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July-August 2003Thought for the Week: "Athenians! Certainly, things are going badly and you are in despair. But in this you are wrong! If, after having done all that was necessary to ensure that things should go well, you had still seen them turn out badly, you might have reason to despair. Yet hitherto things have gone badly only because you have not done what was necessary so that they should go otherwise. It is still open to you to do what you have so far not done. Then things will go well. Why, then should you despair so soon?"
Demosthenes (385-322 BC), Greek Orator
Helen Clark's Mission and The Great Liberal Death Wish
by Bill Daly
Muggeridge's well-intentioned father was a Fabian Socialist, and as a little boy he often got to sit in on the high-minded discussions his father had with his Fabian friends. Later Muggeridge married a niece of leading Fabians Sydney and Beatrice Webb who were upheld as heros by the Soviet dictators in Moscow. When Muggeridge was later (in the 1930s) a foreign correspondent in Moscow for the Manchester Guardian he was stunned at the blindness of elitist intellectuals who would visit their hero Communist state and report lavishly on its numerous benefits. So engrossed were they in their misconceptions, aided no doubt in a few cases by the love of centralised power, that they were unable to see even what their own eyes told them of the appalling conditions and disgusting abuses by the Communist masters.
To quote Muggeridge: "The thing that impressed me, the thing that touched off my awareness of the great liberal death wish, my sense that Western Man was, as it were, sleep-walking into his own ruin, was the extraordinary performance of the liberal intelligentsia, who, in those days, flocked to Moscow like pilgrims to Mecca. And they were one and all utterly delighted and excited by what they saw there. Clergymen walked serenely and happily through the anti-God museums, politicians claimed that no system of society could possibly be more equitable and just, lawyers admired Soviet justice, and economists praised the Soviet economy. They all wrote articles in this sense which we resident journalists knew were completely nonsensical."
Muggeridge was at pains to say he put the source
of the liberal disease at the elevation of man to the centre of the
A little under a year ago Prime Minister Helen
Clark made the astounding claim that Britain's economic fortunes, as
she saw it, were due to its immigration policies (which is not to say
that many immigrants, even some from the most distant cultures don't
make significant contributions and try to live fulfilling lives). Just
a few weeks later TV One's Assignment programme took a look at the problem
of England's race riots and the ever-growing discord between the increasing
percentage of impoverished English and their frustration at watching
the Government's lavish, but largely wasted, expenditures on those parts
of Britain that look little different from the impoverished parts of
Africa or Asia or the Caribbean. The plight of those people can't be
ignored. They are the victims of a global financial imperialism that
first conquered the west and then ruthlessly dragged the rest of the
world into its clutches.
One of the latest suggestions to come from the global elitists, who claim the right to do whatever they want anywhere in the world, is that there should be some type of world body which can act in regard to disease outbreaks in the same way that the US acted against alleged "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq. The editor of New Scientist advocates this. He put it thus:
"The international community has weapons
inspectors poised to force entry into a country at the first hint that
it may possess chemical weapons. But when it comes to disease, we have
no international body empowered to take charge even though the disease
may be vastly more dangerous."
A handful of global companies have already persuaded politicians around the world that no national barriers should be put in their way. Our own government supported the failed Multilateral Agreement on Investment which would have given carte blanche to foreign corporations to operate here and making it illegal for any protection or favouritism to be given to local business and employees. The same programme is being introduced now under the General Agreement on Trade in Services.
Presumably some advocates of globalism favour force against any country that would be so "backward" as to try to protect any part of its national interests. George Bush has told us more than once that Iraq has now been freed to become an active participant in the global economy. Does the editor of New Scientist believe that if "the international community" were to think that, for example the Chinese were not handling the SARS problem adequately, then it would be justified for China to be invaded, or any other nation. Isn't this only a small step away from justifying the invasion of any country that, for example, didn't want to accept GE food or crops, or hesitated about fluoridating its citizens' drinking water, or wouldn't compulsory vaccinate their population against Meningococcal disease, (which harms or kills far fewer people than the common cold) or wouldn't privatise it's health and schooling systems, or stopped boat people from entering en mass?
Helen Clark did not support Bush's invasion of Iraq but her Government doesn't oppose global corporations that want to use their monopoly status to do whatever they desire inside New Zealand. She is a keen member of the Socialist International, as is Blair, which decries national borders and any other mechanism that allows local people anywhere to retain sovereignty of their own affairs. In the end is this not a result of the liberal mind which firstly seeks to undermine national and cultural traditions, especially any Western Christian influences; then denies any unique differences between individuals, families, communities, nations and races; this in turn leading to the faulty notions of equality, anti-discrimination, the denial of individual uniqueness and the thoughtless claim that national borders are the cause of wars and so should be abolished; and finally to the acceptance that to impose their New Order of world peace and joy there needs to be a mechanism, an international police force or army, capable of imposing it because the masses are too stupid to see that this programme is for their own good?
And the elitist advocates of globalism, from politicians to free-marketers, to the controllers of the monopolised money creation system and their offshoots, the giant corporations, seem incapable of seeing the results of their policies for what they really are.
Helen Clark heads a government that has recently tightened, or appeared to do so, our immigration laws. If reports are anything to go by future immigration will be slightly more favourable to applicants from Europe and the US. Yet, Clark said only a few weeks ago that the Auckland suburb of Mt Albert is 56 percent white, with various percentages after that of Maori, Pacific Islander, Asian and others. Clark said that this is fine, if this is what the future of New Zealand is to be that's great, she said.
On the surface there is some shallow justification for this opinion. Many streets in Mt Albert are quite safe, most residents of all groups are pleasant. But the police already have a huge problem there and some other parts of Auckland with fights between different Pacific Island groups or Islanders and Somalis. Mt Albert is one small part of a larger nation. It or any other small area, can't be seen in isolation of the whole. How would a place like Mt Albert fare if it were not surrounded by a nation which is still dominated by a host culture with traditions that extend back thousands of years. By the time the rest of New Zealand is reduced to 56 percent European, Mt Albert is more likely to resemble something akin to Haiti.
Crime is higher in all those parts of Auckland
where there are the greatest mixture of races. There is more rubbish
lying about. There are more vicious dogs. There are more domestic problems
and violence. And they are the areas where police hate to be based.
The Police have recently recruited 150 ex-English policemen in a desperate
attempt to fill vacancies. The police shortage in Auckland is acute.
Hardly anyone wants to join despite quite good wages and plenty of healthy
unemployed young people. Many police leave after only three or four
years, or less. One of our readers teaches a night school class and
a student, a policeman, told him, in respect to the 150 English recruits,
that "A couple of domestics in South Auckland or incidences between
Islanders and Somalis will sort them out."
But what would she say about house ads in newspaper in cities of South East Asia. In Singapore, for example, it is perfectly normal practice when advertising a house for sale to add "Chinese area", or "Malay area". The people and governments of these countries are more honest. They don¹t pretend that human nature is anything other than natural and so they don't attempt to impose "re-education" programmes and enact "hate laws". They recognise what is normal and allow nature to do its work in an organic way and so they don't have the same degree of racial tensions and problems of the liberal western cities.
If there were really no differences between races and cultures the question can be asked why we went to England to recruit new policemen. Why not Ethiopia, or China, or Somalia, or even Italy or France? Even liberal politicians and politically correct police chiefs have to accept reality some times. And might it be that even Clark can'¹t escape the fact that the immigration policy of the past two to three decades has strained the police, health, social welfare and school systems, especially in Auckland, but not only there, to breaking point. Is this why there has been some attempt to make changes to immigration?
Auckland is on its way to becoming a disparate appendage of New Zealand, an untidy, congested place made up of various enclaves, the sort of place other New Zealanders should visit to learn how not to do things. Already it is a political and economic drain on the rest of New Zealand. Auckland is actually proof that forced multi-racialism does not work, unless the desired outcome is deliberately intended to be less social harmony.
It is the same story in numerous other western cities. There are endless examples of good neighbourliness between different kinds of people. But enforced large scale racial and cultural mixing only forces people to create little "nations" within the larger nation. The desire of almost everyone to live among people of their own kind is a trait of all people. It is not economic pressure that causes, say, most Pacific Islanders, to live in parts of South Auckland. Some of these areas are quite nice, and some homes have better than average incomes. The very pleasant Eastern-Auckland suburb of Howick is split predominantly into two parts - white and Chinese. It was a law of nature that caused this.
