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Salient. Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 26, No. 6. Tuesday, June 4, 1963

Moriarty Labelled "Unethical"

Moriarty Labelled "Unethical"

Peter Blizard labelled Students' Association President Moriarty "unethical" at the recent presidential candidates' meeting in the Memorial Theatre.

Blizard accused Moriarty of attempting to influence the elections. Moriarty had persuaded Smythe, prominent Law Faculty member, to switch his seconding of nomination papers from Afeaki to Perham.

Moriarty, explaining his action, said that Afeaki's record on the House Committee showed he would not be suitable for President.

Later, when questioned by Salient, Blizard said: "No student, more so the President of the Association, has any ethical Justification for approaching a nominator or seconder of any candidate in an election, in order to change that nominator's or seconder's allegience to any other candidate.

"Under the circumstances to which I took exception, the above occurred. This was rendered still more unethical since—
"(a)The student concerned was the President of the Association and presumably his voice carries somewhat more weight than most other students;
"(b)He attempted and was successful in swaying allegiance to his chosen candidate, i.e. the person that he, the President, nominated."

In reply to Blizard, Moriarty said to Salient:

"Mr. Blizard has continued to accuse me of 'unethical' conduct in trying to influence Mr. Smythe to nominate Mr. Perham rather than Mr. Afeaki. I don't think I have acted in the least bit 'unethically.' Is politics not concerned with influencing people to change their allegiance? There's not much left to politics if you take that out. As a financial member of the Students' Association I have every right to try to influence people to vote or second one way or another and I will not give up that right just to please Mr. Blizard.

"For political reasons (which haven't turned out very successfully), I preferred to see Mr. Smythe nominating Mr. Perham rather than Mr. Afeaki. I told him this and necessarily gave him my reasons. What commandment, what 'ethical' principles have I transgressed here?

"Elections involve politics and if the honest assessment of merit and capability is to be banned from our elections they will become empty and meaningless public rituals, failing completely to fulfil the purpose for which they were designed.

"Nor do I think that honest people who realise they have made an error of judgment should be condemned to live with their error. What is the point of allowing frank criticism and open discussion if public disapprobation follows a change of heart? If I convinced Mr. Smythe it may well have been because I had strong arguments. I would always hope that a person who had the intellectual honesty to change his mind when he was convinced he had made a mistake would also have the integrity and courage to act accordingly.

"Consequently I view with considerable distaste (and some surprise) the atmosphere of pained disapproval that has followed this action. I do not like to see social pressure whipped up to prevent people from rectifying mistakes Trying to stifle freedom of action in this field cannot be justified if one admits the right to freedom of political opinion.

"I can only conclude that Mr. Blizard's charges against me are not very well thought out. Certainly he hasn't convinced me. I would do the same again whenever I wanted to."