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John Drinnan is a Herald business writer and media commentator

John Drinnan: Making a stand on dope

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Blogger and political consultant 'Bomber' Bradbury denies exclusion of pro-marijuana party from poll was his call

Blogger Martyn Bradbury has written several posts sympathetic to the synthetic highs industry. Photo / Natalie Slade
Blogger Martyn Bradbury has written several posts sympathetic to the synthetic highs industry. Photo / Natalie Slade

A blogger and political consultant to Mana and the Internet Party has warned he will not support closer ties with the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party.

This comes after ALCP leaders questioned Martyn "Bomber" Bradbury's editing of The Daily Blog platform, and his links to the legal highs organisation the Star Trust.

Campaigners for legalisation of natural marijuana believe they have been getting a bad deal.

Bradbury is a longtime supporter of real cannabis, but lately has written several posts sympathetic to the synthetic highs industry.

Other liberal campaigners and blogs such as Public Address have supported a legal foundation for the legal highs industry, and lamented the decision to amend the Psychoactive Substances Act that will force 41 legal high products off the market, pending safety tests. But Bradbury is different because as well as having a high media profile, where he promotes himself as champion of the common man, other media have revealed he is also a political consultant to both the Mana Party and the Internet Party.

The danger is the commercial roles might become enmeshed.

Dak v dak

ALCP deputy leader Abe Gray - a botany lecturer at Otago University - says Bradbury has cut comment in The Daily Blog and excluded the party from a poll on the site.

Bradbury acknowledges bad vibes between himself and the ALCP, but says its exclusion from the Daily Blog poll was not decided by him.

Friction with the left wing blogger appears to reflect a rift between the natural cannabis people and the well-resourced legal highs industry.

Real cannabis people were sold on the idea that the act would be a halfway house to legalisation of real cannabis.

Many now feel that support for the synthetic product has slowed the prospect of real marijuana reform. The clash over real and synthetic dope recently led to a split between some on the ALCP and the marijuana organisation Norml, which backs synthetic drugs.

Legal High products advertised for sale at Shasha on K road, in Auckland. Photo / Chris Loufte
Legal High products advertised for sale at Shasha on K road, in Auckland. Photo / Chris Loufte

'Dirty, filthy'

Star Trust director Grant Hall confirms Bradbury's comment that he does not have a commercial relationship with the trust. "The reason you may have heard this rumour is because he interviewed some of the guest speakers [at a Star Trust conference in March], researched the questions for the political debate and hosted the political panel on the day.

"Beyond that he has no role with the trust and does no work for us currently."

Bradbury was unhappy when asked about his ties to the legal highs industry, and sent a terse letter to ALCP leader Julian Crawford for talking to the Herald.

He said: "I worked for the Star Trust as the convener of their recent conference, my association with them has nothing whatsoever to do with your none [sic] inclusion in the poll. We only have parties on that poll with a chance of entering Parliament. The ALCP has no chance of entering Parliament.

"This type of deceitful smearing has helped make up my mind in terms of any advice to the IP and Mana in terms of broadening their alliance to include ALCP," he said. Bradbury criticised Crawford for "dirty, filthy tactics".

In truth, Bradbury's advice might be irrelevant, since Mana Party leader Hone Harawira and his wife Hilda are strong opponent of drugs. The Internet Party and Mana are looking at a merger. A political source says that if the Internet Party is considering dope legalisation - which might make sense given its target demographic - it would get short shrift from Mana.

The kerfuffle is small beer, but it reveals the fallout when "political consultants" mix their media and commercial roles.

Wrong first time

There were a few laughs yesterday when a promotional email arrived in the office, offering to improve writing skills. Exisle Publishing was promoting a book by an Australian academic, focusing on the problem writers face in coming up with the perfect opening. The press release starts: "You have an piece of writing ..." Oh dear.

Talking tough

Radio New Zealand National has delayed the launch of its early evening show featuring the unlikely pairing of Mary Wilson and Jim Mora. The show was to begin this month but has been delayed to July 7 when Wilson returns from holiday. The rejig was designed largely to provide a space for Simon Mercep, who was moved off Morning Report, and has been unpopular among Wilson supporters, who believe her Checkpoint show should not be changed.

Radio New Zealand Checkpoint presenter Mary Wilson in their Wellington studio. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Radio New Zealand Checkpoint presenter Mary Wilson in their Wellington studio. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Mercep will start his new afternoon gig on May 12, and Mora will continue to compere The Panel from 4pm to 5pm, leading in to Checkpoint.

It is understood there has been friction over the show at RNZ, with problems securing a producer.

It is also understood that some politicians have been grumpy about the combative style of new Morning Report announcers Guyon Espiner and Susie Ferguson. Moaning politicians are neither here nor there, but this columnist has received calls from listeners who also complain that Ferguson, especially, needs to pick her fights more economically.

Sexy industries

People continue lining up to train as journalists, or work in film and TV. No surprise there; they are sexy industries. But many are left looking for jobs once they graduate.

The NZ Qualifications Authority has begun an inquiry into the outcomes of non-university courses in journalism, radio, television and film.

The review, which is being led by Gerben Cath, a founder of the South Seas film and TV school, is expected to cut the number of courses. Cath says the percentage of students who get jobs at the end of studies will continue to be a factor in whether courses survive.

John Barnett, founder of South Pacific Pictures - our biggest TV producer - welcomes a review of what people learn, saying that some work for two years on courses, and graduate only to find they don't have the skills employers want.

A review of film and TV schools several years ago led to the closure of many, but some poor ones have crept back, he says. Barnett also questions whether courses should be based in regions that have no film or TV industry.

The review does not include graduate and postgraduate courses, but Barnett says some of these also do not deliver skills sought by the industry.

Meanwhile, on journalism training, there has been some debate over the approach of universities, which in my view are often focused on research funding, and hire tutors with a background in academia rather than in the industry.

Best of British

Fairfax NZ has gone on a recruitment drive in Britain, seeking salespeople, journalists and other editorial staff.

That is despite several rounds of layoffs, which explains why the departure of four executives on the UK headhunting mission has annoyed some staff, who say there are plenty of New Zealanders looking for work.

It appears Fairfax is seeking expatriate New Zealanders to come home, and people with skills in new media that are more advanced in Britain than they are here. That surely raises questions about media training here, and the industry courses that are under review.

- NZ Herald

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