small things can influence your view of another person, often wrongly. Phil had this swaggering walk, which suggested  arrogance. He still has it. But I have known no politician less arrogant than him. Goff is a modest man, not given to airs and graces – a part explanation perhaps of his discomfiture on television.

Looking for words to describe him, I come up with: warm, generous, kind, caring, loyal, principled, hard-working, intelligent, passionate – a decent man.

‘Passionate’ may surprise. At the beginning of the campaign it was fashionable to call him ‘robotic’. But the television debates revealed a man with a passionate commitment to social equity. Where inequity and injustice are concerned, you have to add ‘anger’ to his list of qualities.

Ironically, it was his opponent who seemed ‘robotic’ during the campaign, a smiling photo-opportunist cuddling dogs and babies, yet whose eyes showed no trace of real emotion.

But what has most impressed those working with Goff has been his extraordinary resilience in the face of polls and pundits that until very recently have branded him  ‘loser’. I can think of only one occasion when I thought he looked a little down. But it was fleeting. Phil refused to be beaten. He showed, and continues to show, enormous strength of character.

Whatever the outcome of tomorrow’s election, Phil Goff can stay or walk away with his head held high.


The Three Graces of Auckland Central (after Rafael)


In a moment of wistful contemplation, Michael Laws dreams of visiting the Herald on Sunday


TV3 provides a great debate. Goff wins. Pity about the panel!

OK, I’m one of a number of people advising Phil Goff and you’re entitled to think I’m incapable of being objective. So I’ll stick to the demonstrable facts.

I was worried about ‘the worm’. TV3 had made the indefensible decision to allow viewers at home who could afford a particular type of phone to vote on who was winning at any particular time in the debate. ‘Indefensible’ because the owners of those phones would come from a social group much more likely to support National than Labour. They then decided to combine the indefensible with the defensible – an audience of 65 uncommitted voters who would be given meters to record their preference for what each leader was saying during the debate.

Here’s the outcome: for three quarters of the debate, Phil Goff registered approval and John Key disapproval. For one part of the debate, where Goff spoke of the possibility of an arrangement with Peters, the worm favoured Key.

More significantly, the economically-biased ‘rich folks’ worm produced virtually the same result.

Those are the facts.   Read the rest of this entry »


Leadership, Followship and the Tyranny of the Focus Group


Why would a political party hoping to win an election advance policies which it knew or suspected a majority of voters wouldn’t like? The only reason I can think of is that it believed that the pursuit of those policies was in the national interest, that it was, put simply, the right thing to do.

‘The right thing to do’ may not be, and frequently isn’t, the popular thing to do. The present election provides two examples: Labour’s proposed Capital Gains Tax and its declared intention, if it wins the election, to gradually raise the retirement age to 67. Both are, in my submission, the right thing to do, but they come into conflict with the self-interest of the wealthy in the first instance and, in the second, the self-interest of those who feel cheated because the goalposts are to be  moved, however slowly, and their retirement from work deferred.

Advancing such unpopular policies makes it more difficult to get elected because it means persuading people to change their minds rather than simply giving them what they already want. It requires leadership.  Read the rest of this entry »


The Martyrdom of Saint Donald of Epsom (after Caravaggio)


Winston – the man they could not kill. (after Rembrandt))


‘Ello, ‘Ello, Ello’, I’ve come to raid your media premises on the instruction of Prime Minister Key.’ A far-fetched fantasy.

‘Ello, ‘Ello, ‘Ello, I’ve come to raid your newspaper/radio station/TV station on the instruction of my superior officer, PrimeMinister Key. So hand over the document or recording, according to whichever is in your possession.’

‘What document or recording are you referring to, officer?’

‘Now don’t play the smart-arse with me, sonny. You know very well it’s the recording illegally and criminally made of Prime Minister Key having an entirely private chat with the former Minister of Police during an entirely private meeting in an off-the-beaten-track Auckland eatery. Oh, and the transcript thereof.’

‘You mean the recording made when a cameraman accidentally left his microphone on the table, and couldn’t go back in to retrieve it, because your people wouldn’t let him back in.’

‘No comment. Just hand over the recording or document before I slap the cuffs on and escort you back to the station.’

‘No, I won’t.  And I’m still waiting for you to tell me what I’m charged with and to read me my rights.’

‘Harbouring an illegally and criminally obtained,  subversive recording or transcript thereof, likely to destabilise the government.’

‘But Prime Minister Key has said there’s nothing of consequence on the recording/document. He called it “bland”.’

‘We’ll have none of your clever-clever, smarty-pants media debating tricks here, mate. If Prime Minister Key says you’ve broken the law, then you’ve broken the law. And if you haven’t, he’ll change it.’

‘Really? I thought we lived in a democracy.’

‘That’s a good one!’ Read the rest of this entry »


Paul Goldsmith removes his own signs in case someone in Epsom votes for him



Photos: Jaymam/The Standard

What Paul Goldsmith was doing yesterday to  boost his electoral campaign.


The eyes have it.

Toronto G20

Some cultural differences observed at the Toronto G20.



I risk arrest by speculating on what was in the English Breakfast tea. And how John Key’s life could have been in danger.


Photo: Herald/Dean Purcell

So what’s really on that ‘innocently made’ recording of Big John and Little John’s chat over the English Breakfast teacups? Well, I haven’t heard the recording, so the best I can do is speculate. I’m reasonably certain that just speculating on what’s on the recording isn’t illegal,  though who knows what Big John will come up with next to make sure the truth never leaks out. In the meantime, I’m not expecting the constabulary to come knocking on my door. Unless of course Big John decides on a bit of retrospective law-making. On previous evidence, I wouldn’t put it past him.

