RIP Sir Paul Holmes

February 1st, 2013 at 12:17 pm by David Farrar

My thoughts go out to the family and friends of Sir Paul Holmes. John Key has said:

“Paul Holmes was a gentleman broadcaster. He conducted his interviews with intelligence and insightfulness, and while he never suffered fools, his interviews were never without kindness and empathy,” says Mr Key.

“He was a trailblazer in New Zealand journalism with a style that was all his own.

“I also counted him as a friend and I want to personally acknowledge the pain Deborah, Lady Holmes, Millie and Reuben are now feeling and offer my heartfelt condolences,” says Mr Key.

“Paul has been part of New Zealanders’ lives since the 1970s. For more than a decade he was compulsive viewing at 7pm and, up until very recently, he was still on Q&A and his radio show. It is hard to imagine a broadcasting spectrum without him.

I did a weekly politics chat with Sir Paul on his Saturday morning ZB show for the last few years. It was a delight to do, as he was always very knowledgeable on the issues of the week – but equally I enjoyed his tendency to wonder off politics sometimes and end up discussing anything from the beauty of Vienna to good coffee. It was his ability to effortlessly hold a conversation that made him such a great broadcaster.

I was never a huge fan of the TV show that made him a household name, partly because it was somewhere between current affairs and entertainment. Where I thought he was almost a genius was on his daily morning ZB show. His ability to talk and entertain for three hours a day was almost without parallel, and I was a regular listener. Have hardly tuned in since he left it. He also brought real experience and insights to Q+A which was a must watch for me.

Of course he was not without his flaws and weaknesses, as none of us are. This however is not the time for reflecting on those. It is a time to think of the many New Zealanders who did know him well and the loss they are experiencing with his passing. I know a number of people who were very close friends of Sir Paul and they often spoke of his enormous generosity of spirit, and many small kindnesses on a personal level.

It is sad to have someone who worked so hard all his life, die so relatively young, unable to experience a long and peaceful retirement which would have been well-deserved. May he rest in peace now.

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Williams on Holmes

January 27th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The best article I have read on Paul Holmes is from former Labour President Mike Williams in the Herald on Sunday. It’s a great read, and what I really enjoyed about it is that it is about Holmes the person, not the broadcaster. Williams has been friends with him for almost 50 years.

Also an interesting read is the 1973 Listener interview with Holmes.

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Holmes retires from broadcasting

December 8th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Phil Taylor at NZ Herald reports:

Paul Holmes is retiring from broadcasting because of poor health, bringing to a close an acclaimed career that spanned five decades.

This year, he anchored TVNZ’s Sunday current affairs programme Q&A, but says he will not return as he makes his health his priority.

Last week, he announced he was also giving up his Saturday morning radio show on Newstalk ZB.

I’ve been doing political panels on Paul’s show for several years now, and will miss his presence greatly. He had a great knowledge and interest in politics both domestically and internationally – and also a great sense of humour.

As a broadcaster, his legacy is huge. He pioneered the 7 pm slot and made it his own.

Holmes has had “not a boring life” and maybe a charmed one considering his scrapes. He survived a car accident, aged 23, in which he fractured his neck and lost the sight in his right eye, and later, a fatal helicopter accident, and a light aircraft crash. “That’s why I’ve been keen to champion the Paralympics, because I know that I have got a bill to pay.”

By being open about his and his family’s battles, he helped to promote men’s health and the fight against the methamphetamine trade, a drug his daughter Millie became addicted to. Holmes stood and spoke in court on his daughter’s behalf.

“He is New Zealand’s best-known broadcaster. Today he was just a Dad,” said TVNZ reporter Haydn Jones. Said Holmes this week: “Oh, I love that line.”

Millie survived and father and daughter reconciled. Holmes fetches a leather-bound book of photos and messages from a surprise party last month at the SkyCity Grand Hotel to applaud him for his charity work. Millie wrote: “To the most amazing Dad on the planet. You have always been in my corner.”

And I suspect that means more to him that all the broadcasting honours.

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Holmes on POAL dispute

March 18th, 2012 at 11:04 am by David Farrar

Paul Holmes writes in NZ Herald:

 I formed the view that the ports company have not been ungenerous in their offers to the union. In fact, even Auckland Mayor Len Brown himself agreed that the company’s first offer made early last September should have been accepted.

The offer would have rolled over the collective agreement and given the workers a 2.5 per cent pay increase each year for three years. There were several offers but early on the company decided it could no longer tolerate its workers getting paid for sitting around doing nothing.

I do not believe the union when it says that it’s a lie that the workers earn in excess of $90,000 for an average 26 hours work. Ports of Auckland had Ernst and Young audit the figures. And that’s something you notice about the ports’ conduct throughout the dispute. They’ve done things very thoroughly.

