A Week Of It: Howzat! Cricket Playing MP Action
A Week Of It: Howzat! Cricket Playing MP Action
While New Zealand has had an MMP Parliament for nearly ten years MPs from the minor parties have largely shied away from participating in the noble sporting contests that dot the parliamentary calendar. Today in Wellington's scenic Botanic Gardens a titanic struggle on the cricket oval raged between MPs and staff drawn from New Zealand's diplomatic community. This tussle involved a number of MPs from the two main parties united in a grand coalition aimed at maintaining parliamentary cricketing honour. These men (for they were all chaps) - of differing political persuasions - were moulded into a disciplined fielding unit through the quiet leadership of New Zealand First MP Brian Donnelly.
A Week of It discovered over the course of the afternoon that efforts had been made in the past to reflect the MMP environment. Former Green MP Ian Ewen Street had expressed an interest in whacking some leather around the park but had piked at the last minute. Both United Future and the ACT party had previously provided MPs in the past. Rumour had it that ACT MP Ken Shilrey was a useful cricketer until - just like Shoaib Aktar - his knees had let him down.
One unkind MP suggested Rodney Hide could involve himself in a non-playing capacity as the sight screen. That kind of unchristian comment was in the minority today though – the words 'David Benson-Pope' and 'tennis balls' were not heard once by A Week of It. Instead there was hearty congratulations for Labour MP Paul Swain as he kept his nerve and pouched an outfield catch from the bowling of National MP Chris Tremain. New National MP Tau Henare was however in the dog box with politicians of all stripes for missing the match.
For the casual cricketing observer it would seem Jeremy Coney rather than Richard Hadlee was the inspiration for most of the MPs in their bowling actions. When the batteries ran flat in the Scoop camera new MP Labour MP Shane Jones had yet to bowl – however thanks to the good work of dibbly dobblers Paul Swain, Mark Blumsky, Chris Tremain and John Carter the MPs score of 190 looked to be well out of reach of the diplomats.
In last week's column the saga of former Radio NZ Mediawatch Editor Tom Frewen's contract termination was traversed. Mr Frewen was advised by a letter from Radio NZ's Network Manager John Howson that the decision to terminate his contract "follows the publication of your article in the NBR of Friday 10 February 2006 under the banner Media Watch which in [RNZ's] view is contrary to the conflict of interest provisions in the RNZ editorial practices."
Last week when asked if it was the article itself that caused concern or the fact that Mr Frewen had written it under the heading Media Watch (NBR) - Mr Howson replied that it was neither of those things and hinted that the reason behind Mr Frewen's departure related to "a much broader picture".
This week the subject of Mr Frewen's contract termination was raised at the Commerce Committee by National MPs Georgina Te Heu Heu and Pansy Wong. Radio NZ Chief Executive Peter Kavanagh informed the members of the Commerce Committee that Mr Frewen had breached Radio NZ's editorial policy by not getting prior approval from Radio NZ before he wrote a column for the NBR.
"It''s not the content of the article that is the issue – it is the fact that someone who works on National Radio's Mediawatch program wrote an article in essentially the same role in the NBR, under the same heading , which creates a fundamental confusion in the minds of the readers of the NBR and the listeners of Radio NZ," explained Mr Kavanagh when asked about Mr Frewen's contract termination
National MP Pansy Wong found it odd that a freelancer should have to get outside contracts Okayed by Radio NZ before accepting them and Mr Kavanagh agreed to provide a copy of Radio NZ's editorial policies to the Commerce Committee at a later date. A Week of It attempted to clarify the position with Mr Howson today regarding what responsibilities a freelance employee has to Radio NZ.
A Week of it: There's other people that are hired by Radio NZ as freelancers- such as for example Russell Brown – do they always get in touch with you and tell you they are going to write articles for various publications?
John Howsom: No, Russell Brown contributes to Mediawatch as a contributor – we commission that him knowing full well what he does and say can we have you comments, your observations, your input on this this particular subject – he's not the editor of Mediawatch.
A Week of It: So it's an editor Vs contributor [issue]?
John Howsom: It's not necessarily
that it's a problem but [the position of editor] creates a
different status. It's a different situation.
A Week of It also contacted the NBR who informed us that their media column has been known as Media Watch (two words) since 2000. Mr Frewen wrote on media issues for the NBR and had a weekly column (Ad Lip) from the late 1990s until March 2001. He did not specifically write the Media Watch column until asked by the NBR to return a few weeks ago when Deborah Hill Cone resigned to write a similar column for the Listener.
Mr Frewen told the Dominion Post in mid February that the Office of the Ombudsmen was investigating a complaint he laid before Christmas regarding Radio NZ's actions in putting his Today in Parliament show out to tender last year. The letter cancelling Mr Frewen's contract as Mediawatch editor was dated 14 February 2006. A Week of It understands that a letter advising Radio NZ that the Office of the Ombudsmen was investigating Mr Frewen's complaint would have been received around the same time.
While discussing the epic saga of David Benson-Pope Newstalk ZB's drivetime host Larry Williams pointed out to a Wellington based reporter that former Labour Cabinet Minister Michael Bassett had come out and criticised David Benson-Pope.
"When you get someone like Michael Bassett [who]comes out and [has]said that he's got no credibility anymore - that he's an embarrassment - [Michael Bassett's] a Labour man isn't he...yeah?"
A Week of It wonders if Mr Williams has any other criticism of Mr Benson-Pope by other 'Labour men' such as Roger Douglas, Ken Shirley of Richard Prebble he'd like to share with the nation?