Anyway, I think that between sips of English Breakfast, the Johns discussed what to do about the political embarrassment called Don Brash. I’m not alone in thinking that. Lots of people have. But very few have mentioned a curious little incident on last night’s 3 News.

3 News has a copy of the recording but, like other branches of the media, has been warned by the cops of the dire consequences that could befall them, if they broadcast the recording or, presumably, tell anyone else what’s on it. They didn’t do that.  Read the rest of this entry »


Why Labour is both right and wrong about asset sales. (And how I’ll be voting on 26 November – as if you didn’t know!)

I’m against selling our state assets. I’m impressed by Labour’s argument that you can only sell an asset once, and that, as soon as you’ve sold it, you’ve lost the revenue stream forever. Forever is probably the key word. You have to calculate the dividend loss for an indefinite period that ends – never.

And I’m not impressed by the Government’s intention to use the money from asset sales to fund hospitals and schools. Funding for hospitals and schools shouldn’t come from  selling the family silver, it should come from general taxation. If it doesn’t, where are you going to find the cash to fund health and education next year, and the year after that, and the year after that,  when the assets are gone?

I’m familiar with the Government’s answer: ‘We aren’t selling off the lot; we’re keeping a controlling 51% share and we’ll still have the dividends from that.’ Well, 51% of the dividends! And I hope you won’t think me unkind, but I wouldn’t trust you as far as I could throw you on this. When you run short of dough, and you will run short of dough, you’re going to sell the rest. Of course you are. You’re philosophically opposed to the idea of governments owning and running businesses. That’s the private sector’s job.

And this is where you’re out of touch with the essentially chauvinistic view of a majority of Kiwis: ‘Hey, this is our bank; it’s got our name on it – Kiwi Bank; this is our airline, it’s got our name on it – Air New Zealand; this is our power station – we built the bloody thing! This stuff is all ours and you want to flog it off to foreigners.’ Ours and foreigners are probably the key (but not Key) words in this debate.   Read the rest of this entry »


The origins of JK’s threesome handshake


Photo: Rob Pharazyn

He got into practice a long time ago!


So Here Is The News

The little word ‘so’ has recently taken on a new meaning for New Zealanders. People have started using it as a space-filler at the beginning of an answer, in the same way that they use ‘well’.  In reply to the question, ‘How are you going to get the country out of this recession?’ you might have heard:

‘Well, we’re going to kick-start the economy by selling off the Southern Alps.’

Now you may hear:

‘So, we’re going to kick-start the economy by exporting beneficiaries.’

This sounds a bit odd – and it is a bit odd.  Starting a sentence this way turns ‘so’ into a type of conjunction and implies that you are expanding on or explaining something that has preceded it:

‘Social Welfare is costing too much and we need more exports, so we’re going to…etc’

But in this strange new construction nothing has preceded ‘so’. You’ve got a conjunction hanging in mid-air with nothing to join up.

‘What are you doing for Christmas this year?’

‘So I was just saying to Nigel that we should consider going to Afghanistan.’ Read the rest of this entry »


What Robyn Malcolm and John Key have in common and why the actor might just best the politician.


As a general principle, celebrity endorsements of politicians aren’t worth much. When actors, pop singers and assorted stars of the large and small screens say, ‘I like Candidate X, vote for him!’ the man and woman in the street are inclined to (quite sensibly) respond, ‘Why should I vote for him, because you like him? You’re an actor (pop singer etc.) not an authority on the state of the economy or the best way to solve the unemployment problem.’

And even if the endorsement comes from highly respected people, the effect may not be positive. In 1975, driven as much by their distaste for Rob Muldoon as their enthusiasm for the Leader of the Opposition, a group of highly prominent people, including Geoffrey Palmer, Sir Jack Harris, Sir Edmund Hillary, John Hinchcliff, Graham Nuthall and Sir Paul Reeves formed Citizens for Rowling.

The electorate was unimpressed, perhaps resenting the idea that these high-and-mighty people wanted to tell them how to vote, or possibly because the campaign merely served to emphasise Rowling’s weakness as a candidate. Needing help isn’t a great recommendation for any aspirant to the highest office. Muldoon not merely trounced Rowling in 1975 but went on to defeat him in two further elections.

There can be exceptions. Oprah Winfrey’s declared support of Barak Obama cannot have done his Presidential ambitions any harm. Winfrey was herself one of the most powerful people in America with a massive and devoted following. But such situations are rare.    Read the rest of this entry »


So you’d like to moderate a TV leaders’ debate. But have you got the right stuff?

Chairing a television debate between two party leaders during an election campaign is probably  the most difficult thing an interviewer can do. The stakes will never be higher and each leader’s aim will be to monopolise the available time by out-talking his or her opponent. Volume can come into the mix as much as, and sometimes more than, debating skill.

The moderator’s job is:

  • To ensure that the two sides get more or less equal time not only in the overall debate but within each question area;
  • To play devil’s advocate to both sides and with equal force;
  • To keep order.

To  achieve this, he or she:

  • Must have a natural authority;
  • Must not be overawed by the debaters or their status;
  • Must enjoy their respect;
  • Must be willing to read the riot act to them if things get out of hand;
  • Must, like a Rugby World Cup referee, not unreasonably restrict the free flow of play by being unnecessarily pedantic;
  • Must, regardless of gender, have a good strong voice.

If the moderator is unable to be heard when the debaters are talking over one another or if he is too lacking in confidence to interrupt and demand that they behave like civilised people, then he shouldn’t be doing the job.  Read the rest of this entry »