No doubt Helen Clark and others of her ilk who
love to work their way into positions of arbitrary power, will continue
their damage as long as they can. If there is anything appealing about
Helen Clark it is that she gets things done. She and her Cabinet have
some appeal when compared to the sanctimonious, hazy, lazy National
mob that previously held office. She is though, a strange creature,
only explainable, perhaps, by the explanation offered by Muggeridge.
She acts like a missionary when it comes to the multi-racialising of
New Zealand. She prefers to host homosexuals and lesbians (so long as
they are also PC) and PC types at her functions. One would look long
and hard to find a down to earth farmer or tradesman or full time mother
at any such function. Yet Helen Clark loves the classical music, literature
and artwork that can only be called a product of "old Europe".
And in the meantime a new advertising campaign is to be launched to "educate" us all against racist thoughts - another "hug a migrant" scheme as Winston Peters reportedly called it.
Recommended Reading: The Great Liberal Death Wish by Malcolm Muggeridge. $5 posted.
* * *
"There was, it seemed to me, a built in propensity in this liberal world-view whereby the opposite of what was intended came to pass. Take the case of education. Education was the great mumbo-jumbo of progress, the assumption being that educating people would make them grow better and better, more and more objective and intelligent. Actually, as more and more money is spent on education, illiteracy is increasing. And I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't end up with virtually the whole revenue of the western countries being spent on education, and a condition of almost total illiteracy resulting therefrom. It's quite on the cards. . ."
"I feel so strongly at the end of my
life that nothing can happen to us in any circumstances that is not
part of God's purpose for us. Therefore, we have nothing to fear, nothing
to worry about, except that we should rebel against His purpose, that
we should fail to detect it and fail to establish some sort of relationship
with Him and His divine will. On that basis, there can be no black despair,
no throwing in of our hand. We can watch the institutions and social
structures of our time collapse - and I think you who are young are
fated to watch them collapse - and we can reckon with what seems like
an irresistibly growing power of materialism and materialist societies.
But, it will not happen that this is the end of the story. . ."
The National Party
Maurice Williamson, National MP for Pakuranga, has called on his party to put its leader Bill English on a performance contract. If English can't get the party up to a rating of 30 percent in public polls, then the leader should go. One wit, in a letter to an editor column, warns that since government advisers and heads of departments and state-owned enterprises get huge redundancy payments when they are dismissed this idea might backfire on the Nationals and cost them a lot of money.
Williamson was the Minister in the last National Government who illegally introduced the new photo-drivers license against massive public feeling. A court even ruled the action illegal but accepted that by then the new licence was a fait accompli. Might we suggest that National's low public rating has even more to do with its record in office, when it acted with even greater disdain for public feelings than the present Clark Government. Clark is hard working and gets things done which certainly isn't always a good thing because of her philosophy. But many people think she is preferable for this reason than recent National Government leaders who seemed to prefer to respond to nearly every problem with little other than another public relations exercise.
When Labour supports Socialist International policies like the International Criminal Court and GATS and running down the military, that is what we expect, because that's what the party leaders believe in. When National, while in office goes along with the same programmes it is rightly seen as having betrayed its once stated conservative view. In fact just what does the National Party now stand for?
If Bill English wants to boost his and his party's public popularity he could start with an apology for the large gap that existed between government actions and public feelings during the 1990-99 National Government. People have not yet forgotten their arrogance. If he were to vigorously pursue the announcement that National might run its own private referendum on the Privy Council, and firmly commit the party to enacting binding referenda, or at least promise to hold binding public referenda, if elected, on several prominent issues, that might help him.
Bill English's strength is that he is seen as a pleasant family man. He probably is. His weakness is that he simply doesn't stand for anything. There is no guts or intuition there and merely speaking in a louder voice doesn't overcome that. At the last election he desperately tried to capitalise on many issues. It appeared that he would read that morning's newspaper, then make some vague announcement about it, and the next day repeat the exercise with a new issue.
English has spent his life dealing in abstractions, trained in the artless world of figures, and he is surrounded by people who think the same way. The National Party, not just English, is in its present state the Labour Party's greatest ally.
The Privy Council and Justice
Most of us have an instinct of what is meant by justice but the fact is that the administration of justice, as opposed to the principle, is often not a straight forward matter. All parents know how difficult it can be to make the best or most just decision concerning their children. Employers or sports coaches regularly face the same difficulty. Often there simple isn't time, or it's impractical, to go into all details of a particular situation. But compared to the criminal justice system these are smaller matters and with hindsight mistakes can be corrected.
The court system has evolved over thousands of years. In the British context the modern court system - allowing time for deliberations, taking into account extenuating circumstances, representation by experts in the law, right of appeal - has developed and evolved over more than a 1000 years. Despite many failings and even periods of serious corruption or misuse of the court system it has survived and demonstrated that it is also capable, now and then, of reform. A tribute to the system is surely that the American colonies keep all its essentials, including trial by ones peers (a Jury), after the War of Independence. Britain's other colonies all maintained the basic essentials and practises of the British justice and court systems after their independence, some maintaining the British Privy Council as their final court of appeal.
Several years ago, under the anti-British Prime Ministership of Paul Keating, Australia dropped the Privy Council as its highest Court. Now New Zealand's Attorney General Margaret Wilson, a one-time admirer of Lenin, is doing the same here. She has the support of Prime Minister Clark and the Labour Party and the National Opposition hasn't been interested in opposing the move. Yet, Wilson has probably been surprised at the degree of opposition to dropping the Privy Council. Up to 80 percent of lawyers are reported to oppose the change and letters to editors show there is a general public mistrust, especially since appointees to her new Supreme Court will be chosen by her.
Margaret Wilson is a Cabinet Minister. The word minister comes from the Latin and means "servant" or "helper". Ministers of the Government have their origin from the time of King George the 1st who was German and first English King of the House of Hanover and could not speak English. Sir Robert Walpole was for a time his chief helper (Prime Minister). Walpole was competent and is credited with bringing a sense of unity to the cabinet system (Can we also blame him in part for the awful party system?).
These days we are far removed in practice from
the idea that a government minister is a "servant". More urgent
than reform of the courts, though there is plenty of room for improvement,
is surely the reform of the Cabinet System, which is a dictatorship,
ever angling for greater arbitrary power. Cabinet has no power over
the Privy Council, other than it being the Council's role to make rulings
according to New Zealand law.
The reason we have retained the Privy Council until now was soundly based on the view that very often the best judgements will be made by people least likely to be influenced by emotional or personal considerations. Isn't this the very reason why jurors are chosen from among people who have no connection with the parties involved. Margaret Wilson's object is not to strengthen New Zealand's legal independence, it is to further the arbitrary powers of Cabinet and Cabinet Ministers, which is exactly what has developed - though at a faster pace - in Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe over the last 25 years.
If Wilson and the Labour Government were interested in greater legal independence for New Zealand why are they hell-bent on dragging us further into the maze of United Nations and other international conventions, including the new International Criminal Court. Under the ICC a New Zealand subject may later on be charged with, say, a "hate crime" or a "crime against humanity", even if there is no similar such crime in New Zealand law. Or, someone could be found innocent of an allegation under New Zealand law but then face a further charge before the ICC.
The Privy Council has never had the sort of power or control over New Zealanders Margaret Wilson is content to give to the ICC. If any fair case could be made for our departure from the Privy Council it is that the awful Tony Blair is stacking the Lords and the Council with his own sorts of people. But Blair is a fellow-Socialist to Wilson and Helen Clark. Recent events, in particular the now widely publicised abuse of "paying for justice" clearly indicate that the Justice system needs fixing.
A foreign student, with no drivers licence, drives a car at high speed and with reckless abandon, ignores a chasing police car and finally stops with the mangled and dead body of a little four-year-old girl jammed between the car and a concrete wall. He had lied to his parents to get the money for the car. Then an appeal judge reduces his two year jail sentence to one year because the parents had offered $40,000 to the dead girl's family or a charity of their choosing. The prison reduction was made before the money was accepted and after the girl's mother had said she didn't want it. Perhaps the Chinese student and his family were genuinely repentant, but how do we know that the $40,000 was not simply seen in the context of the common Chinese practise of bribery. And how does the one year sentence stack up against many other longer sentences for lesser crimes?
It is not uncommon now for the police to also add the charge of manslaughter when careless driving results in a death. The Chinese student escaped this charge, but would a young forth or fifth generation New Zealander have been so fortunate? The little girl and her family are just further additions to the very long list of mistreated and ignored victims of crime in New Zealand. It has taken this case to publicly expose the gross misuse of "reparation payments" to have sentences reduced which is at least one good thing. Until now the Government has conveniently ignored it.
