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March 24, 2008 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

The Greatest Lies in Aotearoa’s Politics

4. “Politics and sport should be separate.” Such was Muldoon’s argument in 1981 – but in 1980 his National Government had put immense pressure on competitors to pull out of the Moscow Olympic Games. 104 out of 108 complied – all but three kayakers and a pentathlete. Muldoon made sure he was absent from debates over the Moscow boycott, since he was already planning the 1981 tour and didn’t want to appear hypocrital, according to biographer Barry Gustafson.

Fundamentally, however, he revealed himself to be a true hypocrite, encouraging the tour which tore Aotearoa apart for a year, all for a ‘principle’ which, only a year earlier, he had shown he did not believe in. In the process, he ensured his return to power (albeit with a decreased majority).

3. “Throw money at a problem and it will go away.” Child abuse was “the issue” for much of 2007. So Labour set up a $14 million advertising campaign, putting lots of serious chastising faces on television. Now when a parent is about to beat their offspring black and blue, they think of Governor General Anand Satyanand’s concerned expression and immediately stop. Or… maybe not. But at least the plan provides jobs for film-makers, so that we can say we have a healthy knowledge economy. This is the benefit of having the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage in the PM’s chair. In the end, if you throw your money hastily at a problem, the only thing that goes away is your money.

2. “Drug Prohibition Reduces Drug Use.” In 1927, marijuana was commonly known as Indian Hemp; its recreational use in Aotearoa was rare, although it was commonly used in medicines sold over-the-counter by chemists. Yet in that year we followed America’s lead in making it highly illegal. In advocating this move, Customs Minister William Stewart said that addiction was “one of the worst possible evils and one of the most difficult to suppress because of the secrecy of the trade and terrible ravages it seemed to produce.” Drug prohibition was thus claimed to be a way to reduce abuse, despite the fact that a black market increases “the secrecy of the trade.” Yet whereas marijuana use was not particularly cool in 1927, it is now all the rage. The government currently spends over $55 million per year trying to fight pot. The police waste 300,000 manhours each year on marijuana crime – the equivalent of 150 full-time cops doing nothing but chase stoners rather than corporate fraudsters, rapists or murderers. Yet I’m sitting here right now with my bong, doing what more than half of all kiwi adults have done at some point. Drug prohibition reduces drug use? Yeah right. Similar to those who preach Lie Three, prohibitionists believe that if they throw laws at a problem it will go away. In fact, by discouraging drug users from being honest about their use, this lie discourages addicts from seeking help for their abuse. It means stoners have to buy their wares from dodgy old men in panel vans, instead of safe outlets. Keeping our children safe? Not so much.

1. Te Tiriti o Waitangi: Ko te Tuarua: “Ko te Kuini o Ingarani ka wakarite ka wakaae ki nga Rangatira, ki nga Hapu, ki nga tangata katoa o Nu Tirani, te tino Rangatiratanga o o ratou wenua o ratou kainga me o ratou taonga katoa.” The Treaty of Waitangi, Article Two: “Her Majesty the Queen of England confirms and guarantees to the Chiefs and Tribes of New Zealand and to the respective families and individuals thereof, the full exclusive and undisturbed possession of their Lands and Estates, Forest, Fisheries, and other properties which they may collectively or individually possess, so long as it is their wish and desire to maintain the same in their possession.” In 1800, the various iwi of our land were in control of 65 million hectares. With a combination of military confiscation and the extension of dodgy credit, settlers – my very ancestors – wheedled them out of all but two million hectares by the end of the century. When, in the 1890s, the Liberal Party Minster of Lands John McKenzie promised to “break up the big estates” and provide free land for the many, a large proportion of what he provided was also wheedled from the dwindling Maori land supplies. The missionaries who drew up the Treaty – Williams, Busby and Williams – may have sincerely intended for the tribes of Aotearoa to retain the full Rangatiratanga of their lands, villages and all else they regarded as tapu. But the ‘Crown’ which signed it went on to pillage that taonga for decades to come. Article two of the Treaty is therefore the biggest lie, and the largest broken promise, in our history.


About the Author ()

Tristan Egarr edited in 2008. He threw a chair once.

Comments (5)

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  1. Kerry says:


    I’ll be along with my storyboards to pitch for the ad’s for J-day later…
    I can do that for, say , $200 + film stock costs ;-)


  2. Sonny Thomas says:

    Point 3 is pathetic. Really, you could have come up with something much better than that.

    Family Violence is a severe issue in New Zealand, and has been on the political agenda much longer than you think. The Ministerial Taskforce on Family Violence has been running longer than you suggest.

    Family Violence in New Zealand is appalling. One in four female children, and one is six boys report being sexually abused, mostly be family members and family friends. This is not an issue to trivialise, and suggest that the only response is actually to give film crew jobs.

    Some care to deal with this issue is details might be something Salient should investigate.

  3. Chris de Lisle says:

    I think Tristan was suggesting that that is the major response that has been taken. I’m not sure I agree… There was also the Anti-Smacking legislation… But no one’s very impressed with that for some reason.

    Otherwise the points are good. Particularly number 1, although what will ultimately be done about that, I don’t know.

  4. The anti-smacking legislation was simply a technical change to the role of judges in determining guilt. Neither it nor an ad campaign – however well they are both intended – are actually practical solutions to child abuse. Sonny is right that child abuse is a serious matter, yet many of our caregivers, social workers, and CYFS workers are underpaid, over-stretched with caseloads of one hundred or more clients… and receive more hatred than support from the populace. Perhaps giving them the support and resources they need would be a good move towards a solution. I cannot say the same for advertising.

    So 3 stands – simply spending money on something in someway is not a solution.

  5. Kerry says:

    If the government actually published the real figures for how much of the population is not working, their much-vaunted ‘economic surge’ during the last term in parliament would be seen for the hollow lie that it is.

    Case workers at WINZ are under more pressure, with less training and resources, than at any time since I’ve had dealings with them -which goes back to helping solo parents get childcare subsidies in the 90’s when I was co-convenor of Aro Valley Pre-School.

    The strip-down of the public service in general, by replacing staff with more and more complicated and unwieldy data managements systems, which require greater levels of computer literacy from staff in order to be functional, has been another contributor to the service barrier.

    Actual face-to-face time with case workers is getting harder for beneficiaries to achieve, and programs like ‘Working for Families’ are eroding base pay rates, whilst shifting the responsibility for maintaining a living wage from employers onto the State… this works for employers (and landlords, via accommodation supplements…), not families.

    Labour. Fix, fasten, forget.

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