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Memo to National Party Caucus: Please Pick Bill. Please, Please, Pretty Please!

Bill English

I like Bill. Bill is just great. Really, really great. And – sorry to blow my own trumpet – but if anyone should know, I should. Well, me and Judy really – the team that brought you Helen Clark. Back from the dead, some would say, but I couldn’t possibly comment. Anyway, back to Bill. Did I say Bill was great? What an understatement! Bill is stupendous, charismatic, a master of oratory and, no point in denying it, a real stud. The stats never lie. And here’s the thing: I’m a dyed in the wool Labour man. A socialist, to be strictly accurate. So this is really tough for me to have to say. But hey, truth is more important than politics. And it will out. Bill is supercalifragalistic, expial… Oh never mind. Bloody brilliant on the box too. And if anyone should know, I should. Did I say that already? Never mind, the truth will out. And here’s the acid test: if I had to choose between watching a 45-minute interview with Bill on some TV show on Sunday morning and watching Paula Bennett figure skating naked on ice, I’d pick Bill. And so would Judy. Charisma, mastery of the language, sex appeal. It’d be riveting, wouldn’t  it? Think of Bill as a rivet: solid, reliable, holding things together, grey-coloured. So please, please, please pick Bill to lead you into the next election. If only to please me and Judy and Labour Party voters from the Cape to the Bluff. Bill’s your man. And mine. Thanks. Brian

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Brian Tamaki – Saint or Sinner?

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Of the several thousand people I have interviewed in my broadcasting career, including forgers, prostitutes and train robbers, there is no-one I have held in greater contempt than Brian Tamaki.

Tamaki’s principal interest in life is not God, it is money. And no amount of money is ever enough to allow him and his wife to continue living the lifestyle to which this self-proclaimed “bishop” has become accustomed – a lifestyle of luxury and excess. Nor has any sight filled me with more disgust than Tamaki standing on a platform and inviting his disciples, principally the poor of South Auckland, to come forward and lay as much money as they can afford, or more perhaps, on the stage in front of him. A blessing! Read the rest of this entry »

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Ten No Trumps

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Well, now we have a racist megalomaniac or a brilliant political thespian as the most powerful man in the world. Or maybe both. I’m opting for both. Be very afraid!

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HEY, MAX!

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Just read that piece about you by that bitch in the Sunday Star Times. What’s got her knickers in a twist eh? Probably gagging for a good ride! That’s the trouble with the bloody Kiwi press – too many old sheilahs out of touch with the in scene.

What you need is a man’s take, Maxie. A real man’s take.
Well, you’ve come to the right shop there, kiddo – Dr Been There Done That, Still Crazy After All These Years, Bring In The Next One: At Your Service!

So here’s the first rule to staying cool: don’t make an ass of yourself. And especially not a total ass. Looking a total ass is really not cool, Maxie. Get it?

And yes, we all know that you’ve got special circumstances going on. And it isn’t easy.

On the other hand, it isn’t all that hard either. Read the rest of this entry »

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Suicide Note from a Deranged Narcissist

Paul Henry

Paul Henry has given a lengthy interview to the New Zealand Herald‘s Canvas magazine. The paper teases readers in a banner front page headline: ‘POTTY MOUTH PAUL – Has Henry finally gone too far?’ Having read the piece my preferred headline would have been SUICIDE NOTE FROM A DERANGED NARCISSIST.

Been there, done that. Though the interview I gave to a national newspaper in 1970, when I was making my name on the current affairs programme Gallery, was not riddled with expletives as this interview is. I’ve always thought that needing to pepper your language with ‘fucking’ represented a failure in communication. Or perhaps just trying too hard to impress. Read the rest of this entry »

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I GET A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM THE GOVERNOR OF THE RESERVE BANK

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Hey you! Yes You! The wrinkled old guy with the funny Irish accent! God, you look ancient! Must be 90 if you’re a day! Hold on, I’ll check the file. Jeez, only 78! Time you retired, mate. You’ll bloody wear yourself out! What else? This is interesting: “Made a name for himself on the box. Started that Fair Go thing.” We hate that programme here at the Bank. Bloody consumers knowing their rights! Peasants! What would they know about high finance? No pleasing them. Moan bloody moan!

Which brings me to your letter DOCTOR!!! Passed on to me by our Head of Surveillance. Let’s see: “… saved all my life… told by every government this was the responsible thing to do… managed to buy a house and put away a nest egg for my old age… now being punished for having been responsible…. Interest rates at all time low… people with barely a cent to their name now borrowing hundreds of thousands… not fair… blah blah blah…”

God this is side-splitting, Doc. Tears (of laughter) are running down my cheeks. Can’t wait to tell Bill about this. Still, you’re right and you deserve an answer. And here it is, Doc – Take it to Fair Go, Mate!