The very notion of reparation payments was another example of the liberal mentality that crime is a social disease and not at all the fault of criminals. To rub salt into many wounds there is not even a system in place to ensure that the reparations are paid. One lady, nearly killed by a recklessly driven bus was to receive $2,000 from the offending driver, a former traffic officer. (Weekend Herald, July 12-13, 2003). Seven years later she has received $50, and many payments in other cases have simply been written off by the prison service because they can't collect them. Margaret Wilson hasn't shown the slightest interest in improving real justice - instead she displays the typical anti-British, anti-traditional reaction so typical of the tax-payer-educated liberal elitists.
Goldsmith on Globalism & Free Trade
In a December 6, 1993 Washington Times interview, Anglo-French financier Sir James Goldsmith, warned that GATT will mean social upheaval and political instability bringing far worse global consequences than the Bolshevik Revolution. Here in part, are Goldsmith's highly provocative remarks:
"Global free trade will force the poor of the rich countries to subsidise the rich in the poor countries. What GATT means is that our national wealth, accumulated over centuries, will be transferred from a developed country like Britain. . . to developing countries like China, now building its first ocean-going navy in 500 years. China, with its 1.2 billion people, three Indochinese states with 900 million, the former Soviet republics, with some 300 million, and many more can supply skilled labour for a fraction of Western costs. Five dollars in China is the equivalent of a $100 wage in Europe. It is quite amazing that GATT is sowing the seeds for global social upheaval and that it is not even the subject of debate in America. . . If the masses understood the truth about GATT, there would be blood in the streets of many capitals.
A healthy national economy has to produce a large
part of its own needs. It cannot simply import what it needs and use
its labour force to provide services for other countries. We have to
rethink from top to bottom why we have elevated global free trade to
the status of a sacred cow, or moral dogma. It is a fatally flawed concept
that will impoverish and destabilise the industrialised world while
cruelly ravaging the Third World".
Supreme Court interference
Much of the debate over a New Zealand Supreme Court and abolishing the right of appeal to the Privy Council has been on what each represents symbolically. But this focus neglects the important foundations of our legal system. Dumping the right of appeal to the Privy Council will weaken the foundations of common law. Common law has a strong historical base and has been carefully refined over centuries. Most importantly, it prevents the law from being "captured" by fashions, fads or patronage.
Removing association with the Privy Council will further isolate New Zealand from the roots of common law. Attorney-General Margaret Wilson argues that retaining links with the Privy Council will inhibit the independent development of law in Commonwealth countries and can be viewed as interference with a country's power to regulate it own jurisdiction. Increasingly however, New Zealand permits what can be termed "interference" with a power to regulate its own jurisdiction from the United Nations.
Moreover, we are now party to approximately 1,450 bilateral treaties with other countries and 1,080 multilateral treaties. Each treaty has not only rights but binding obligations, and nearly 200 Acts of Parliament - more than a quarter of the total number - are required to implement these obligations. Rt. Hon. Justice Kenneth Keith has observed that this figure shows the 'pervasive effect of international law on our national law'. If the influence of the Privy Council is removed, judges and Parliament will continue to look to the United Nations and international treaties will have even greater impact on our national law and ability to be independent.
of history are clear: excessive centralisation of power always produces
destructive friction between both individuals and groups. . ."
Dr Robert Anderson is a member of Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Genetics (www.psrg.org.nz or The Secretary, PSRG, 440 Otumoetai Rd, Tauranga). The following statement from him appeared in Pat Booth's column in Auckland's Central Leader, May 21,2003. The statement follows the decision of the Government to allow future GE experimentation of crops in New Zealand:
impelled to write and congratulate you on exposing the truth of the
summary findings on the genetic engineering issue. In fact, the entire
report has been carefully misinterpreted. From the very beginning this
controversy has been assiduously marked by a staunch determination to
ignore those scientists and informed public who express any form of
alternative view as Luddite and coming from, as you so aptly put it,
"the sandal-and-beard brigade". Industry quickly denigrated the recent
findings of one of our world's eminent scientists, Professor Alan Cooper,
after his findings that "GE plant DNA that has persisted in some soils
for 400,000 years has implications for people planning the release of
genetically engineered crops and animals". Nothing must interfere with
their frenzied drive to release these organisms, the bizarre fact that
no consumers want them being irrelevant.
If we reflect on the products of biotechnology
in the field of therapeutics, the prestigious British medical journal
'The Lancet' commented that there was "very little to show for much
investment. The two best known products, human insulin and interferon,
have failed to fulfil expectations, the former causing a wave of hypoglycaemic
episodes when it was introduced and the latter proving of minor therapeutic
value in a wide range of conditions." The hepatitis B vaccine and erythropoietin,
widely used in the treatment of anaemia in chronic renal failure, have
been marginally successful. However, the GE-anaemia drug, Eprex,1 has
shown that the body rejects these "natural proteins" created and treats
them as invading germs - not really the idea of the technology. By carefully
choosing recommendations that suit them, the Government has been able
to appease industry and at the same time allay the fears of a concerned
public by setting up the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification; a
commission which subpoenaed no evidence and was not held under oath
- a very singular omission to an office representing the highest court
in the land. Then again, as Margaret Wilson assured me: "I'm sure no
one lied to them."
Almost completely unreported was a conference and founding of a new scientific body in Britain called the Independent Science Panel with twenty-five initial scientist-members deeply concerned at the dangers posed by GM. The UK's Environment Minister Michael Meacher even addressed the conference. He clearly has serious reservations about GE and has since been in the Blair Government's "hot box". An excellent statement issued by the Independent Science Panel can be obtained from Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Genetics (see above), or from the website of the excellent UK Journal Science In Society (www.i-sis.org.uk)
Advocates of GE smear scientists opposed to them as "not belonging to the main stream". But this hypocrisy is exposed when the links between GE advocates and the monopoly drug and seed companies is demonstrated. These companies are closely linked to governments, particularly in the US. Some are extensions of or closely interwoven with the larger military manufacturers and military supply contract companies. Commenting on the links between the US Government and some large military supply companies an investigative lawyer said there is not a revolving door between the companies and the government. There is no door, there isn't even a wall, he said. (recent TV programme that looked at the connection between Dick Cheney and military contract company Haliburton)
In May the Australian Government, through its Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA), closed down Pan Pharmaceuticals, the forth largest manufacturer of vitamins and mineral supplements in the world. The TGA suspended the company's entire operation for 6 months and ordered a recall of all its 1,369 products, which were quickly incinerated in a waste disposal operation normally used for getting rid of toxic chemicals. One of the 1,369 products, a travel sickness pill, had been found to be defectively manufactured.
The TGA hasn't made any health risk claims against the other 1,368 products, it just recalled and destroyed all stock. We aren't unaffected by all this because the Australian and New Zealand governments are moving to eventually place this country under the same TGA regime. The story of this extreme action, and the hypocrisy of the TGA, is fully told in an article by Eve Hillary in the June issue of our contemporary, The New Times Survey.
Hillary documents how the TGA has on numerous occasions ignored complaints of serious side effects, including convulsions, reported by people using over-the-counter and prescribed synthetic drugs. One drug, Zyban, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, and advertised as an anti-smoking aid, is permitted by the TGA to be sold in Australia, even though there are dozens of documented deaths and illnesses attributed to it in Canada, the UK and Australia. Zyban has previously been marketed under other names as an anti-depressant and fat-buster. GlaxoSmithKline or the TGA can't even demonstrate that Zyban has been "thoroughly tested", yet it is marketed without restraint.
There are numerous prescribed over-the-counter synthetic drugs that have been banned over the years in Australia and elsewhere, in fact most people don't know that there are in fact thousands which have been banned after reports of deaths and serious side effects. This mostly happens with no publicity and the companies are seldom censored, even when their research and testing has been shown to be defective. The companies manufacturing and marketing them have not been banned from all operations. Unlike the giant, Government-subsidised (via Health Departments and hospitals) synthetic drug manufacturers, Pan Pharmaceuticals and other Australian natural health manufacturers have continually and rigorously been audited by the TGA and no problems were reported in the past.
