Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


HARD NEWS 05/10/01 - A Letter from Wellington

Approved: Kiwifruit
Subject: HARD NEWS 05/10/01 - A Letter from Wellington

HARD NEWS is first broadcast in Auckland on 95bFM around 9.30am on Fridays and replayed around 5.15pm Friday and 10am Sunday on The Culture Bunker. You can listen to 95bFM live on the Internet. Point your web browser to You will need an MP3 player. Currently New Zealand is 12 hours ahead of GMT.

HARD NEWS is also available in MP3 form from and in text form at You can subscribe to the 95bFM Hard News mailing list at

GOOD DAY MEDIAPHILES ... just a short bulletin this week, on account of the fact that I've been away from my desk and doing a few things in Wellington. Or, as I like to think of it, wandering the corridors of power looking for the toilet ...

Well, you and I now own an airline, again. A Labour government sold Air New Zealand in 1989 and, this week, a Labour government announced its intention to buy back 83 per cent of it in return for an injection of $885 million. It's nearly a billion dollars that could have gone somewhere else, but there really was no choice. Wrapped up in Air New Zealand was not only the brand but a whole mess of air rights we wouldn't have got back if they'd been lost.

The government got its shares for 24 cents each - below the market rate - suggesting that the impact of the Prime Minister's gaffe last week may have been fairly modest. And if I read another whinge about how if the government had just let Singapore Airflines put in $650 million in July things would all be lovely, I'm gonna hurl. Look, that was 10 weeks ago. Singapore wouldn't even have finished due diligence by now, and Air New Zealand would still be gushing money. It just would not have happened.

Anyway, so the government's secret weapon - Jenny Shipley - is back from her travels. Apparently, Americans are deeply disappointed with New Zealand's response to the War on Terrorism. This would seem a bit odd, given that we were one of the first countries in the world to offer troops.

But Shipley reported on her return that some prominent New York businesspeople she'd spoken to regarded us as a bloody disappointment. Unfortunately, in a spectacular interview with John Campbell, she was unable or unwilling to name any of them. He bounced around at his desk, becoming increasingly excited, and she sat there looking like the roaring in her ears was getting louder and louder. She's great, she really is. Don't change a thing.

Shipley, presumably noting that it worked for Winston Peters, also tried for a bit of cheap traction on refugee issues; demanding that we set up detention camps like they run in Australia. Australia's refugee detention camps are, of course, an international disgrace - violent, desperate places without hope. It would be a betrayal of what New Zealand stands for to even think about going in that direction.

War is, unfortunately, a license for a great deal of babbling nonsense. People who have no idea what they're on about insist we should invoke the article in the Anzus Treaty that declares that an attack on one partner to be considered an attack on the other two - unfortunately, there is no such article. And what there is relates explicitly and specifically to an attack in the Pacific. Read it.

This, of course, won't stop Richard Prebble and the boy soldiers at our major daily newspapers talking crap. Did you know the Herald has set up a war desk? Gosh, that must be exciting. Expect an editorial calling for our nuclear-free policy to be rolled back in this time of crisis. Act and National are already bandying that one about.

On the other hand, the America leadership is acting in a reassuringly measured fashion. The Colin Powell view that carpet-bombing Afghanistan might be a bit counter-productive appears to have won the day. If there Americans really can go in and fetch bin Laden or simply kill him - and you'd have to have your doubts - then good luck to them. We'll see.

It appears relatively simple compared to the Auckland mayoral race. An Alliance poll puts Matt McCarten in late teens support, Christine Fletcher in the mid-20s and - please God make it stop - John Banks around 40 per cent.

There's time to change that yet: if every bFM listener sent back their voting forms. But who to vote for as the anti-Banks? Fletcher has run a useless campaign - she's thrown it away herself. McCarten has campaigned very well. But if his crack after Fletcher claimed the support of Auckland Central MP and Minister for Auckland Judith Tizard - he described it as "a rat swimming towards a sinking ship" - is indicative of his likely style as mayor then I'm not very impressed with that either. I don't know. Just vote - G'bye!


© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Keith Rankin: Narrow Vision: Subsidised Cars And Street Immunity
Problems make the world go round. Many of us – maybe the majority of workers, and certainly the majority of well-paid workers – earn our living addressing problems. A problem-free world would represent a major crisis for modern social-capitalism. (Yet standard economic theory continues to present the productive economy as a mechanism for 'satisfying wants', as distinct from 'addressing problems... More>>

Biden In Tokyo: Killing Strategic Ambiguity
Could it have been just another case of bumbling poor judgment, the mind softened as the mouth opened? A question was put to US President Joe Biden, visiting Tokyo and standing beside Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida: “You didn’t want to get involved in the Ukraine conflict militarily for obvious reasons. Are you willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan if it comes to that?” The answer: “Yes. That’s a commitment we made.”.. More>>

Dunne Speaks: Robertson's Budget Gamble On Treasury
The popular test of the success or failure of Grant Robertson’s fifth Budget will be its impact on the soaring cost of living. In today’s climate little else matters. Because governments come and governments go – about every six to seven years on average since 1945 – getting too focused on their long-term fiscal aspirations is often pointless... More>>

Digitl: Infrastructure Commission wants digital strategy
Earlier this month Te Waihanga, New Zealand’s infrastructure commission, tabled its first Infrastructure Strategy: Rautaki Hanganga o Aotearoa. Te Waihanga describes its document as a road map for a thriving New Zealand... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Leaking For Roe V Wade
The US Supreme Court Chief Justice was furious. For the first time in history, the raw judicial process of one of the most powerful, and opaque arms of government, had been exposed via media – at least in preliminary form. It resembled, in no negligible way, the publication by WikiLeaks of various drafts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership... More>>

The Conversation: Cheaper food comes with other costs – why cutting GST isn't the answer

As New Zealand considers the removal of the goods and services tax (GST) from food to reduce costs for low income households, advocates need to consider the impact cheap food has on the environment and whether there are better options to help struggling families... More>>