Subject: HARD NEWS 29/9/00 - Here Comes the Sun
HARD NEWS is first broadcast in Auckland on 95bFM around 8.45am on Fridays and replayed around 4.30pm Friday and 10am
Sunday on The Culture Bunker. You can listen to 95bFM live on the Internet. Point your web browser to http://www.95bfm.co.nz
. You will need Real Audio 3.0 to be able to listen, plus a 28.8k modem. Currently New Zealand is 12 hours ahead of GMT.
HARD NEWS ON THE INTERNET appears in text form at Scoop, at http://scoop.co.nz and on the Ihug homepage at http://www.ihug.co.nz
. It is now available in MP3 form at http://www.mp3.net.nz
. You can sign up for Hard News mailing lists at http://nz.com/NZ/NZNewsArchive/HardNewsSubform.html and at Scoop - http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/myscoop
GOOD DAY MEDIAPHILES - Funny how things change, isn't it? Not so long ago, the New Zealand Herald, in an editorial
headed 'Mark Todd owes us all an explanation' had predicted shame and vileness if Todd so much as showed his face in
Sydney. Go now, and save us all, it ordered.
But what happens the morning after Toddy snares the country's first Olympic medal from Sydney? The Herald is frothing
all over the front page with a lead story headed 'Kiwi spirits soar with Todd bronze'. Spare me.
The shifting moods of Auckland's favourite paper were in evidence again this week when the Herald ran an editorial
headed 'Time to look up at our bright horizon'. Cheer up, everybody, it said. Even if you don't like the government's
policies, "they could be much worse. It's not the end of the world and there is no point in the corporate community
continuing to depress itself."
"Private sector leadership, including the role that this newspaper can play, will be the key to a positive turnaround,"
the editorial continued. Right. Is this really the paper that beat up a business confidence survey into the infamous
'Economy in nosedive' front page? Still, the advent of some sense must be welcomed. You have to wonder if the paper's
proprietor, Tony O'Reilly, has had a word in the ear along the lines of "Snap out of it. Oh, and make some money while
you're at it. You're a monopoly, for God's sake."
Even if the Herald's sunny new disposition lasts, it may be a struggle getting the "corporate community" to get with
the programme. The Employers' Federation's incredible effort in looking down its nose at an average 28% reduction in
employer premiums from the new, renationalised ACC this week was evidence of that. It's not sustainable, bleated the
employers. And what sort of muppet thought last year's loss-leading private premiums were the last word? Jesus, these
people really have a problem.
But back to the Herald, where, as is often the case, the troops have been doing fine work while the generals run round
in circles. The paper's coverage of the Olympics, both offline and online, has been classy. It's hard to imagine the
Herald of five years ago doing anything like it.
The Games are, of course, an even better story for television. They've been dramatic, emotional and attractive TV,
never more than in the coverage of Cathy Freeman's win in the 400 metres. Whether we deserved it or not, the cameras
gave us all extraordinary public access into her private moment.
Sport is only sport, and in and of itself, a running race doesn't matter much at all. But the symbolism of that race
became a crushing weight - and with the lifting, Australians went mad. But the enthusiasm with which some white
Australians rushed to declare the aboriginal girl "one of us" betrayed an interesting sense of who is welcoming whom.
It remains to be seen whether Freeman's run will bring enduring progress on Australia's race problems. But it did more
damage to John Howard than all the protests, all the street theatre, all the sharp Parliamentary questions.
Howard, staggeringly, wasn't even at the venue to see Freeman run. When he was asked whether he'd considered Freeman's
criticism of him and his party's gutless position on aboriginals, he could only weakly plead that bringing politics into
it would only spoil things.
Speaking of John Howard, what on earth does Jenny Shipley think she's playing at? First she accepts a frankly
inappropriate freebie to the Olympics from Air New Zealand, then she emerges from a private meeting with Howard telling
everyone what her friend the Prime Minister of Australia thinks.
According to Shipley, Howard told her he wasn't interested in currency union and that he was regarded New Zealand's
defence spending priorities as a breach of trust and that he was concerned over the current overstayer amnesty.
Now, I don't give a rat's fanger - as Roy and HG would say - whether Howard said anything of the kind. It was not for
Jenny Shipley to issue press releases announcing Australian government policy in advance of a meeting between the Prime
Ministers of our countries.
The woman is an embarrassment, a diplomatic bumpkin. Were it not for the woeful lack of leadership talent in her party
she'd be down the road already. Judging by the increased frequency of public statements emerging lately from Bill
English, his long, slow run has begun.
Said long, slow run might indeed be symbolic of our athletes' performance in Sydney. It wasn't so much the paucity of
medals won - which isn't out of line with history - as the way so many of our medal contenders just went belly-up. What
happened to our ability to sail anything bigger than a surfboard?
The list is too long to tarry over, but there can't have been a bigger blow-up than the hockey women. They only had to
beat Argentina - which they did two out of three a few weeks ago - to play for the gold medal. Instead they got a 7-1
But it is a funny game, hockey. As Jan Borren said, it doesn't reward endeavour. I might add that, for a low-scoring
game, it appears to leave way to much room for random decision-making by umpires. The disallowed goal against the Dutch
was topped only by the bizarre call that cost the stick chicks the win against Spain with 30 seconds to go. How on earth
can you be called for time-wasting in the act of playing the ball?
In the end, as we have in the past, we've had to content ourselves with one outstanding individual. Rob Waddell is
clearly the best in the world at what he does. If what he does happens to be single-sculling rather than something
glamorous on the track, then so be it.
The Australians, having invested nearly a billion dollars in developing their athletes - not to mention importing them
from Russia and Germany - can have the glamour. There are few New Zealanders who believe we ought to spend that kind of
money - or even that we have it to spend.
Alison Roe being a notable exception. One of our greatest distance runners is also one of our greatest morons, going on
her appearance on Sports Cafe this week. The government should haul money out of education and welfare and put it into
sports, she said. Oh right - children learning and eating isn't nearly as important as developing elite athletes.
The Olympic experience may have left us with a national feeling that we just can't get anything right at the moment.
It's not economic - the Europeans have been watching their currencies go soft and mushy and they're flush with medals.
It's not the government - Tony Blair's in terrible strife, but the Brits have had their best games in decades.
I wonder if half the problem is that we are stuck in that time of year where we're waiting for summer to start.
Aucklanders know that there is a couple of months of drizzle to come before that happens. The Australians, with the
sense of mission they've shown over it everything, effectively brought their summer forward - declaring a special
Olympic version of daylight saving time. Nature largely obliged.
In a world where the bloody Danes voting against joining the Euro will probably send our dollar down again, we could do
worse than to just summon the summer. Without meaning to sound unduly positive - we can't have that, can we? - I've been
dealing with afew small companies who are just getting on with it and doing the most exciting thing a small business can
do: exporting. Perhaps the business lobby could take a tip or two.
And, to conclude, the part of Hard News where I tell you what to buy. Call me a capitalist and subject me to street
theatre, but I like it. And I urge you to purchase 'The Golden Hits of Daphne Walker with George Tumahai and Bill Sevesi
and his Islanders'. Viking Records might only have been finally moved to do it because Air New Zealand licensed 'Haere
Mai' for an ad campaign, but it's well overdue and at a mere 22 bucks, it's a stone cold cultural bargain. Get one for
your Mum, too - G'bye!