Mayne Health, a large health care company whom Pan supplied say their company had regularly conducted their own rigorous testing of Pan products and found no cause for concern. The publicity in Australia over the Pan recall was massive and spilled over into the New Zealand press. But how much publicity did we get about a recent US Government action against the giant Bayer Corporation. The following report came from the email newsletter of 'The Campaign For Truth In Medicine' (http://campaignfortruth.com/Eclub/070503/bayer.htm):
"In the largest Medicaid fraud settlement, Bayer agreed yesterday to pay the government $257 million and pleaded guilty to a criminal charge after engaging in what federal prosecutors said was a scheme to overcharge for the antibiotic Cipro. According to documents turned over to the government by a whistle-blower, Bayer was coached in the scheme by a purchasing manager from Kaiser Permanente, one of the nation's largest health care organisations. The fraud involved selling Cipro to Kaiser at prices lower than the company was charging Medicaid, in violation of a federal law that requires drug makers to give the Medicaid program the lowest price charged to any customer. To cover up the fraud, the Cipro bottles sold to Kaiser were re-labelled with Kaiser's name and given a different drug identification number (New York Times, 17th April 2003)."
Or, how much media publicity has been given to
a recent complaint made to the International Criminal Court against
several named drug companies, their executives and a number of politicians
and business magnets. The wording of the action is: Complaint Against
Genocide and Other Crimes Against Humanity Committed in Connection With
The Pharmaceutical 'Business With Disease'. This complaint is submitted
to the International Criminal Court by Matthias Rath MD and others on
behalf of the people of the world. The Hague, June 14, 2003. Surely
a story like this warrants some publicity.
New Zealand consistently rates as one of the least corrupt countries in the world. It is surprising then, to discover the extent of so-called 'snouts in the trough' - largely unpublicised political appointments to public boards, directorships and committees. In a series of articles this week, political journalist Colin Espiner has revealed some important findings. The list for 2002 is comprised of mostly ex-MPs and even unsuccessful parliamentary candidates.
Ex-cabinet minister David Caygill, for example, received $106,500 for heading an electricity inquiry, and an extra $50,000 as chairman of the ACC; while former Council of Trade Union boss Ken Douglas received $57,346 for three directorships. Labour list candidate Warren Limburg received $45,000 for sitting on the Human Rights Commission. The list goes on - up to 900 such appointments are made each year. Labour promised to scale-down runaway public sector (quango*) appointments after taking office in 1999, but without much will or effort. None of the beneficiaries of this political patronage is appointed by any open process. Moreover, what we are witnessing is an expansion of bureaucracy, which left unchecked, threatens the effectiveness of, and public confidence in government.
In 1979, constitutional lawyer and MP Geoffrey
Palmer said it was time to halt the growth of quangos. The aim should
be [he said] to eliminate as many as possible and ensure that those
which remain are properly accountable to the public through Parliament
and work in a way which serves the public interest.
"If these questions are rigorously pursued
by a parliamentary committee, many quangos could be killed off, others
reorganised and limits placed upon the creation of new ones."
Well said. What then, can be done? We must be
informed and indignant about what's going on and demand that procedures
are opened-up to public scrutiny without patronage. We also do well
to remember that ordinary citizens, not politicians, are the gatekeepers
of democracy - we have a right to demand answers to the hard questions.
Elites Have Only the Citizens and Democracy to Fear
The following is the major portion of an article by James Allen in the National Business Review of June 9
Don't you just love it when some member of the elite or other tells you an issue is too complicated for you to understand? The former president of the Court of Appeal, Lord Cooke, was recently speaking before a parliamentary select committee. He was telling the justice select committee why he endorsed Attorney-General Margaret Wilson's plans to scrap the Privy Council. He said New Zealand should "take charge of our own judicial destiny." But apparently he did not mean the citizens should have any say in what would be their highest court, because he roundly dismissed the notion of holding a referendum on whether the contentious Supreme Court proposal should go ahead. "I think the subject is far too complicated for a referendum," he said. "I tremble at the thought of how one might try to educate the electorate in the issues involved."
Lord knows, people might vote in a referendum because they have a sentimental attachment to the Privy Council. Or they might think overseas judges are more impartial or talented. Or they might find the quota-driven mentality behind insisting on having one judge with an understanding of tikanga Maori to be offensive. Or people might simply be a tad uneasy at the prospect of Ms Wilson and Helen Clark doing what no other democratically elected government in the western world has ever done - replacing an existing highest court with a new one, all of whose members were chosen exclusively by them.
Here's the problem with this sort of noblesse oblige attitude, an attitude that permeates the entire Labour government. Democracy means people can decide issues, especially fundamental issues such as what will be the nation's highest court, on whatever grounds they choose. That is the price all of us pay for living in a democracy rather than in a society run by elites who purport to be motivationally pure and to have greater insight and education than the rest of us. Such elites may say (and even think) they know what is relevant better than the rest of us do but the fact is most of us do not trust these elites to determine for us what is and is not relevant. We worry that giving one government the power to pick all the judges of some new highest court will allow it to lock in its political agenda long after it has been defeated at the ballot box. We also fear that even our elites are sometimes driven by self-interest and the desire for personal advancement. Most telling of all, however, may be the fact - and I mean fact - that elites sometimes get it wrong, even when they overwhelmingly agree among themselves. . . By the way, here's why Ms Wilson and Ms Clark (and Lord Cooke, for that matter) really don't want a referendum. They know they would lose. And they would lose badly. This Supreme Court proposal, as it stands at present with its hand-picked new court, stinks. And that stench isn't too complicated for regular voters to smell. Nor does it require any re-education campaign. Perhaps that's the real problem and the cause of any trembling.
Press Release From Voters Voice
$40,000 buyout shows Government has failed us
"The Government has failed us" says
Steve Baron, spokesperson for Voters Voice, a lobby group campaigning
to make Citizens Initiated Referendums (CIR) binding. "The 1999
Norm Withers petition demanding tougher prison sentences sent a strong
message to the Government but it has been totally ignored. The Government
hasn't put in place any measures to make prison sentences tougher. This
is painfully obvious when $40,000 has been allowed to buy a year off
your jail sentence as is the recent case involving the Asian student"
A number of years ago in Switzerland a referendum was held to have a major overhaul of the Swiss roading system. It was defeated because the Swiss people felt it was more important to get the poor hospital system sorted first. Once that was done another referendum was held on roading and the people allowed it to pass. To trigger a nationwide referendum to make Citizens Initiated Referendums binding, Voters Voice has twelve months to collect the signatures of 10% of those people registered on the electoral roll which is approximately 300,000 signatures. They have been campaigning since the 5th May to achieve this. Petition forms can be obtained by posting a self addressed envelope to PO Box 38938, Howick, Auckland or by visiting their website at www.votersvoice.org.nz
Poorly Educated MPs
Several years ago Simon Upton, then a Cabinet Minister in the National Government, had a surprisingly good article in The Press wherein he fully endorsed the Swiss system of binding referenda. Mr Upton said that in earlier times he had felt that members of the public would not be sufficiently well enough informed to be left to make major decisions concerning the governing of the country. However, he said, his parliamentary experience had taught him that very often MPs were no better informed. On their website Voters Voice have a facility for people to email their MP (or at the push of a button, all MPs) with a brief message supporting binding referenda, and pledging only to vote in the future for candidates supporting this objective. This editor did that and a number of acknowledgments have been received, and many not.
Peter Dunne replied on behalf of the United Future
members and seems to be under the impression that "as you are no
doubt aware, there are provisions for binding referenda in New Zealand".
He is completely wrong. We don't have any provisions for binding referenda,
only "indicative" referenda. He has been asked to explain
what he means and he does say that his party is not opposed to citizens
initiated referenda being binding on some issues, but is not convinced
that all should be binding, which at least is something. Mr Dunne feels
that if we had the provision it may get over-used and people become
In a reply it was pointed out that right now most people are contemptuous of MPs and government, and that this ought to be addressed. Greens leader, Jeanette Fitzsimons, sent a lengthy and friendly reply, saying she was opposed to binding referenda. She claimed that in the US such referenda had demonstrated that those able to spend big money were able to manipulate the outcomes because of massive advertising. The following reply was sent back to her on July 3. We await her response
Dear Jeanette, Thank you very much for your
reply on Binding Citizens Initiated Referenda. I'm impressed with the
generous length and detail of your reply. However, with respect, I have
to say that you are quite wrong with many of your assumptions.
2. You say "whoever writes the question has a major influence on the outcome". This is not denied and is a well-known tactic employed at times by pollsters. But, remember that before a public referenda can be held many thousands of signatures must be gathered on a petition. Poorly written, or poorly supported petitions, simply don't get much support. There is example after example of this. We surely must have some faith in the commonsense of most people. Most of them do manage quite well to administer their own private affairs, even under trying conditions.