Bottoms Up

THE GOV

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Never On A Sunday!


Andrew Little

Having of late been more critical than approving of Andrew Little’s efforts in television interviews I now come to praise him: he handled a lengthy and confrontational interview with the terrier-like Lisa Owen on ‘The Nation’ exceptionally well. His ums, ers and y’knows were gone, he was fluent, his eye contact was sustained and he looked confident. The interview should have been a winner.

There was only one problem – the long list of questions he was unable to answer at all! Not from lack of knowledge but because Labour’s policy on each of those topics was not due to be released until the Labour Party Conference on Sunday, which, as we all know is the day after Saturday, when ‘The Nation’ is first broadcast. The world – and Lisa Owen – would have to wait till then.

So we ended up with a whole series of questions which Andrew had to tell Lisa and the audience he couldn’t answer. Conference had to hear them first – on Sunday!

It was really embarrassing.

So here’s my question: How in god’s name did no-one in Little’s office notice that his interview with Owen was the day before the Labour Party Conference which would make it impossible for him to say anything new or of consequence about … well, pretty well anything.

That proved a disastrous oversight with Little repeatedly having to tell Owen he was sorry but he couldn’t talk about that.

Heads should roll!

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Is Judith Collins fit to be Minister of Corrections? I think not.

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Just listened to an appalling performance by Judith Collins with John Campbell on Checkpoint re Ngapari Nui, a gang member doing wonderful work for Maori prisoners. Unthinking, irrational, blindly bigoted, closed-minded, just plain stupid. With these attitudes Ms Collins is not fit to be Minister of any portfolio requiring forward thinking or social understanding. Least of all Minister of Corrections.

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Can Andrew Little win next year’s election for Labour? A reluctant assessment.

Andrew Little

If you type ‘Andrew Little’ into the Search box on this site you’ll find several posts in which the current Leader of the Opposition’s name appears. If you take the trouble to read them all – personally I don’t recommend it – you’ll discover that Brian Edwards thinks that Andrew Little doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of ever becoming Prime Minister of Godzone and that,”maybe, just maybe, Andrew Little is a man for the time.”

Hold on, both of those statements can’t be true, can they? Oh yes they can! And if you’re sitting comfortably, I’ll try to explain.  See, I think this Andrew Little is a pretty good guy. Here’s what I said about him just after I’d come to that conclusion: “Whether being good and looking good, whether being yourself and acting yourself are entirely compatible is not something I want to canvass here. But I do know that if you don’t ‘come across’ on television and radio your chances of political success are greatly and quite possibly fatally reduced. Which brings us to Andrew Little. I thought his reply when questioned about why he had won the Labour leadership that ‘it must have been my bubbly personality’ was great. But the irony behind that answer was also a clear indication of his awareness that he doesn’t meet the ‘performance requirements’  that commentators like myself regard as essential in the aspiring political leader. Indeed, in a previous post I wrote him off as ‘a grim-faced, former union leader with little chance of ever becoming Prime Minister’. When his supporters subsequently spoke of his having ‘a dry wit’, I said I was more inclined to regard it as ‘arid’.  So his ‘bubbly personality’ response was encouraging.”

I’m no longer encouraged. After 18 months in the job, the Leader of the Opposition still looks dreadful on television and sounds dreadful on radio. His ‘bubbly personality’  joke has descended from irony to farce. In a recent interview – I think it was on Q+A – he said y’know so many times that I eventually gave up counting. He talks to his interviewers but doesn’t engage with them on a personal plane. He looks and sounds like the caricature of an old-style British trade unionist. His personal ratings reflect all of this. That, sadly, is a losing formula for any aspiring Prime Minister. Pity!

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Why Britain Joined the EU (explained)

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Baby In The Monster

Moko

Followers of this site and of my writing and broadcasting will know that in matters of crime and punishment my approach could reasonably be defined as “liberal”. That approach was perhaps best summarised in Baby in the Monster, a piece about Malcolm Rewa originally broadcast on National Radio’s Top Of The Morning and later included in a collection of columns from the programme, entitled Brian’s Week. Here are a couple of paragraphs from Baby in the Monster:

“So how and why do monsters emerge? My own view as a hard determinist is that nature and nurture conspire to make us what we are. But whether you accept that view or not, it is undeniable that the formative experiences of childhood and youth play a critical role in whether we become saint or sinner. Violent offenders, not least those who abuse women and children, were themselves almost invariably the victims of violence and abuse.