The union’s argument that its people ceasing to be permanent staff would mean that their families couldn’t plan things was obliterated by the company’s offer to roster the men for 160 hours a month, and the roster delivered a month ahead. For the life of me, I can’t see what’s wrong with that.

I think the union was dyed in the wool. I think they didn’t read the signs. Before they knew it, it was all over. Nearly 300 men were made redundant, just like that. End of story. I think there were some hardliners who’ve buggered things up for everyone. Hysteria is never a good thing.

MUNZ turned down a sgnificant pay rise and a guarantee of 160 hours a month, with rosters known a month in advance. By turning it down, their name is now going to stand for More Unemployed New Zealanders.

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Holmes on Waitangi Day

February 11th, 2012 at 1:49 pm by David Farrar

Paul Holmes writes in the HoS:

Waitangi Day produced its usual hatred, rudeness, and violence against a clearly elected Prime Minister from a group of hateful, hate-fuelled weirdos who seem to exist in a perfect world of benefit provision. This enables them to blissfully continue to believe that New Zealand is the centre of the world, no one has to have a job and the Treaty is all that matters.

I’m over Waitangi Day. It is repugnant. It’s a ghastly affair. As I lie in bed on Waitangi morning, I know that later that evening, the news will show us irrational Maori ghastliness with spitting, smugness, self-righteousness and the usual neurotic Maori politics, in which some bizarre new wrong we’ve never thought about will be lying on the table. …

Well, it’s a bullshit day, Waitangi. It’s a day of lies. It is loony Maori fringe self-denial day. It’s a day when everything is addressed, except the real stuff.

Never mind the child stats, never mind the national truancy stats, never mind the hopeless failure of Maori to educate their children and stop them bashing their babies. No, it’s all the Pakeha’s fault. It’s all about hating whitey. Believe me, that’s what it looked like the other day.

John Key speaks bravely about going there again. He should not go there again. It’s over. Forget it. It is too awful and nasty and common. It is no more New Zealand day than Halloween.

Our national day is now Anzac Day. Anzac Day is a day of honour, and struggle, bravery and sacrifice. A day on which we celebrate the periods when our country embraced great efforts for international freedom and on which we weep for those who served and for those who died.

Waitangi Day is an important day in terms of the treaty between the Crown (Government) and Maori. But it is not, and should not be, our national day.

John Roughan also writes on Waitangi Day. I’ve observed that Roughan tends to be fairly liberal on Maori and treaty issues generally, so that makes his column quite significant:

Protesters forget that Maori have to act in good faith too.

If you or I imagined we were plugged into the deepest yearnings of the people, raised our flag, stood for election and collected a miserable few votes, we’d probably fold our tent, slip away and revise our view of the world.

But we’re not that special breed of human life known as the protester. Votes don’t count for much in the protesters’ idea of democracy. The Mana Party came to Waitangi last weekend as though the election had never happened, or perhaps to say it didn’t matter.

Good faith is indeed required both ways.

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Paul Holmes on the media

November 19th, 2011 at 11:11 am by David Farrar

Paul Holmes writes:

I don’t join lynch mobs and I don’t intend to now. For that’s what it’s been this week, a sanctimonious, high and mighty news media lynch mob baying for John Key’s blood. …

And I’m not blind. This is not happy politics for John Key. He’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. But it never ceases to amaze and disgust me how so few in the news media understand how much the public detests the newspapers and other media ganging up and demanding blood, in this case, because of a few words said in a tape recording of a private meeting, a tape recording that was in itself a dirty trick. People hate this.

I have been amazed at how thuggish the media reaction has been, where they have tried to turn the victim of an alleged crime into the wrong-doer.

Many in the media have argued that because this was a discussion between two politicians with media just outside, that there was no expectation of privacy and the law doesn’t apply. Those who argue that miss the point. If the media honestly thought there is no right to privacy in that conversation, they should have refused to leave the café. They should have said “No this is a public political discussion, and we are leaving our tape recorders behind”. That is an acceptable response. What is unacceptable, and I believe illegal, is to leave a recorder behind concealed and secretly recording.

And any person who argues that the reason it was turned on, yet inside in bag, wasn’t so that it wouldn’t be noticed is either incredibly gullible or dishonest.  Numerous other cameramen have said you never leave a recorder on while in a bag, as it drains the battery, and it interferes with the quality. Anyone who seriously argues this was not a deliberate bugging is naïve at best.