3. In the case of the Norm Withers' referendum, I agree with you on the problem that faced many voters. But surely the obvious solution was to split the question into 2 or even 3 parts. It was a surprise to me that the Clerk of the House approved that particular wording. After all, petitions requesting a referenda in New Zealand are sent to the Clerk of the House for help on wording and approval. The same practice applies in Switzerland and those US States and counties that use public referenda.
4. Come now, Jeanette you are surely aware that our current non-binding referenda legislation only allows a petitioner to spend up to $50,000 on his/her campaign. For about a decade up to the mid 1990s I was closely involved in this issue and almost all the information from the US showed that when large sums were spent by companies (such as cigarette companies) in virtually every instance it resulted in a public backlash when it came to how people voted. You say "the wealthy and powerful will tend to win. Remember how nearly Peter Shirtcliffe of Telecom captured the MMP referendum? This has happened many times in America." Will you please give me some examples of these American experiences.
5. You say "referenda will often be set up to disadvantage minorities", but answer this potential threat yourself when you state the NO vote by the Swiss people against a referendum that would have discriminated against foreign residents. Do you know of a successful referenda that has discriminated against a minority? I would like to know about it? If there has been no such referendum, irrespective of the outcome, then can we not assume that most people would reject any petitions with such an objective, so that they fail to even raise the required number necessary to trigger a referenda.
I've spoken to German people who lament that they do not share the same political rights as their Swiss neighbours. It would be an interesting study to examine how different Germany might have been in the 1930s and 40s if they had had the same provisions. Bear in mind that during that period the Swiss, on a per-capita basis, were probably as well if not better armed than the German military machine and might easily have also got caught up in the appalling conflict. Remember it was a referendum by the Australia people in the 1960s that gave full citizenship rights to Aboriginals. No government had previously done this. And that back in 1951, at the height of anti-Communist feelings, an Australian public referendum rejected a government proposal that the Australian Communist Party be banned.
A New Zealand political journalist, who personally opposed binding referenda, once told me he was in Switzerland when a Canton held a public-initiated referendum instructing the authorities to provide more public amenities for the disabled even though it would result in extra taxes. Because of the costs the government had previously rejected the project. I was interested that this journalist also felt that binding referenda would cause discrimination against Maoris and Aboriginals. Jim Bolger is the only other person I have heard make such a suggestion.
In the early 90s I was campaigning throughout the country and attended many public meetings, and drove a couple of speakers the length and breath of the country. I don't recall this issue ever arising even though many Maoris and people of all backgrounds attended meetings. I may be wrong but it seems to me to be mostly a concern held by those in political elitist positions. Perhaps I am further wrong or unobservant but I don't see evidence for this as I get about everyday society.
Surely our society only gets along reasonably well because in the everyday things most people are respectful of one another as individual human beings. If a public referendum on say funding for "Maori broadcasting" was rejected, would this really be discrimination against a minority? Might it not also be a rejection of political policies that might be felt to be causing social divisions. Maybe it wouldn't be rejected; neither of us know because the public are never given a say.
Please do send me the information on the effect you say the big spenders have had on US referendum outcomes. Did you ever see The Press (Christchurch) article by Simon Upton supporting binding public referenda, written while he was in the Cabinet? If not I can supply a copy. In his book Rebuilding Russia (HarperCollins,1991), Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn advocated Russia's adoption of the Swiss referendum system as essential to rebuilding that sad country after decades of dictatorship and to help with decentralisation and local reconstruction.
Sir James Goldsmith, late brother of Teddy Goldsmith, with whose environmental and anti-globalisation campaigning you are familiar, firmly supported other nations adopting the Swiss referenda system, which is outlined in his book The Trap and in articles he wrote and in lectures he gave. None of these people are infallible but they are of a stature that adds great credibility to what they say. Against them I could name a hundred or more despots (so could you) of the past and present who would, with respect, be in union with your present position on this issue.
Thank you again for the time you took to reply
and I am looking forward to getting the information mentioned above.
Former Queensland Premier Supports Binding Referenda
The following address was delivered at the Direct Democracy Seminar, Canberra, on July 28, 1994. It was given by an ex-Cabinet Minister and Queensland Premier, Russell Cooper
Mr Chairman, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and
Gentlemen, Thank you for your invitation here today. A cynical observer
might remark that the advocates of any form of direct democracy are
almost invariably found among the ranks of those not in government and
that their advocacy has little to do with giving the people a direct
voice in determining major policy issues and a lot to do with attempting
to nobble the government they oppose. I suppose this criticism could
be particularly levelled at me.
It might also be said that my advocacy of this principle seems rather late in the day because, if it is such a good idea, why didn't I do something about it while a minister or premier. Apart from the fact that it wasn't - and still isn't - Queensland National Party Policy, I plead mitigation by saying that it was outside of my portfolio area while I was minister and I hardly had enough time to shift into my office while Premier let alone do anything else - apart from move out.
It would be dishonest and hypocritical for me to stand here today advocating Direct Democracy and the virtues of ensuring that the will of the majority can be exercised and not admit that my government deserved its defeat in 1989 when the majority spoke. I became Premier knowing in my heart of hearts that catastrophic events for my party and government had proceeded beyond the point of rescue. The National Party government in 1989 would have been thrashed even if we had Mother Theresa as our leader. My government deserved to be beaten for fundamentally the same reasons the Kirner, Lawernce, Arnold and Field governments deserved to be beaten. In all our cases, there was an overwhelming public perception that our governments had all become, in varying degrees, arrogant, dishonest, distant, corrupt, venal and downright incompetent and, in politics, public perception translates into voter intent.
If the Labor Party doesn't make the same admissions about their failures as I have about mine, then they are guilty of the most breathtaking hypocrisy and deceit and have learned nothing. If your reaction to a past defeat boils down to a self-serving huffiness, then you cannot expect to regain the respect and the support of the people. Coming as I do from a small country community of some 300 people, I have always been committed to the ideals of rugged self-determination and self-help. My entry into state politics in 1983 was, in a sense, inevitable given my family's involvement over many years in state and federal politics. I like to think that many of the qualities Alexander Downer inherited to bring to his job derive from the fact that his father was my mother's cousin and, incidentally, my god-father.
I also candidly admit to the fact that my long-held belief in the principle of Direct Democracy somewhat ironically became more and more entrenched after I became a member of parliament and more and more determined after I became a minister. Any lingering illusions I cherished about what major, fundamental changes could be made faded progressively the further I moved up the ladder. I could be forgiven sometimes for wondering why in God's name I had bothered to get as far as I did when faced being told by some smug public servant, "No, you can't do that Premier."
Frankly, what are the prospects of any form of Direct Democracy being implemented in Queensland?
We don't rush into things in Queensland - it was only a few short years ago that our road engineers came up with the idea of roundabouts some two thousand years after the Romans and the present government is investigating the idea of actually putting the police "on the beat." This concept is being described as "innovative" despite the fact Sir Robert Peel used it when he formed the London Metropolitan Police in 1829 and even he didn't try and admit it was new. Actually, in Queensland, there has been a retreat from the concept over the past ninety years.
In 1908 with the passage of the Parliamentary Bills Referendum Act, the government was entitled to submit to referendum bills which had been rejected by the then Upper House, the Legislative Council. In 1916 a State Labor government passed a bill to allow for the general establishment of the machinery of government - instigated referenda. Paradoxically, one Legislative proposal of the State Labor government rejected by the then Legislative Council and never put to a referendum was one for a form of Citizens' Initiated Referenda and the retreat from the principle began. A subsequent Labor government abandoned the idea entirely. In fact a system of C.I.R. remained as Labor Party policy until they finally abandoned it in 1963 - on the motion of Don Dunstan who subsequently created a reputation for being a staunch believer in majority rule.
Despite the fact that we have had two proposals put to the popular vote in Queensland since the Labor Party came to power in 1989, we have stepped back in one very real sense from Direct Democracy and, in another very real sense, made a complete mockery of the concept. When my party was in office, any proposal to amalgamate local authorities required the approval of a majority of the voters in every authority concerned. Now we have forced amalgamations whatever local government's tawdry pretence of instituting its so-called "public consultation processes" and this was - and continues to be - exhibited as a glittering jewel in its accountability platform. For example, the government had the gall to place a toxic waste dump in my electorate and then, to add insult to injury, tried to claim it had the approval of some sort of alleged local "consultation" . In this, and so many similar circumstances, is it any wonder that people regard this so-called "consultation" process as a sham and resent bitterly not only the fact of the decision but the pack of lies trotted out to Justify it?