“I like to look at the people around me and imagine them as little babies. The saintly person was once a little baby, but so too was the monster. Baby and saint, baby and monster are not two separate people but stages in the life of one person. Between baby and saint, baby and monster, there stretches a continuum along which things happen to each of them that determine what they will be at any given stage of their lives. (This, incidentally, is more or less the same conclusion reached in the brilliant television series Why Am I? based on the Dunedin Longitudinal Study and broadcast on TVOne.)

“Only by separating people from their personal histories, by treating the person now as though he or she had no connection with the person then, is it possible to condemn them outright, to dismiss them as sub-human. It’s easy, of course, to see the baby in the saint. The real skill is in seeing the baby in the monster.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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An Outstanding Matter in the Teina Pora Case

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The prosecution of the bastards in the New Zealand Police who, for all intents and purposes, framed an innocent and incompetent man whom they then knowingly allowed to rot in prison for more than two decades. Justice will not have been served until that grievous wrong has been put right.

 

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A piece of gratis media advice for Hilary Clinton

Hilary Clinton

 

Here’s some free media advice for Hilary Clinton now just trailing Donald Trump in the polls: Stop smiling and waving to “people you recognise” in the crowd. It’s insulting to everyone else, looks (and may well be) dishonest and makes you appear like a movie star rather than a future leader of the Free World. Get some gravitas!

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I’m gonna sit right down and get myself a mortgage…

gingerbread house

First you have to understand that I know nothing about economics. I am totally unqualified to discuss anything to do with finance. I leave that all to the brains in the organisation, one JC, to whom I have the good fortune to be married.

So you’re well within your rights, indeed you might even be well-advised, not to continue reading. Then again, you might adhere to the old precept that where ignorance is bliss ’tis folly to be wise and lend at least half an ear to what this Irish ignoramus has to say.

So  (It’s imperative these days to begin every sentence with “so”!) I hear that the Governor of the Reserve Bank has cut the Official Cash Rate by .25% to 2.25%. Borrowing money has just become cheaper. This is good news for people who want to borrow money, particularly people who want to buy a house but haven’t got remotely enough money to pay for the house. I”m happy for them of course. Debt has just become cheaper and more attractive. We won’t worry too much that this debt is going to take years, possibly decades to repay. Nor will we depress those happy borrowers with the reality, gained from personal experience, that that cheap mortgage will be an albatross round your neck for all those years or decades, and that the happiest day of your life will be the day you get rid of the bloody thing. No, let joy be unconfined, the doors to the property market have just been opened a little bit wider. Read the rest of this entry »

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Madonna and the Bishop

I read in the Herald that Auckland’s Roman Catholic bishop, Patrick Dunn, has “slammed” Madonna as being “highly offensive to Christianity”.

I know Patrick Dunn quite well and very much doubt that this gentle and rather charming man has ever “slammed” anyone. But one must take into account the tendency of tabloid publications like the Herald to sensationalize in the interests of commercial gain.

Here is what Dunn, as reported by the Herald, said:

“There is no question in my mind that some of Madonna’s material is highly offensive to Christianity and will be found just as offensive to the majority of people of religious faith, as well as many cultural sensitivities.”

That, it seems to me, is quite simply a statement of fact. If you doubt it, check out the video of Madge’s Like a Prayer, in which sex and religious devotion combine to make a potently erotic statement.

Read the rest of this entry »

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On the New Zealander of the Year

Footie player named “New Zealander of the Year”! No scientists, doctors, writers, social reformers, campaigners for justice… Are we a nation totally without judgement or imagination?  Rhetorical question.

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On Punishment and why we Kiwis can’t get enough of it.

Paremoremo

In an article in yesterday’s Sunday Star Times on the role of imprisonment in the rehabilitation of offenders, Sensible Sentencing Trust founder Garth McVicar expresses the view that the first priority of sending people to prison is to keep the public safe. It’s a relatively moderate statement from McVicar, expressing perhaps the philosophy behind the excellent work done by the Trust on behalf of the victims of crime.

A more characteristic expression of McVicar’s understanding of the proper function of imprisonment appears elsewhere in the article: His “second priority” is punishment:

“We shouldn’t be ashamed to talk about that. Criminals need to be punished for their actions.”

