Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Volume 31, Number 11 June 5, 1968
Gager 'not worth the trouble'
Gager 'not worth the trouble'
"Owen Gager's article in Salient 9 was totally destructive and completely negative," said Mike Hirshfield, presiding over a committee meeting of the VUW Labour Club.
After discussion, the club dissociated itself from Mr Gager's article and from a statement made by Mr Peter Blizard reported in the Dominion of May 3rd.
"I would be the last to consider the Labour Party as a God" said Mike. "But I am totally against using the public press to play such a negative view-point."
Mike said the reference to a one-armed man in the article was "totally unacceptable."
Owen had been offered editorship of the Club Bulletin, he said, but had declined.
"There was an opportunity to criticise the Labour Party."
Mike said notices placed on noticeboards by Owen terming the meeting a "heresy trial" were "ridiculous."
House Committee Chairwoman Helen Paske was asked whether Owen had the authority to put the notices up and said he had.
But, the question of whether Mike had the authority to take the posters down was referred to Helen. She said he had none.
On the grounds that the branch would lose any influence within the Party if it did not do so Murray Rowlands supported censuring Owen.
"We must take the right and proper action." he said, ''and do what is expected of us."
Murray emphasised that the club must function in a manner pleasing to the Labour Party.
Mr Peter Blizard said he upheld the right of free speech. "We must not suppress criticism."
He recommended a statement, analysing what Owen had said and a reply to it, be issued by the branch.
Bill Turner, after referring to the article as a "vile piece of garbage," said it simply wasn't worth the trouble to expel Owen.
He attacked Owen's thesis of the Labour Party selling protection to manufacturers.
In defence of his article. Owen said he was pleased that someone, (even of the calibre of the last speaker) had actually debated whether something in the article was "true" or "false".
The only basis for complaint he said he had noticed was that the article was in "bad taste."
"Why didn't you put that in your letter to Salient?" he asked the three persons who had written the letters and were at the meeting.
"Not one letter contained any mention of a breach of bad taste."
Owen said that in his own experience he had found a "nice, polite and constructive article 'was' politely ignored" by the Labour Party.
His article was an example of what induced readers to "sit up and take notice."
Owen suggested the views of some members had been directly influenced by members of the Labour Party hierachy.
Mike Hirshfield denied this.
The meting passed the following motion:
"That this committee . . . dissociate itself from the recent article by Owen Gager and that we state, in detail, the reasons for dissociation."
Also passed was a motion for a list of reasons, by Hirshfield and Turner, be drawn up this week.
Mr Peter Blizard, who made a statement to the Sunday Times criticising Labour Party policy on mental health, had his assurances that he was not speaking as VUW Branch delegate accepted.
The motion also pointed out that the Executive did not necessarily support Mr Blizard's opinions on the matter.