It saddens me greatly when our media makes the UK media look honourable by comparison. Some may resile at my strong language, and say the secret recording is not in the same league as the News of the World. I agree, it is not. But the difference is the rest of the media in the UK has condemned the News of the World, while in NZ the media are all but condoning the tactics involved in the secret recording, and instead expressing outrage that a complaint was laid with the Police. I’m sorry, but isn’t that what you are meant to do when you believe the law has been broken? The media are not above the law, and do not get to decide which laws apply to them, and which do not.

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Holmes on Laws on Paralympics

February 20th, 2011 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Like many, I was disgusted with what Michael Laws said about paralympians last week. Belittling the efforts of those who spend eight hours a day training to be the best they can be was very stupid, and Paul Holmes let loose in response:

Some of the finest, most inspirational men and women I have ever known have been Paralympians.

But Michael Laws thinks Paralympic sport is ludicrous.

No, Michael, it’s not ludicrous. It’s actually brilliant.

It’s brilliant that it exists and it is genuinely brilliant to see.

In Christchurch this summer, at the Paralympic World Championships (as opposed to the Paralympic Games themselves), those of us there watched the brilliant South African Oscar Pistorius run on his carbon-fibre plates.

Pistorius is one second slower over 100m than Usain Bolt. Bolt, of course, does not have to endure the pain of the impact on the point where the prostheses meet the flesh. But Paralympians will never tell you about that because Paralympians, in my experience, rarely complain.

This is something many people don’t realise – many paralympians battle significant pain when they compete – not just your normal pain of exertion.

No, Michael. Paralympics is not ludicrous. Going out to Howick and shagging a P addict on bail who’s called you up on the radio programme is ludicrous. Having the cops come round to your home because you’re being beaten up by your wife is ludicrous.

Fighting desperately over an “H” in the name of a town is ludicrous.

Ouch.

I wanted to cry when I read Michael Laws’ comments. After the decades of struggle by Paralympics to be recognised not as some kind of therapy for cripples, but as genuine sport performed with dedication by physically impaired people, we get an ignorant comment from an intelligent broadcaster who should know better. …

Believe me, no one makes it to the Paralympics unless they are the best of the best. And every day there is the hassle of getting up, perhaps getting through the spasms, getting into the chair, getting to the toilet, getting clean and getting into the day. Paralympians are people who never gave up.

Paralympians are different from able-bodied sports people, that is true. But the runner is different from the shot-putter and the shot-putter is different from the soccer player. What about it? The runner does not say the shot-putter is not a sportsman.

I have a picture in my mind from the Olympic Pool at Barcelona during the 1992 Paralympics. It has stayed with me forever. A young woman lifts herself out of the pool. She levers herself out, really.

She has little stumps for legs with little feet and little toes. She has only one arm and it is a stump too, with a little hand and little fingers. I suppose thalidomide might have been involved. She is truly, stunningly beautiful. She has won her event. Her radiant smile I will never forget.

Words matter, Michael. Words are the most powerful weapon a human being has. Words can build up, they can save a soul, they can make someone feel love, they can cheer the down-trodden and the sad and those who lack purpose.

They can lift the heart and restore the spirit. But they can destroy too, and hurt, and demean those who do their very best to achieve against the odds to become talented, winning sportsmen and women.

One of Paul’s best ever columns.

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Holmes on National Standards

July 19th, 2010 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Paul Holmes makes a fascinating comparison in yesterday’s HoS column:

Well, how did it get to this? After decades and decades and billions and billions of dollars it turns out about a million New Zealanders don’t have the numeracy and literacy skills to make a living or make a go of life.

And the learned education experts, the principals, are doing their damnedest to undermine their minister who simply wants to introduce a national standards system so that a parent in Masterton knows how their child is doing in relation to a child in Kerikeri.

I can think of only one reason they want to fight it. They are alarmed that we may be on the point of finding out.

And then after talking about Mel Brooks’ The Producers, he goes back to 1986:

It is a lesson for broadcasting interviewers and I learnt it myself during those bitter months back in 1986 when the Homosexual Law Reform Bill was exciting the most extreme debate up and down the country.

The Happy Clappy churches and the awful, proscriptive Dutch Reformed Church were passionately, almost fascistically, opposed.

They put up for interview on radio and television programmes all kinds of preachers and visiting “experts” who spoke with hellfire authority about the evils and what men would start doing to one another if the bill passed into law, as if it were going to make homosexuality compulsory. They quoted great tracts of scripture to back it all up. It was insane.

But I realised one morning in 1986, when I was interviewing one of these frightened, hate-filled types, that there was no point arguing on his territory.

Holmes has wonderfully compared the teacher unions to the anti HLR forces in 1986. If they complain too much, I am sure he will artfully point out he never directly compared them. Instead he just allowed the readers to connect the dots.