Mr McVicar is, according to the article, worried that our country’s prison policy is more concerned about helping inmates than punishing them. And he’s not a believer in rehabilitation:

“If you can rehabilitate those people then you would have rehabilitated them long before they were imprisoned. The problem is when they get to prison they’re not long off becoming a career criminal… We need to focus on punishment and then rehabilitation once they’ve served time.” Read the rest of this entry »

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On Vets, Specialists and Debt Collectors – A Rave!

Felix and Max

Felix and Max

On Monday, on Jim Mora’s Afternoons panel, I launched a full frontal assault on what I consider the avarice of two professions – vets and medical specialists.

My ire, in the case of the veterinary profession, was occasioned by the cost of treatment for our two cats, Max and Felix, amounting not to hundreds but to thousands of dollars in this year alone and to tens of thousands over their lifetime.

I should add that the care and treatment which the cats received was invariably excellent. I have no complaint on that score.

Nor have I any complaint about the care and treatment I’ve received from medical specialists, which is fortunate since I’m a confirmed and fully paid-up hypochondriac.

As with the vets, it’s less their fees which anger me than  their debt-collector mentality to payment.

This was exemplified in a consent form which I  recently had to sign before seeing a specialist. What seemed to me an inappropriate and offensive amount of space on the form was devoted to the perils of non-payment of the bill. When I remarked on this during the subsequent consultation, the specialist, to my surprise, entirely agreed. He didn’t like the form either and he hadn’t drawn it up. The professional body representing his specialist field had.   Read the rest of this entry »

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A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Footie!

Mark Weldon - MediaWorks CEO      (Photo: Stuff)

Mark Weldon – MediaWorks CEO (Photo: Stuff)

This year I added a second string to my bow of media appearances. In addition to appearing with my good friend and mortal radio enemy Michelle Boag on Jim Mora’s Afternoons programme, I became a regular panellist on Paul Henry’s morning TV/radio show.

The downside to these appearances was that I had to get up at sparrow-fart to be there on time, I didn’t get paid, and people kept bailing me up in the street to talk about it.

Well, “downside” is really not the appropriate word for people taking the time to tell you how much fun the Henry/Edwards exchanges were and how much they enjoyed the badinage between us.

The last of these appearances was on 29 June. During our conversation I revealed to Paul that I’d never in my life been to a rugby game or even bothered to watch one on television. I found the sport utterly tedious. Give me soccer or netball or limited-over cricket any day.

Paul was astonished and offered  on air to take me as his guest to a big rugby match so that I could see how marvellously exciting it was. He’d even arrange a corporate box. I accepted this generous invitation. As I was leaving TV3 a member of Paul’s production team rushed past me and breathlessly called out, “Got to arrange those footie tickets, Brian!”

Well, Paul and I never got to the footie. Not only that, I never heard from the programme or TV3 again. That appearance on 29 June on the Paul Henry Show was my last. Buy why?

Well, that’s a total mystery to me – a conundrum, a puzzle. It just doesn’t make sense. Unless perhaps you have a look at There’s Always More Room At The Bottom Of The Barrel, posted by me on this site on June 18, and Good News From Mediaworks. Story! posted one week later on June 25. That’s four days before my last ever appearance on the Paul Henry Show.

What have these two posts got in common? They’re both highly critical of remarks made by Mediaworks CEO Mark Weldon. TV3 is part of the Mediaworks stable.

Paranoia? Maybe. But just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.

Cheers Paul! Still love the show.

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Why “Better late than never!” does John Key no credit.

However many additional Syrian refugees the Government agrees to welcome to these shores, it will do the Prime Minister no credit.  This will have been a victory for public opinion and the media – for the letter-writers to the newspapers, the talk-back callers  on radio, the politics reporters, leader-writers, columnists and cartoonists who took a stand on an issue of principle that demanded something more than dispassionate reporting.

It would be nice to think that this tide of sympathy for the plight of the Syrian refugees was what persuaded John Key to change his mind and approve a special intake of these dispossessed men, women and children. But that scenario strains credibility. Why did the Prime Minister have to be persuaded at all? Had he not seen the heart- rending television coverage of a desperate people in flight for their lives? Why prevaricate and why then change your mind?

Well, the simple answer is that Key realised he was losing electoral support, that the country was not behind him and that the political fallout from maintaining his position on the Syrian refugees could prove terminal.

Well, better late than never. But however many additional Syrian refugees the Government finally agrees to accept, the indisputable fact will remain that it was political expediency and not human sympathy that motivated the Prime Minister’s change of heart. And that does him no credit.

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