And that was Holmes

December 9, 2012

Paul Holmes burst onto prime time television in 2007  1989 with an interview from which Americas Cup skipper Denis Conner walked out.

I was so incensed by what I thought of poor journalism I wrote to Conner, who wrote back with a copy of his autobiography.

It all looks a lot less shocking by today’s standards.

That was a long time ago and Holmes has been a major figure on screen and the airwaves since then – as an interviewer and subject.

He was often controversial but also raised a lot of money for charity.

Now ill health has forced him to resign from broadcasting.

. . .Of work, Holmes said he played hard but straight. “I kept my word.” He made few if any enemies and is proud of that. He is friends with both Mike Williams, a former Labour Party president, and Michelle Boag, National’s former president, who together organised Holmes’ party.

Should anyone think to remember him, he said, “I would like to be remembered as a decent bloke.”

As the Herald prepared to leave, he told of a recent text from former colleague Cameron Bennett after TVNZ showed highlights from Holmes. “What great days those early days of Holmes were,” it said.

“They were,” said Holmes, “and I’m so grateful to have had them.”

And, in the words with which he ended the show, that was Holmes.

Things to do at 9am on Sunday

January 29, 2010

Watching TV at all, let alone a programme on politics, doesn’t usually feature on my list of things to do at 9am on Sundays.

However, programmers at TVNZ have stuck to last year’s scheduling time and that’s when Agenda Q&A will screen again.

It starts this Sunday. Phil Goff and Hone Harawira are the interviewees. Mike Moore and Jeanette Fitzsimons willl join resident polticial analyst  Dr Therese Arseneau and Paul Holmes on the panel.

Education priorities

September 20, 2009

Whether you’re an individual or a government, when your expenditure exceeds your income you’ve got to set priorities.

Education Minister Anne Tolley made it clear on Q&A this morning that her priority for the education budget is younger people.

Well 124 million dollars will still be spent in adult and community education. What I’ve said is we’re going to focus on literacy, numeracy, language, foundation skills – those courses that will lead on to employment. We’re still in an economic recession, there are people out there, particularly young people, who are the most vulnerable, they are the most likely to lose their jobs and the least ones likely to get jobs.

PAUL Yes, but night classes in schools of course as adults – migrants, refugees adults trying to improve their lot – the strugglers.

ANNE Some of them are, some of them are hobby courses courses like belly dancing, ukulele playing. We’ve got courses like pilates and yoga – I’ve attended those classes myself. The average age of people attending those night classes is about 46. What we’re saying I had a half billion debt from the previous government to find in tertiary education what we’re saying is we’re going to put those tax dollars into supporting our young people through the recession.

Tolley said that English language classes will remain and, pointed out what seems to escape many of the critics, that schools will still be able to offer other classes on a user pays basis.

She also countered the criticism about taking money from Adult Community Education while funding private schools.

Economically, private schools save the State system money. I’m looking at a small private school at the moment that’s probably going to close – wants to integrate – currently costs the State around $65,000 a year. If it integrates and comes into the State network it’s going to cost $380,000 a year which is an enormous difference.

That argument might not sway people who are ideologically opposed to private education and think they should be self-supporting. But if it costs the state less to keep them going than to bring them, or their pupils, into the state system it makes sense to take the least expensive option.

Potential for savings confirmed

September 6, 2009

Paul Holmes interviewed someone on Q&A this morning.

I didn’t catch her name, I’m not sure of her title and the interview isn’t online yet. But she was from the Families Commission.

The interview confirmed my contention that the multi-million dollar budget allocated to would be better spent on other initiatives which make a positive difference to families.

And that was before Paul asked her why the Commission made a submission calling for Maori seats on the new Auckland council.

The interview will be online here soon.

UPDATE: The interviewee was Dr Jan Pryor, the Families Commission’s chief commissioner.

Another question

August 30, 2009

Should Paul Holmes not ask Winston Peters the $158,000 question on Q&A this morning he could ask another:

How can we trust you?