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Holmes interviews Anderton

September 13th, 2009 at 1:40 pm by David Farrar

From Q&A today:

JIM: Ha-ha. Well, I’ve had a bit of experience winning electorates and any analysis of the election result last time would show that the National Party is not as secure as commentators think. For example, they have nine electorate seats that come within a two party swing of less than 3%, now that is relatively easily won in a contest like this. And you only need Wigram on top of that and one more seat for Labour to hold more electorate seats in Parliament than National. I don’t think that’s a common understanding of the election system at the moment.

PAUL: No, let’s be clear about that. National have nine seats and was left with less than a 2000 majority.

JIM: that’s right, that’s less than 2000 votes.

But Jim is wrong. National has only seven, not nine seats, with a sub 2000 majority. They are (in order) New Plymouth, Waitakere, West Coast-Tasman, Otaki, Auckland Central, Hamilton West and Maungakiekie.

The eight most marginal seat for National is Rotorua which has a 5,065 majority – that is larger than Anderton’s own majority of 4,767.

His adding his seat to Labour’s total is silly also, as one could add ACT’s to National. National has 41 seats and Labour 21. For them to get more electorate seats they need to win 11 seats. The 11th most marginal seat for National is Taupo with a 6,445 majority.

PAUL: but to change the government the Nats have to lose 4,000 votes in each electorate is what you also told them, then it starts to look a bit harder doesn’t it?

JIM: No, well that’s the total, but actually on a two party swing National only have to lose 1900 votes and Labour gain 1900 votes so that’s not as big an order as it looks in the first instance. Look, Paul, all I’m saying to you is that I ran an election in 1981 with Bill Rowling where the Labour caucus had a coup against Bill Rowling in the middle of an election campaign and we still ended up winning more votes than National but we lost the election because there was no proportional representation system then.

Jim again gets it wrong. The attempted “fish and chips” coup against Rowling was in December 1980. The election was in November 1981.

PAUL: But essentially you have come home haven’t you, Progressives can now joined the Labour Party as well as the Progressives and Progressives are not going to stand in Constituency seats in the next election.

JIM: No, they’re not going to stand as a List but we can stand in constituents like mine for example.

Great strategy. Split the centre-left vote to make it easier for National candidates. Thanks Jim.

PAUL: But with Progressives now being able to join the Labour party, essentially you’ve rolled over haven’t you, I mean it’s the beginning of the end for the Progressives. The only reason the Progressives still exists, or are going to continue to exist can I suggest to you is that the public pays the party $164,000 of taxpayers money for the Party expenses and you get $13,000 more for being the leader. Isn’t that the only reason for the continuation of the Progressives?

JIM: No, you’re absolutely wrong Paul. The Government or the Parliamentary Services Commission pays no money for the Party, the Progressives pay their own money, and the money that’s paid to me as an Electorate MP and as Leader of the Progressives in parliament is for Parliamentary purposes, that’s for the work that I do, I have 1500 constituents coming through my electorate office each year and we help them sometimes in matters of life and death – and it’s a privilege to do so – and that’s why my electorate office is funded and why my parliamentary office is funded.

But the point Anderton passes over is his funding is enhanced because of the convenient fiction that he is a party leader.

JIM: That’s rubbish. I continue because people in Sydenham have voted for me for 25 years, I probably hold the Guinness Book of Records for representing the largest number of parties in the same electorate, increasing my majorities most of the time. The people of Sydenham have the right to say that and that’s what they’ve been saying.

1996: 10,039
1999: 9,885
2002: 3,176
2005: 8,548
2008: 4,767

Again Jim is wrong. And when he waka jumped from the Alliance in 2002, his majority took a big hit.

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Mike Williams’ new job

August 30th, 2009 at 5:46 am by David Farrar

The Sunday News reports:

SECRET documents suggest that former Labour Party president Mike Williams got the $100,000-plus a year job heading the anti-P Stellar Trust mainly because he is mates with Paul Holmes.

“Clearly there are some risks with the Williams appointment,” reads a confidential paper from the Trust’s board.

“There may well be other candidates in the marketplace who may be capable of doing a better job as CEO and chief fundraiser, however if we go that route we will very likely not have Holmes’ involvement,” it continues.

It is no secret that Holmes and Williams are close mates, so this is little surprise.

The document, dated August 2, adds: “Our recommendation therefore is to offer the CEO role to Mike Williams, but to give ourselves the ability to review the situation after say six months, subject to the constraints of current employment law.

“If he has not succeeded in raising significant sums in that time, there will not be enough funding for his continuing salary, so he does have an incentive to succeed.”

I am no fan of Williams, but to be fair to him he seemed to be reasonably proficient in fundraising for Labour.

But Williams’s appointment has led to high profile, anti-P crusader Mike Sabin and his group MethCon withdrawing their support for the Stellar Trust.