I said earlier that any form of Direct Democracy or C.I.R. is not Queensland National Party policy and the reasons for that are essentially the same reasons other mainstream political parties have rejected the concept - the fear that a proposal might be carried that is contrary to party policy and a rather touching belief that when the party is in government, it will naturally do all the right things and only enact and reject on the basis of what is popular. For example, one of the arguments used to reject the concept at my party's state conference in 1988 when we were in government was the fear that implementation of any such proposal could lead to the introduction of daylight saving. Such introduction, despite half-smart cracks from some southerners, would have a devastating effect on country and provincial Queensland. However, when the Labor government was forced into such a referendum and the allegedly discredited and minority National Party campaigned against it virtually single-handed, the proposal was defeated. Similarly, when the government put up a referendum proposal to extend the term of the parliament from three to four years and the National Party argued against, the "No" case won again.
In 1992, when we were in opposition, the concept was again considered by our state council and was narrowly defeated for what I believe were the worst possible reasons. Yet, at virtually the same time, when the matter was put to the entire 26-member Parliamentary National Party, the vote was unanimously in favour - and almost half of those members had served at some time as ministers. I am also here today with the blessing of our Parliamentary leader Rob Borbridge, to participate in this important discussion and with that of our senior Vice-President of the N.P.A.-Q organisation, Mr David Russell. It would be true to say that they - rather than our rank and file - had rather a better and more realistic appreciation of the facts of life in politics and what can be achieved in government.
It is not my intention or even my purpose today
to try and propose what technical steps should be in place to require
the holding of a C.I.R. and what would be required by the relevant government
in response. Rather, I want to argue in favour of the principle. If
that course of action is good enough for the Prime Minister on the republic
issue, surely it is acceptable on this by a modest Queensland state
opposition member. As I see it, all levels of government - local, state
and federal - should be subject to a form of C.I.R. direction from those
who elect them. Further, I would propose that once the electors in one
local authority or one territory or one state or the nation vote to
achieve something, then that should be the end to it. No other level
of government or anybody else for that matter should be allowed to over-ride
or qualify or otherwise seek to alter.
A form of direct democracy, with a carefully
considered sequence of deliberate steps from trigger to observance,
would be of tremendous benefit to any government because it would actually
be doing something that the majority wanted. If a government could not
stomach the result of a C.I.R. and delayed its implementation, then
it should resign. In fact, I would argue that there need be precise
measures in place to require that the relevant government faithfully
abide by the majority vote or resign or, if necessary, face the sack.
Early this century, a Queensland referendum voted in favour of compulsory Bible teaching in schools and, while some of us might still regard that as not such a bad idea, the chances of the same result today are somewhat less. If you think my position on this matter derives partially from enlightened self-interest, you are absolutely right. It would be a wonderful experience as a minister to introduce legislation based on the results of a referendum knowing that the public service couldn't muck you around, that the opposition would only come from a proven minority and the courts couldn't strike it down. On that basis alone, why any politician seeking government wouldn't accept it defies understanding.
Surely, if the concept is such a bad one and one argued by an extreme minority, why don't those who oppose it at least agree to allow it to be the subject of a referendum? If the majority rejected the concept, I would be among the first to admit that my advocacy, in the belief it was a majority view, was wrong. Until the opponents are prepared to accept that challenge, they cannot hope to argue from a position of moral or popular strength and that really does expose their arguments as shabby, desperate and arrogant rubbish.
As a possible sweetener to the objectors, I would
say that any government which is truly representative of the will of
the majority would hardly ever face a successful direct democracy proposal
contrary to its fundamental philosophy. Any government worth its salt
would recognise a build up of steam in the electorate on a particular
issue of contention and take pragmatic and practical steps to ensure
that issue was addressed. In fact, I would contend that it is ultimately
in the best interests of all governments because, if they were alert,
they could introduce a particular measure in a way closer to their own
philosophy than what might emerge from a C.I.R. and, therefore, puncture
the ballooning support for the more extreme expression of it.
Government today at all levels is increasingly complex and imposes enormous burdens on legislators. In the past, we didn't have today's avalanche of demands from a demanding and volatile electorate, we didn't have law imposed by stealth via agreement to United Nations' Protocols, we didn't have judges who believed that it was their role in life to establish law rather than elected governments and we didn't have vast bureaucratic empires which put their own continuing and expanding existence above everything else. All of these factors make a robust, unqualified and unfettered direct democracy concept vital.
In the past twenty years or so, people have become increasingly cynical about and disbelieving of the political process. They feel betrayed, isolated, ignored and totally fed up. I don't blame them and even cautiously acknowledge that the merest handful in Queensland might even blame me for their feelings. However, in defence of politicians generally, I would venture the view that it isn't entirely our own fault although we are in the unique position of being able to do something about it.
I want to deal briefly with those realities of life which prevent legislators from doing completely and exactly what the majority of the electorate demands or even, more to the point, what they believe the majority of the electorate demands. Even when considered individually, let alone together, these realities provide solid reason for the introduction of the concept.
Politicians, however hard-working and active, can never hope to honestly know what the majority of people want on all major policy issues and any politician who claims otherwise is either a liar or a fool or both. It is only human nature for all of us - including politicians - to seek the company of those we find most congenial and, while this is undeniably pleasant, it may not necessarily give us a balanced view of community expectations. In fact, it is more likely to give you a wildly distorted view because there is nobody more persuasive and intelligent than someone who agrees with you.
While I might regard anybody who referred to me as another Churchill with some circumspection, nevertheless I would find it extremely difficult to dismiss him or her as a complete ratbag and would be inclined to listen to any proffered opinions. It would be far easier, but not necessarily wiser, to escape from somebody whose opening gambit was the assertion that I was a raving fascist because, despite their plainly obvious inability to come even remotely close to a true character assessment, they might actually have something worthwhile to say on a policy matter.
Certainly, they will have the help of opinion polls and advice from all sorts of sources but, honestly, nobody can ever be really sure. It is also true that those who make the loudest noise are not necessarily the majority - I can recall the vast crowds who came out for Whitlam in 1975 after his dismissal, and, given the unprecedented extent of their defeat at that election, the Labor Party must have really given some serious thought to the often maligned strength of the silent majority. Therefore, all of us in politics need reminding from time to time of what the majority really wants. If we can be reminded in a way that, however uncomfortable it might be from a policy and philosophy perspective, doesn't mean we will lose our seats and the chance to mend our ways, we should welcome it with open arms.
Having been elected in 1983 as a backbencher member of an exclusively National Party Government, I actually believed that I would have absolutely no trouble obtaining all the services and benefits I believed my electorate needed and deserved. I was very quickly disabused of the notion and I sometimes wondered if my occasional failure was due to either my poor representation or, possibly, ministerial incompetence or indifference or both.
If citizens become frustrated and angry with a lack of action when dealing with the public service, they could reflect upon the fact that ministers suffer the same treatment on more occasions than they would care to acknowledge. Ministers, however, do enjoy the possibly dubious pleasure of having public servants being polite to their face. The added frustration of ministers is that, while knowing that they are supposed to be in charge and while liking to appear to be in charge, they can face the same creative inertia. Remember, I learned this lesson while serving as a Queensland National Party Minister and Premier and, therefore, a senior member of a political organization that had the reputation of being utterly ruthless. God only knows what ministers and premieres in meek governments ever achieve.
I discovered that public service advice was, like the curate's egg, of good and bad parts. In sadly too many ways, I didn't find "Yes Minister" all that hysterically funny because I would have been laughing at myself and my fellow-ministers of all political persuasions around the country and we have far too much dignity for that unseemly display. It is my belief that the mandarins of the public service would, almost to a person, argue against any form of direct democracy because they toil away operating on the brazen assumption that they not only know better than the people, they know better than their own minister.
While we all like to think that the noble principle of ministerial accountability is still a fundamental of our system, we must admit it has become so threadbare and so qualified that it is now often seen more in the breach than the observance. The power of the public service and the reality of life in government was no better confirmed than by the nasty jolt I received when I was told, after hearing a solid and rational case against some rule of regulation and agreeing wholeheartedly with that case, that this outrageous, obnoxious and grossly unfair bit of nonsense was introduced when I was the Premier and supposed to be running the whole show. I might add, on the credit side, it has been nice when I have been congratulated for a particularly enlightened, progressive and helpful initiative when I was the Premier or the Minister especially when I have absolutely no recall of it at all.
