How about Shane Taurima for Sean Plunket’s replacement on Morning Report?
A radically different style from Plunket, but he does have good interviewing chops, very extensive experience and strong credentials, especially in hard political news. His interviews with party leaders before the election were exceptional and demonstrated that he can’t be pigeonholed as a “brown issues” journalist. To my knowledge he has been scrupulously neutral with regard to politics, throughout both the present and previous governments. He is fluent in te reo, and has — dare I say — a deeper understanding of MÄori issues than any other journalist who would be considered for the role. He would bring a marked change of style and perspective to the programme.
I am on record stating a preference for Radio NZ to elevate someone from within their existing journalistic ranks rather than head-hunting a star, but we sure could use some more MÄori faces and voices in the mainstream broadcast news. There are a few: Julian Wilcox, Eru Rerekura, Willie Jackson, John Tamihere, Jenny-May Coffin and others all do good work, but at the fringes — on low-rating or niche channels, constricted bulletins and difficult timeslots, or in sports or talkback rather than proper news. There are a number of senior reporting and editorial/production staff — such as Duncan Garner, and Carol Hirschfeld’s departure from Campbell Live in particular is sorely missed — but all in all Mike McRoberts is the only MÄori anchor of a mainstream news programme, and most people don’t think of him as such (which is in many ways a testament to his success).
Shane has just quit his job at Marae due to the impending format shift, and his role with TVNZ is apparently in doubt. John Bishara of Te MÄngai PÄho says he must be “going to something better”, so I suppose one question is whether Morning Report is “something better”.
Well, I don’t happen to take much legal advice from lawyers.
Regarding leaky homes, a problem caused by deregulation under the government of which John Banks was a part. Listen to the whole interview with a somewhat exasperated Sean Plunket. It’s worth it to hear Banksie argue that:
That we need to “get money into the hands of Bob the Builder” rather than giving it to the lawyers
… even though “of course” (he says) it’s Bob the Builder who caused the problem … and people can still sue Bob the Builder “if they can find these people and get hold of them legally”
… while admitting that there’s no real prospect of that since those responsible mostly have “walked away from their responsibilities”
… and conceding that the amount spent on laywers so far would cover only a tiny proportion of the total cost of leaky homes in any case.
That he “doesn’t think there’s any right and wrong” in the arguments around leaky homes;
That some people have been held to account, but he can’t name them;
That the magnanimous “John Key government” has said it is “morally responsible” while not being actually responsible;
and that he (personally) is taking responsibility, but that he has no recollection of precisely why the regulations were passed (by his government).
So the Crown, having had their appeal against the Waihopai 3’s acquittal (about which Pablo wrote an excellent post) dismissed, is considering a civil case against them, to recover the $1.1 million cost of the damage to the dome and fences surrounding the satellite dish.
In politics it is usually best to fight symbolism with symbolism; once a topic or policy matter is being debated in symbolic terms, in general no amount of fact or logic or reason will prevail against it. This often promotes an arms race — the party to a debate who introduces symbolic aspects to their discourse gets to set the agenda, to define what the debate is about, and this is clearly so with the Waihopai 3. While the customary analysis of the protest action is that it took place one morning in April 2008, with a slight return in the criminal court during March 2010, but all this demonstrates is that people don’t really understand the nature of this protest. It is ongoing. This morning, Peter Murnane responded with some puzzlement to Sean Plunket’s question “Do you have any further protest actions planned?” by saying “No […] well, we’re busy with this one.” That’s the point: Defending their actions on truthful, legitimate and principled grounds in the full glare of public scrutiny is the protest. Contrary to another current case, the Waihopai 3 have stood up and said the non-blasphemous equivalent of “you’re goddamned right I did”, and are willing to accept the consequences of their actions — but only once they’ve made their position clear. And they expect that their commitment to principle and legitimate due process is reciprocated by the Crown, and if sued will call for representatives of the GCSB to face them in court. This places the Crown in an invidious position: it cannot permit senior intelligence and security staff to be dragged into this matter, but if it fails to do so it will cede the symbolic field to Ploughshares, and the legitimacy of its position will be further eroded.