He sent an email to the board on August 10 which read: “It is with some regret I wish to advise that I am unable to reconcile my concerns about the appointment of Mike Williams to the position of CEO to the trust. I believe this is a high risk appointment that will be very polarising given the political overtones.”

It is understood that Sabin, a former drug squad detective, believed Labour approached the P epidemic with a polarising “harm minimisation” approach, treating it as a public health and welfare issue rather than a public order problem.

Sabin may well be right, but really I wouldn’t hld the former party president responsible for what the parliamentary wing or Ministers decided.

The Stellar Trust board’s confidential August 2 paper also revealed there was a concern about how Williams’ appointment would be accepted by the National Government.

After last year’s election, Williams left Labour’s engine-room following a series of controversial media reports, including how he flew to Australia seeking dirt on John Key.

The Trust’s reservations were passed on to Holmes, regarded as the public face of Stellar.

The broadcaster sought the Prime Minister’s views.

Key last night confirmed a call between himself and Holmes on July 26.

“I’ve moved on and I’m not a person who holds grudges.

“If Mike is prepared to spend his time trying to combat P, given the devastation that drug is causing, then I’m happy to work with him,” he told Sunday News.

Could you imagine Helen Clark saying the same thing about someone who had flown to another country in a (failed) attempt to smear her as a criminal fraudster?

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Holmes rates the senior MPs

June 1st, 2009 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Paul Holmes in his HoS column rates the performance to dates of the senior MPs. I list them below by rating:

10/10

John Key

Lockwood Smith

9/10

Tariana Turia

Pita Sharples

Judith Collins

Annette King

Simon Power

David Cunliffe

8/10

Rodney Hide

Russel Norman

Paula Bennett

Bill English

Gerry Brownlee

7/10

Phil Goff

Normally 7/10 would be a good rating, but not so much when everyone else is rated 8/10 or higher.

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Children in trouble

May 3rd, 2009 at 8:12 am by David Farrar

The Sunday papers have two articles on the troubles of high profile Aucklanders.

The HOS reports Millie Holmes is back in court again:

Elder, 20, spent two nights in police cells last weekend after she was caught by a security guard at the Farmers store in Papakura with a scarf it is claimed she had shoplifted.

Police have also laid three new drugs charges against her – two of procuring and possessing methamphetamine and one of possession of cannabis.

Elder appeared in the Papakura District Court last Monday and is to reappear on May 19, two days before her 21st birthday.

That is sad enough. Her 21st should be one of the best times of her life, and instead she will be facing possible prison time for her latest alleged offending.

She was bailed to a Swanson, West Auckland, address, the home of Headhunter gang member Chris Morris, the father of Elder’s boyfriend Connor, a Headhunters prospect.

And most disturbingly, she is choosing to be bailed to a gang home, instead of her parents. You really have to feel for her parents – Paul and Hine. It must be your worst nightmare.

In the SST, they reveal:

ONE OF Auckland’s worst taggers is the son of millionaire former Fonterra boss Craig Norgate. The Sunday Star-Times has learned that Dylan Norgate, 19, is behind the notorious SPEKT tag which has been daubed across buildings in East Auckland, including Mission Bay, where his parents live in a house valued at $7 million.

Norgate, an old boy of exclusive King’s College, brags about his activities on his Bebo website, which is titled “F… the police” and features photographs of his tags at different locations, including shops in Mission Bay. The website also features pictures of a nun smoking a bong and is full of gangsta rap-style rants about women and the police.

Not just a criminal, but also terminally stupid it seems.

Hegarty said Norgate’s only bail condition was to reside at Lorne St, downtown Auckland, but the Star-Times understands he is living in Christchurch where he attends university. It is unclear if his bail conditions have been altered to take this into account.

He’s a tagger – and at university??

Again you just have to feel for the parents.

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Clark on Q&A

April 6th, 2009 at 5:57 am by David Farrar

Some interesting parts to the Clark and Davis interview on Q&A. I do have to say though that I hope it will not become a permanent feature having an MPs partner on with them.

PAUL Exciting times. Looking back, what was the biggest mistake you made as Prime Minister, I’m sure you’re not gonna tell me your biggest mistake, can I change the question. What is the thing that you did which if you looked back you might do differently?

HELEN No I wouldn’t even go there because I never look back, that’s part of my style, I know journalists often got fed up with me saying move on move on, but I do. You know in politics there’s always an opposition employed to pick over the things you’ve done and why this why that why not the other way, well let them do it but I’m moving on to the next thing.

It is a real pity that Clark won’t answer this question, because I think you learn a lot from a person when they talk about what they would do differently. And while one should not dwell over long on mistakes, I find it useful to acknowledge them and learn from them.