What all of this goes to show is that no Prime Minister, Premier or Minister can ever hope to know everything that is going on despite his or her nominal responsibility and you can't accept the praise without taking the blame. Thus the public service in its several life-forms as departments or as statutory bodies has enormous power. For example, sometimes the effects of something as explained to a Minister by a briefing officer can be seen as radically different by the end-user - which means voter - yet the Minister must trust his or her adviser and wear the consequences.
The demands and pressures on ministers and other politicians mean increasing delegation and, in effect, a further retreat from truly representing the people. While we deplore that, we often have no choice. If it is difficult enough explaining to people why something did or didn't happen when you were in charge, it is impossible to explain to them why an increasing body of law in this country is derived from the Federal Governments' flagrant abuse of its Foreign Affairs power. Simply, I see that abuse as a corruption of the Constitution and will never accept that we should have law based on an executive decision to sign some United Nations' protocol and, therefore, be accountable to some obscure committee which may well comprise some of the most corrupt and brutal dictatorships on the planet.
In this context, I am more than just bemused by the fact that those who argued that appeals to the privy council in London should be abolished because they diminished our judicial sovereignty are now among the ranks of those justifying this tugging of the forelock to U.N. committees. I might add that the idea that we can't discipline our children because of our agreement to that U.N. Rights Of The Child Convention, for example, has a far greater impact on average Australians than deciding whether or not we have a republic. However, the government which merrily signs these U.N. Conventions and protocols asserts the view that a republic would make us "independent".
There is an increasing and deliberate tendency for judges to take upon themselves the role of "interpreting" the law and not simply upholding and enforcing it. I do not subscribe, and never will subscribe, to any notion that highly paid lawyers have any better idea of what social policy should be than any other citizen and I do not accept that elevation to any bench somehow equates to elevation to the right hand of God. Judges who strike down laws enacted by elected governments because they see themselves as the "conscience" of society are striking at the very heart of democracy. I suppose we do have Citizens' Initiated Referenda in this country but only to the extent that the citizens have to be on the High Court. If courts are allowed to, in effect, fiddle about with a directly-voted majority view for any reason, then the whole concept will fall flat on its face and that will be the final blow to any hope of a genuine, participatory democracy. If courts do try to do anything beyond ensuring that the will of the majority is enforced, then they should be sent packing because there should be no greater power than the will of the majority.
I openly acknowledge - as all advocates of the concept would - that, politically, it is a two-edged sword. Frankly, if the majority of people in Queensland expressed themselves in favour of, for example, abortion on demand and the complete decriminalisation of marijuana via referenda, I would have to reconsider my personal objections and the reasons in favour long and hard. Certainly, I would argue strenuously against such proposals and hope that the "No" cases in both instances won, but I wouldn't deny people the right to their say on these important issues simply because I feared my side might lose.
Similarly, those on the left in politics would have very good reason to fear the results of referenda on the Mabo decision or Immigration policy or any number of laws introduced by stealth via the Federal Government's signing of the United Nations Protocols. However, if their committment to democracy is genuine, they would argue their case and then calmly accept the result. It really would be truly "power to the people" and all of the bastards would really be kept honest.
Mr Chairman, the ultimate challenge to those involved in politics is to ensure that all Australians honestly feel that they do have a real say in how they are governed. The people are rightly dissatisfied with the ritual dances of election campaigns every two, three or four years with all their slogans, jingles, cliches and concentration on a few personalities and they want to take back the right to a real self-determination of their own lives and society. Thank you.
Air New Zealand and the Railways
Ralph Norris, present head of Air New Zealand, and successful figures man, claims the airline is too small to survive into the future. The common saying is "in today's market". Mr Norris is pushing hard to let Australia's Qantas purchase the major stake in Air New Zealand. Yet Qantas is in financial trouble. It is sheading thousands of jobs, following the sheading earlier of thousands of other jobs. Several years ago Qantas swallowed its smaller domestic opponent Ansett. Has this put Qantas into "a stronger position" to meet the "demands of today's market"? Apparently not.
Air New Zealand used to be owned by the Government. Then it was sold by a former Labour Government. The two men most responsible were Roger Douglas and Richard Prebble. Roger Douglas has been described by his friend and MP Rodney Hide as a man who doesn't understand words, only figures. In an interview in Metro magazine last year Hide spoke about a book he co-authored with Douglas. For one of the chapters Douglas presented him with a graph he had written up on some tissue paper on an aeroplane along with the request for Hide to put some words to it. How many recall Douglas back in the 1980s saying that New Zealand's future lay with sharemarket trading and that it would be necessary to replace farming with this as the nation's backbone.
Richard Prebble was responsible for selling many government assets and some of them certainly could have been better administered. But all that happened was that private, predominantly foreign owners, reaped massive fortunes, while our unemployment figures rose ever upward. Air New Zealand and the Railways were sold. The merchant bankers Fay Richwhite were hired to value the Railways and then were allowed to purchase a large shareholding ahead of a public issue of shares. Air New Zealand went too. The airline and railways are both a part of the economic infrastructure of the country and when Air New Zealand got itself into financial trouble through almost unbelievable mismanagement, for which none of the managers were ever held to account and retired with massive handouts, the present Clark Government was forced to buy it back and pay off a massive debt - just as it is having to closely watch over the future of the now bankrupt Railways.
By international standards Air New Zealand is
quite small. Qantas is considerably larger. British Airways is very
large and so is United. So also is Singapore Airlines. United is trading
in bankruptcy. British Airways and Singapore Airlines are in serious
trouble and frantically attempting to cut costs. Qantas knows it must
seriously cut its costs if it is to survive. Why then is it so vital
for Air New Zealand to become a small part of a bigger Qantas? Is it
a devotion to the "big is best" dogma no matter what evidence
there may be to the contrary?
There is surely two opposing world views at work here.
One is the world of abstractions, of figures.
The figures tell us that we must have massive immigration so there will
be enough tax payers to pay for an "aging population", and
that we must close our little industries down and import prison-labour
goods from China. If the figures say that we must see people taxed out
of their own homes, or allow house and land prices to escalate beyond
what most can earn, or have poverty amidst physical plenty, no matter,
the all-important Market must be obeyed.
The other world view is that we live on an abundant planet. With good management - which experience demonstrates is best done by decentralisation and the widest possible spread of private property and personal sovereignty - there is plenty for everyone. That with the thousands of years of development of the "cultural heritage" (inventions from the wheel to the internal combustion engine, to knowledge of flight and chemistry, to the invention of the zero and mathematics and computers, etc.) it simply is not necessary to have "full employment"; that a very small and decreasing number of people can provide the material needs of all, or alternatively a small number of working hours by a larger number of people.
Big is not always best and efficiency ought to be a measure of human satisfaction. The purpose of the accountancy system called money is to facilitate the smooth functioning of the business-production system and the distribution of manufactured goods to those consumers desiring them. The late Dr. Geoffrey Dobbs, leading British scientist and Social Crediter, once said that he had never successfully convinced anyone who had completed at least one year of economics or accountancy that a system of figures should reflect physical reality, and if they don't then they ought to be corrected. They were already too absorbed into that world of abstraction. That was his personal experience though there are certainly exceptions such as Herman Daly, formerly of the World Bank, who now campaigns against globalism.
Might it not be more sensible to keep Air New Zealand small and that way it will remain more protected from the debt-ridden world of the bigger airlines. Perhaps it would be strengthened by actually being made smaller - and leave the others to fight over the long international routes. The banks will allow those large companies to trade indefinitely, even in bankruptcy. Its far preferable that the banks do the future bailouts rather than taxpayers.
There is one particularly interesting constitutional point in respect of the recent passing of the Prostitution Bill. The political parties allowed their members a conscience vote, and this made all MPs vulnerable to public pressure. Numerous people were prompted to write or email MPs. Some MPs said they were getting an average of six emails every hour and it was having an influence on how they might vote. It demonstrated in a little way that when people feel they may be able to have an influence on government many take the opportunity. It is only a delusion that the bill will make prostitution safer and protect prostitutes from exploitation. It will add to the costs of local governments who are expected now to administer the licensing of brothels.
If the new law is to be truly consistent, and considering that it is illegal for employers to discriminate on the grounds of sex and age, then a brothel could, hypothetically, be prosecuted for refusing "sex work" to an ugly and overweight 65 year-old bloke. And what of a brothel advertising at the labour exchange for a "sex worker"? Might a pretty young lass, innocent to the bone and a virgin to boot, be denied the dole if she refuses to apply for that position? For now that's unlikely, though it could happen, but that would require a "moral judgement" on the part of the social welfare employee and this government is opposed to "moral judgements".