For the Crown to seek reparation would be fair and just: the actions of the Waihopai 3 cost the NZ taxpayer money and the Crown has a right to recover that via legitimate legal means. But because the Waihopai Three have set the terms of the symbolic debate and have everything to gain and nothing whatsoever to lose from the case, it is a fool’s errand. While, as Bill Hodge says, the Crown has an “invincible case” in the civil court, the battle is not being waged in the court, but in people’s hearts and minds. The Waihopai 3 claim they have no money, and this seems plausible. So the only reason for the Crown to take a case against them is to demonstrate that the organs of power are not to be trifled with, and that even if a jury will acquit for a good cause, an appealing idealistic argument, or an integrous and principled stand such actions cannot be undertaken with impunity. A display of power, if you like, though not an especially vulgar one. Such a display may serve the social purpose of quelling the urges of overenthusiastic and legally (not to mention ethically) illiterate anti-abortionists, and will have some currency among the not-so-closeted authoritarians who bayed for the blood of these peaceful protesters in April 2008 and again in March 2010. But to the extent that the government seeks to retain its dignity, this will be cold comfort indeed.
In some regards this is my favourite time of year: when the news starts again. It’s day two, and Sean Plunket’s already excoriating Gerry Brownlee for failing to ensure security of electricity supply to the upper North Island. Seems Gerry was expecting a few softballs to start with: he was woefully unprepared, said the circumstances were “clear to him” and his ultimate comeback was to whine that the public were only “seeing one side of the story”.
Well, yes. Those who suffered from the outage will give their side of the story. If you’re the Energy Minister, or a senior executive of Transpower or one of the other agencies responsible for maintaining those lines and enforcing the Public Works Act (over the objections of landowners) then it’s your job to get the other half of the story out there. You can’t expect your opponents to do it for you, and you’ve nobody to blame but yourselves if it doesn’t emerge.
Blame-shifting and complaining that “it’s not fair” aren’t the sole domain of the Left, after all. When they’re all you can do, it’s a sure sign you need to work on your act.
Some of you will know that I take perverse joy in waking up to Geoff Robinson and Sean Plunket each morning,* and I regard Sean as one of the country’s best interviewers (and the best hard-news interviewer, though Mary Wilson gives him a fair run some days). Pablo has written about Radio NZ’s treatment of him over his bid to write a column for Metro, and I think it’s fair to say he (Sean) is pretty sore about the whole affair. He does not strike me as one to trifle with, and though I can’t quite put my finger on it, I think something very subtle is going on with Sean Plunket’s new blog: Sean Makes Crafts.
Welcome to the blogosphere, Sean. We watch with interest.
Sean Plunket delivered a stinging, if metaphorical, spank to Larry Baldock today on Morning Report (audio). Plunket challenged Baldock to demonstrate one case (just one) in which a parent was convicted of a criminal offence for smacking a child. He can’t, because there hasn’t been one. After several minutes of going around in circles arguing symbolic, rather than substantive matters and making excuses, he settles on the case of Jimmy Mason, which is explicitly not a s59 test case, since he denied striking his son at all.
What we have here is an apt and obvious demonstration that Larry Baldock doesn’t actually understand what the question means – and neither does John Boscawen. That, and the pro-smacking lobby is trying to use the referendum for symbolic purposes. They’re arguing that the question doesn’t mean what its words say it means – it means what its proponents say it means. If this was taken on by government it would be a subversion of the purpose of a CIR, which is to give the electorate a chance to answer a specific question which has clear and obvious policy implications – not to give people a chance to tick ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and then have the meaning of that response spun into whatever suits the referendum framers’ agenda. Because there is no possibility of gaining an understanding of what the electorate wants with this question there is no legitimate issue of representation, despite what anti-anti-smackers such as Dave think. John Key has seen this, and has wisely refused to allow his government to be hijacked by populist propagandists with an incomplete grasp of either the issues or the process; that is, people who figure that belief and ideology are all that matter.
Larry Baldock also reveals his larger purpose here, which is to establish himself and the Kiwi Party as NZ’s next populist vehicle, exploiting the vacuum left by Winston Peters’ absence. He started by talking about how both Phil Goff and John Key are “part of the problem” for supposedly ignoring the electorate, and finished this interview, in which he made no substantive points whatsoever in support of his case, with a petulant “the next-best referendum will be the elections in 2011”, a somewhat weak variation on “the eternal court of history will absolve me” which calls on people who believe that both Labour and National are the problem to vote for him.
Well, Larry, we’ll see. You’re no Winston. Perhaps you can sign Michael Laws up; you could use his political competence.