PAUL Not so the one MP who’s name we cannot remember who did not stand up. Peter can I ask you this seriously, what was Helen like in the weeks or the days and the weeks after last year’s electoral loss?

PETER I think she felt rejected basically, because she felt she’d done a good job which I also believe and had put her best foot forward and had been frankly an almost incomparable Prime Minister and yet somehow the public had not seen that the same way. So it took some time for her to frankly come to terms with that and if I was in that position I’d feel the same way I guess.

This has a bit of an attitude about how the public made the wrong decisions, and Labour/Clark did nothing wrong. The reason I say this, is not to swipe at Davis, but because from all accounts most of the Labour Caucus are still in this space. They think John Key just conned the public and all they have to do is wait for him to be exposed.

FRAN Yes she has but I think it’s more than just you know meet and greet and all of that, I think where Helen Clark has scored is she’s also made a contribution and I saw her for instance one example chairing the OECD ministerial in Paris in 2003, and that was probably her first forum where she brought together a number of players, it was after September 11, there was a big you know fracas going on between Europe and America at that stage over the invasion of Iraq which had just happened but she brought together some disparate players to talk about what they could do to move economies forward and particularly also on the trade dialogue, so she chaired that, other actors paid tribute to her, so I’ve seen it there and I’ve also seen her at APEC where she has quietly moved a number of issues on to the agenda, for instance climate change in Korea, it wasn’t on the agenda, Australia claimed credit for it later but she put it there.

I quote this part from Fran, partly because it does highlight where Clark was skilled, but also to balance Fran’s later comment.

FRAN Well that’s right and it was interesting that she said she’s been empowered to do exactly that by Ban Ki-moon the Secretary General. I’d like to just go back, I think she will shake it up and she’s had that track record in New Zealand but one thing that struck me from that interview was that slight disconnect about not understanding why Helen Clark was voted out despite being competent, and to bring to the point one of the issues really was this issue about democracy in New Zealand with the Electoral Finance Act, that and together with Winston Peters that long running scandal that basically cost her her leadership here.

Disconnect is the right word for it. Now Labour have at least done a mea culpa over the Electoral Finance Act, but that was only one part of an arrogance the Government displayed on everything from the pledge card to Winston Peters. Frankly Labour should apologise for their disgraceful behaviour at the Privileges Committee and afterwards. Those MPs are not stupid and they all know that Winston knew about the donation. Yet they covered up for him. Until we get some mea culpas for that also, I’m not convinced they have understood why they lost the election.

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Lockie on Q&A

March 29th, 2009 at 2:56 pm by David Farrar

I missed watching it live, but have now viewed the second segment of Q&A online. The guest was Lockwood Smith (and his fiancee).

The panel discussion afterwards was very interesting. It was Therese Arseneau, Paul Holmes, Ron Mark and Laila Harre. They were all very approving of Lockwood’s decision to try and get Ministers to answer the question, if it is a straight forward primary question.

Laila made an interesting point, about why this may have happened. She said that Lockwood is not personally or politically very close to the National Party Leadership. She contrasted that to Margaret Wilson and Jonathan Hunt who were both extremely close to Clark. In fact we got told how every time she had been in the Speaker’s office, Clark had phoned Hunt while she was there. There is a certain incompatability with being a senior advisor to the PM, and being the Speaker. And we saw that when we had the disgraceful collusion over Harry Duynhoven’s status as an MP.

Lockie I am sure values his own public reputation more than making life too easy for his colleagues. Hence why he has tried to change some things. And ironically I think it actually benefits National also, even though some weaker Ministers may find it hard going. The public see a Government as very arrogant when it refuses to answer even the most simple questions. It loses votes eventually.

What I have found interesting is that Lockie has actually introduced a number of changes, not just redefining the line between addressing and answering the questions. They are:

  1. Playing “advantage”. This was referred to as a light handed regulatory approach with clear boundaries, but I see it as a rugby analogy where he concentrates more on kepping the game flowing, rather than penalising every technical infringement. Several times I have heard him say something along the lines of giving the Opposition more supplementaries because a Minister went on too long. So rather than pul everyone up, he is just striving for a reasonably fair process.
  2. The previously referred to moving the boundary between addressing and answering the question
  3. Is cracking down on points or order that are not points or order. Winston used to be the biggest offender at that – I would say only around 2% of his points or order were legitimate, but Wilson would never pull him up.
  4. Discouraging tabling of documents just to be able to read out what it is. He can not stop anyone seeking leave to do so, but has tried to shame MPs by pointing out whenever they seek leave that they are abusing the process and leave should only be sought for documents not already available to MPs. And this seems to have had some effect on reducing such tabling requests
  5. Time – it has been many years since question time took only an hour. Hell Helen called a snap election in 2002 because of a few extra minutes a day of question time. In the last two years it was routinely taking around 100 minutes. It is now a lot closer to 60 again.