A reader points out that after the Bill was passed, its promoter, MP Tim Barnett, said ". . . we have now got rid of the last vestige of Victorian morality on our statute books. . ."Our reader comments: "Well, I don't know what the previous law on prostitution had to do with the reign of the late HM Q. Victoria, may God give rest to her soul? But in saying that he acknowledges what he has denied all along: that he had no moral position on prostitution; and, I feel, justifies my contention that it is an impossibility to be morally neutral"
"True to the devilish-spirit of political correctness, when the bill was in its final debate a group of prostitutes in the public gallery were permitted on several occasions to applaud the speeches in favour of the bill. It is normally not permitted for the public to make any noise at all from the gallery - so why did Speaker Jonathon Hunt let it pass this time?
Claiming the Sea Shore
In the August, 2003, issue of Metro magazine Labour MP John Tamihere is reported as saying he can understand why many people have had a gutsful of the never-ending Treaty of Waitangi claims. He goes so far as to use the word 'bullshit". It is not very long ago when such statements would have had him evicted from the Labour Party, yet he remains on the shortlist as a possible future Minister of Maori Affairs. It is a sign of the times when Government leaders are prepared to look the other way over such comments. They have not even been widely reported. Perhaps they also reflect the mood of some other MPs - not that they are saying it out loud.
What is nicknamed the "Waitangi Grievance Industry" has now laid claim to the sea shores. Even the most liberal of Prime Ministers knows it would be political suicide to concede to this, though she has for now fallen back from her earlier threat to pass legislation disallowing the claim, in the hope that an appeasement process might work. News coverage of the sea shore claim buried the earlier claims for tribal ownership of mineral rights. No New Zealand land owner has mineral rights. Whether this is, or isn't fair, it was established under British law a long time ago.
In the July 17 issue of its email newsletter the Maxim Institute summed up the Government's dilemma
Previous governments have not had to think beyond common usage issues and traditional rights for Maori under the Waitangi Tribunal process. The focus has been the settlement of historic and resource claims. But the idea that the foreshore and seabed could become commercial property for Maori goes beyond the ambit of the Treaty and Tribunal and provokes fears of 'special treatment'. The Government is faced with a Hobson's choice: if it legislates to assert Crown ownership it will incur the wrath of Maori leaders; and if it concedes to the demands of the ' Declaration' (the hui last weekend), it faces a backlash from non-Maori. We are at this point because of a particular interpretation of Maori claims. Until now, tensions between redressing historical grievances within a common law framework have generally been held in balance. But on this issue, there's no clear way ahead; either a particular legal interpretation of 'indigenous rights' will prevail, or a common law one.
But isn't this only the chickens coming home to roost? Anyone silly enough to have ever believed that once the initial claims made under the Treaty of Waitangi were settled then those involved would close up shop and head home, was living in a fantasy. And to keep it going in perpetuity a whole new language has been developed. The Treaty of Waitangi came to be called "a living document" and the "founding document" of New Zealand. The billions of dollars paid to "settle claims" have not aided in the least the vast majority of Maoris. Although it would still not make the process right, if a good number of Maori families had ended up with their own debt-free houses, for instance, then at least some good would have come from it.
But the most accurate description of what has
actually happened can be seen in light of one particular description
of foreign aid, which is that it is taking from the poor in the rich
countries to give to the rich in the poor countries. Billions of dollars
have been taken mostly from poorer whites (and many Maori) and given
to a few rich Maori (and hanger-on whites). A few Maori and white lawyers
have earned millions from their involvement.
Their common enemy are the great majority - the common man and woman and the still predominantly British culture which is the bond that still holds the nation together. It is doubtful if these elitist ideologues have the slightest interest in Asians or Africans other than the fuzzy feelings they might get when they are praised for their "humanitarianism" when on the global wine and cheese circuit. But massive, inassimilable immigration, helps to keep the common majority in a greater state of confusion and disarray so that it poses less threat to the elites.
So-called "minority rights" only makes sense when seen as a policy to give all the advantages to that small minority of liberal, culture-hating ideologues. If looked at maturely and with the real interests of everyone, including future generations, the foreshore claim could be an opportunity for real progress. In seeking a solution perhaps the Government could investigate how the Commons system used to work in old England.
As we go to press tax rebellions are in the air. Aucklanders are up in arms over levy rises by the Auckland Regional Council (which oversees public transport) which has seen some demands rise by up to 300 percent or more over last year. This follows in the wake of some rate collecting changes by the districts councils which has caused large increases in poorer areas. The councils do have a genuine difficulty. They are required by central Government to undertake various tasks besides the normal things that councils have always done, but since the big amalgamations of over a decade ago ratepayers have seen local bureaucracies soar in size alongside ever decreasing public input.
What is clearly missing, just as much as it is missing in respect to central government, is a public sanction. Binding referenda for local government is just much needed as for central government. Since amalgamations, which then-Local Government Minister, Michael Bassett, said would create 'efficiencies' we have seen ever-decreasing efficiency and service, and rate increases throughout the country way in excess of inflation. We must assume these are the natural outcomes of a lack of checks and balancesthe results of arbitrary power. Despite these great rate rises some Councils are heading down the road of the California State Government which is drowning in a sea of unmanageable debt. Meanwhile farmers are also protesting and threatening to not pay the new "flatulence tax".
It is almost unbelievable that politicians and their advisers can go along with this nonsense. The Post Office has been intercepting envelopes of dung sent to MPs. At a meeting between Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton and some farmers one practical bloke asked how can it be said that the methane from our gaseous cows weighs so many thousands of tons when methane is lighter than air and rises? Some smirky 'experts' will no doubt snigger at such a question but the actual fact remains that the whole argument about polluting animals is still only theoretical. For our money we would not advise protesting ratepayers and farmers to waste their money on legal challenges. The politicians do actually have the law - even though it is an ass - on their side and the courts can only rule according to the laws passed by Parliament. But the simple refusal to pay or withhold a portion of the rates/tax demand has enormous potential to restore some proper representation back into Government.
And anyone at a protest meeting suggesting the formation of a new political party should be sent to have their mouth washed out. A rates or tax strike, or the threat of such, is simple and has the potential to unite large numbers of people on a simple issue no matter what their other political opinions may be. Such strikes might even encourage politicians and communities to examine the enormous potential of alternative, debt-free, systems of credit.
To the Editor, On Target.
Dear Sir, I have always had a distinct impression
that you collect and publish articles with which you are in broad agreement;
and you do not print a general disclaimer to correct this impression.
I was rather sorry, then, to read the item Faith Unity Against Debt
Slavery [by James Gibb Stuart] in your edition of March-April 2003.
I certainly feel that Christians and Moslems should practise mutual
friendship, toleration and, wherever possible, co-operation; and the
matter of creative resistance to the enslaving global money-power is
an obvious opportunity to do so. However, this should not, and need
not, involve the denial or playing down of the differences between the
faiths, which is what, in my view, the author has done in this article.
There is no ambiguity in the words Fidei Defensor. It is true that Latin
has no definite or indefinite article; but it is special pleading to
claim that this makes the meaning in any way unclear. We are hardly
to suppose that the Romans lived their daily lives in a cloud of confusion
because of a shortcoming in their language. Context is all, and nobody
has ever believed that the Pope meant anything other than that [at the
time a young] Henry VIII was a defender of the Catholic - the orthodox
Christian - faith in his theological writings. What the orthodox Christian
faith is (without which a man "cannot be saved") is clearly stated in
the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed and hammered
out unequivocally in the Athanasian Creed. So although it is
entirely to be hoped that Prince Charles will in his turn protect the
freedom of faith and conscience of all his peoples - as his mother does
now - it will continue to be especially incumbent upon him to defend
the Christian faith. No Moslem, Jew, Hindu or Buddhist of good will
should find anything alarming in that. Nevertheless it must not be glossed
over that there are essential differences among the religions. To do
so is to play into the hands of the very one-world power that Mr. Stuart
quite properly hopes to see defeated by the co-operative actions of
good men of all faiths. Islam denies the Holy Trinity and the divinity
of Jesus, the incarnate Second Person of that Trinity. It in its turn
must logically expect to be regarded by orthodox Christianity as heretical.
(I use the term technically and without emotional heat.) To rank Jesus
and Mohammed equally as "prophets" is to fudge this fact and advance
the cause of the World Religion that seeks to gobble up Christianity
and Islam without discrimination; and, incidentally, to settle the money
question once and for all.
€ We do often publish articles with which we are in "broad agreement" and the suggestion of a "general disclaimer" is a good one. We will carry this in future. - Editor, On Target.
Who are we?