*  the illegal use of public money for campaigning for the 2005 election (illegal at the time but not now because of retrospective legislation).

*  the lies about money from Owen Gleen and other donors;.

* he took the baubles of office and clung to them after he lost the office.

We can’t.

Will he ask the $158,000 question?

August 28, 2009

Paul Holmes will be interviewing Winston Peters on Q&A this Sunday.

The media release says the interview will be on Peters’ future and the party’s ambitions.

But will Holmes ask the only question that matters? The $158,000 one:

When will Peters pay back the $158,000 he owes the taxpayer from the misuse of parliamentary services funds before the 2005 election?

I use he advisedly because we all know that he is the party.

If Holmes wants a supplementary he could also ask where the $158,000 he supposedly paid to charities went.

Lockwood vs Holmes

August 9, 2009

Lockwood Smith won this morning’s debate with Paul Holmes on Q&A .

One of the points he raised was how much, or how little, some MPs do:

One of the things that I’m actually amazed the media hasn’t focused on, is you now see who are the members in demand, who are asked to speak around the country, you can actually tell it from their travel expenses, because they’re being asked to appear in front of groups all round the country.  Some members are obviously not sought after much and therefore their expenses are only a fraction of the others.

When political commentators rate MPs it’s almost always on their performance in Wellington. That’s only a small part of the work of a good electorate MP and some of the better list MPs. Those who do the most outside Wellington obviously have greater costs for travel, accommodation meals and other out of pocket expenses.

It’s fair to ask why some MPs spend so much, but of equal concern is why some spend so little. If they’re not out of Wellington working for and with constituents what are they doing?

Another point Smith made was, unlike most jobs, there is no adjustment for length of service and experience:

PAUL I’m talking about private holidays.  I’m talking about private international travel MPs get subsidised on .

DR SMITH Well one of the reasons why that subsidy came in Paul is over the years if you take my situation prior to this last election.  Twenty four years’ service, pretty senior member, mostly on the front benches during that time, on exactly the same salary as the newest list member walking in six weeks before the election.  Now in broadcasting, is an experienced broadcaster like you on the same income as someone recruited six weeks ago?  Yet that’s the only profession I’m aware of where salaries don’t change after years of service.  The one privilege, the one privilege members get after years of service is that travel subsidy, and I think actually they deserve it.

MPs get additional pay for taking on extra roles but those who stay as back benchers with no additional responsibility get no recognition for their length of service and experience. Maybe some don’t deserve it, but some electorate MPs work very hard and their experience helps them serve their constituents better.

Then there’s the pressure on families:

PAUL  Alright, but why should we pay for the spouse?  I wouldn’t expect the companies I work for to pay for the spouse.

DR SMITH Think about it a little bit.  When you work Paul you’re mainly at home.  I got married recently, no honeymoon, my wife and I have spent very little time together since I’ve been married.  That’s the pressure on families, that is the real pressure on families.  Parliament Paul chews up, destroys and spits out families, and if you want to put more pressure on families and spouses and marriages, that’s fine, I’m not going to support you in that.

PAUL  Well Dr Smith with the greatest of respect, welcome to the real world.  Professional private business executives travel without their spouses all the time, anyone who’s ambitious and gets ahead sacrifices family.

DR SMITH Paul that’s ridiculous, the amount of time Members of Parliament have to spend away from their families far exceeds that.  If you think that’s not true, stand, Paul, stand for Parliament.  There’ve been quite a few in the media who have over recent times, and they’ve bailed out real fast, when they’ve found actually the going was a damn sight tougher than they expected.

MPs aren’t alone in having jobs which put pressure on families and marriages but few if any others have the same level of demand which is placed on MPs and it’s worse for those with big electorates. The way they are on call and in the public eye almost all the time requires sacrifices for them and their families which would be rare if not non-existent, in other jobs.

The panel of Katherine Rich, Andrew Geddis and Peter Neilson give their views on the discussion here.

Stephen Franks makes a very strong defence for allowances here. One of the points he makes is that including allowances in a higher salary would suit lazier and greedier MPs.

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