TVNZ also has online the transcript of the interview with Judith Collins.

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Mayor of Auckland

March 28th, 2009 at 11:36 am by David Farrar

The Herald rates the chances of potential contenders for the Mayoralty of Auckland (assuming the Government adopts the key recommendations):

They are:

  1. John Banks – the front runner
  2. Len Brown – good to very good
  3. Mike Lee – good
  4. Bob Harvey – average to good
  5. Paul Holmes – average
  6. Peter Leitch – poor to average
  7. Andrew Williams – poor
  8. Judith Tizard – poor
  9. Blair Strang – dead on arrival

I have not read the full report yet. It will be interesting if the vote for the Mayor is FPP or STV.

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Q&A

March 22nd, 2009 at 10:17 am by David Farrar

Just watched the first Q&A. Overall pretty good.

The Guyon Espiner interview with Key was solid. He probed Key on lots of areas – and Key actually revealed quite a bit of stuff we didn’t know.

The panel was Therese Arseneau (who is permanent) and Phil O’Reilly and Russel Norman. I did find it unusual that you would have the leader of an opposition party as one of the panelists discussing the interview of the Prime Minister. I would have thought MPs should only ever be interview subjects, not panelists discussing other MPs.

The second interview (done by Holmes) was with Andrew Little. I was amused to see footage of Andrew in the mid 80s (when I first met him) and even more amused that they dug out a televised exchange between Andrew as NZUSA President telling Tertiary Education Minister Phil Goff that he is talking nonsense and Goff asking Andrew to stop talking over him. The moderator was a very dapper Lindsay Perigo!

I thought it was revealing when Andrew said “Labour has Phil Goff as its Leader – it only has one leader – it’s Phil Goff”. I was waiting for the “for now” :-)

Andrew did say that he had criticised Labour in the past as EPMU National Secretary. I think he misses the point that yes he did in the past, but now he is Labour Party President he could never criticise Labour publicly.

More revealing I thought was that he appeared to be saying he would be a President more in the style of Judy Kirk – behind the scenes, than Mike Williams who was very high profile.

Andrew finished by saying his record shows that he is very professional (and to be fair to Andrew few would dispute that) when dealing with workers issues, and already has been working with a number of Ministers.

Holmes asked if he would stand for Rongotai if Annette King stands for Mayor and vacates her seat before 2011, and Andrew kept his options open saying he has not considered that scenario. I read that as a “yes”.

I was surprised Holmes was relatively tough on Little. In my mind I saw Guyon as doing the tougher interviews, and Holmes doing the slightly less pointed ones. But Holmes pushed Andrew quite hard and asked some very good questions.

Therese made a very interesting point about Andrew’s two hats that he may build up a bigger media profile than Goff, because he is so often in the news as EPMU National Secretary.

Russel Norman made the point that while it is good to see Labour promoting insulating homes now, that getting them to agree to the package before the election was like pulling teeth.  Normal also acknolwedged that National is wrong footing Labour by doing things both on the right and the left.

Overall the panel discussion moderated by Holmes went very smoothly I thought.

I think that TVNZ will be pretty pleased with their first episode.

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Holmes returns to TVNZ

March 6th, 2009 at 7:30 am by David Farrar

I heard around a fortnight ago that Paul Holmes would be the anchor for the new TVNZ weekend political show, that is meant to be the substitute for Agenda.

The Herald covers this today:

Veteran broadcaster Paul Holmes is to front the new version of the political current affairs show Agenda.

The weekend political show – wholly made with taxpayer funding – is back on air this month with the new name Q&A.

The former Newstalk ZB breakfast host has been hired for the main hosting role, but TVNZ political editor Guyon Espiner is expected to provide long-run interviews – as he did on the old Agenda.

I think it is sensible have the Political Editor doing the main interviews as he has more in depth knowledge of the issues.

It will be interesting to see how it compares to the old Agenda.

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More on Viliami Halaholo

February 15th, 2009 at 8:09 am by David Farrar

Both Sunday papers have stories on Viliami Halaholo, the father of Paula Bennett’s granddaughter.

The Herald on Sunday cite the most recent parole decision saying he still posed an “undue risk” if released, his drug use in prison (but not recently it seems as last three tests have been clean), and his previous offending. All not a pretty picture.

The Sunday Star-Times has Paul Holmes advising Paula Bennett to basically stop supporting Halaholo, or risk losing her daughter.

There is no doubt Paula and her daughter Ana have some tough decisions, either way. Cutting a father out of a child’s life is not some trivial decision. It means a child that grows up without a father, a mother without a partner, possible legal action, possible conflict within your own family.

Likewise it is a tough and risky decision to give a young man a chance to turn his life around when he is out of prison. If he offends again, then questions of judgement arise.

So it is all a complex measure of risk. If you abandon Halaholo, it is probably almost certain he will return to a life of crime. But if you continue to support him once released, well the risk is still there.

But what do I personally think? Well I think it is a decision for Paula and Ana to be made in private, not on the front page of the Sunday papers, and while well intentioned I am sure – not with the public advice of Paul Holmes. If Paul wanted to really help, then write them a private letter.

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Farewell Paul Holmes

December 19th, 2008 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

I wasn’t always a fan of Paul Holmes on TV. Don’t get me wrong – he made the Holmes show into a huge success, but I didn’t think he was the best political interviewer on TV and would get frustrated with some of TV work.

But with his radio show, I have no mixed feelings at all. I absolutely love Holmes on ZB and listen to him most mornings. His sense of humour and ability to poke at sacred cows was wonderful. He really had few peers, and it showed in the ratings. I am not sure if we will see such a talented radio person again.

The NZ Herald (despite often being a target of Holmes) delivers a nice farewell editorial.

I don’t know who I will listen to now. Not sure how Hosking will go. I could defect to National Radio but again with Sean Plunket leaving, that loses some of its appeal.

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Qantas Awards

May 10th, 2008 at 8:44 am by David Farrar

The lovely folks at the Herald on Sunday invited me to join them at their table for the Qantas Awards in Auckland last night (as I have done a couple of pieces for them), and it was definitely the place to be as they went on to win not just Best Weekly Newspaper but the coveted Best Newspaper.

Earlier in the night briefly popped into some blogger drinks and caught up with some of the old regulars, and met a few new people which was fun. Also failed to recognise Phil U due to his new look :-)

Back to the Qantas, and as I said it was a great night for the Herald on Sunday. On top of the two main newspaper awards, they also won Best General Columnist and Best All Round Columnist (Paul Holmes) and Best Portrait or Object Portfolio Photographer (Janna Dixon).

The Herald on Sunday is less than four years old, and when you start with no subscribers, it is swim or sink, and I think it shows the power of hunger and competition that such a new newspaper has done so well. The Sunday newspapers are almost the only ones which still have direct competition in the print media.

Most people didn’t give speeches, but Paul Holmes gave a hilarious speech which Bill Ralston (one of the MCs along with Mary Lambie) tried to cut short. Paul just retorted “Knock it off Bill or I’ll fucking thump you” which had the desired effect. Ralston and Lambie were both very good as MCs, with Ralston making many jokes at the expense of his former bosses at TVNZ.

The winner of the most significant individual award – the Qantas Fellow to Wolfson College in Cambridge went to Phil Kitchin of the Dominion Post which was indisputably deserved. Kitchin and his editor Tim Pankhurst also got an Outstanding Achievement award for the Louise Nicholas story. Few stories have ever had such an impact on a country, and as Pankhurst pointed out it was their most defamatory story ever – except for the defence of truth – so deciding to run it was pretty ballsy.

Peter Griffin picked up Best Information & Comms Technology Feature Writer and Carroll du Chateau, Best Government, Diplomacy and Foreign Affairs Feature Writer. The Herald also had a very good night winning the Best Daily Newspaper with over 25,000 circulation. I understand their major stories on the Electoral Finance Act were submitted as their portfolio.

The best IT Columnist was Jillian Allison-Aitken from the Southland Times. I have to confess I have not read her stuff,so will have to look out for it in future. Colin Espiner was Best Politics Columnist.

Oh yes the best newspaper section went to the ODT for their world focus section. A few people joked they didn’t know the ODT had a world focus section – I have to admit when I lived in Dunedin my memories were that the Oamaru fair day would received twice as much space as the Berlin Wall coming down :-) Obviously things have improved!

The Listener won Best Newsstand Magazine which editor Pamela Stirling appreciated greatly as vindication for her decisions to make changes to The Listener. We know this, because she said so in her acceptance speech!

In the online categories the Herald won best news website, NBR won best single report on a news website and the globally popular Read Write Web won Best Blog. Congrats to No Right Turn for being a finalist.

As I mentioned the Herald on Sunday won Best Newspaper and Best Weekly Newspaper, and NZ Herald Best Large Daily. The Manawatu Standard won Best Small Daily, the Aucklander (West) Best Community Newspaper, and the NZ Herald Best Front Page (for their Democracy Under Attack  story)

The full awards list is here.

Was a very enjoyable night, meeting new people and catching up with others. Having a quiet recovery day today and then off to a play in Auckland tonight.

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