Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 15. 1972
Cocooned in a Beehive
As one of a group of probably oldish liberals who saw and discussed the Gallery programme where two young men were interviewed with two Members of Parliament, we found much sympathy with the frustrations of the two young men. Why?
Parliament has merely become a game, a professional sport. The sport of manipulating 420 (Note) Standing Orders & Rules to keep in power. The former leader of the house, Sir K.J. Holyoake, played this sport very well indeed when it suited to avoid full scale open and well planned public policy debates. (See any Hansard). The present Prime Minister is on record as saying Parliament is not a policy making body and continues to play politely exactly the same sport. Eventually we shall perhaps be entirely ruled by Standing Orders, and Orders in Council.
This is a major reason why Parliament is in disrepute and is becoming more and more a social mockery, and I am mindful it makes the laws and is called the Highest Court in the Land. This so called dignity of Parliament has become unfortunately and deservedly a travesty of open, genuine, democratic debate. The responsibility for this alone lies with the Parliamentarians. The ordinary person often hears called a Gentleman's Club, a Social Club, a Country Club, the Boozery, which doesn't do it any good.
There is apparently no reason at all if they will it and desire it, when at almost fixed dates, in each session and very well advertised in the Press and on Radio & TV full scale open policy (note) debates cannot be held on specific issues and thrashed out on such subjects as Health Services, Race Relations, Education, Social Security, Labour and Industry, Farming problems, the Environment etc., thus avoiding much secretive lobbying.
Parliament can even take the initiative and send invitations to interested people and parties. The Galleries might even be filled to witness the spectacle.
Members of the House might even prepare thoughtful, well researched speeches instead of the hastily concocted, dreary stuff we now get to score points in this game of 420 Rules.
The real answer lies in the hearts, minds, will and values of the nervous (or frightened) 80 and the freedom they alone possess, to put their own House well and truly in order first before attacking others who demonstrate etc.
They can begin by stop pussyfooting around with this professionally absurd sport of 420 Rules. (Cricket when I played it had about 350) If they don't know how to, they can ask the recently retired Clerk of the House and give him, in cooperation perhaps with the Ombudsman, the power to make a full frank, independent report to the people of N.Z. on the subject of Parliament, and of N.Z.'s particular needs as a small democracy, not Westminsters. N.Z. isn't a world power, one of the Big Five at U.N., locked in world power struggles. Has any M.P. any genuine excuse why these suggestions cannot be carried out and experimented with if the pretence of Parliamentary democracy isn't to carry on?
Something needs doing or this mythical dignity of Parliament will continue, frustrations and disillusionments increase and Parliamentarians living in this cocoon world will only have themselves to blame if public dissension gets worse. Building Beehives will not solve this very fundamental issue; although more secretarial help would be and is required.
Unless action is taken those who demonstrate will alas need to continue to learn and follow the example of their mentors, in the House of 420 Rules, and become more skilfull and cunning in techniques. Thus perpetuating the sport unless of course Parliamentarians really find the determination to give a lead first.
Will they really do it? (Or shall we put them on $22 Social Security Benefit plus a Means Test for a session or two?)
In reply to R. Brown & D. Harrison's letter in the last Salient: I totally agree with the bias of Peter Franks & Rob Campbell. Why shouldn't they be biassed? After all, who are the SAL or the July 14 Mobe Committee? They are just another bunch of commie lovers We should stamp out all the commie groups on campus. Since the SAL is the smallest and weakest, we should attack them first, before trying to take on the bigger and more powerful groups.
Anyone who has read the works of Mao & Che knows that the enemy is most effectively attacked at its weakest spot. Lets get rid of the SA Lers.
While the interested minority mobilizes its forces for the new elections, I thought that the Silent Majority would be best served by a party which truly represents its philosophy. What I am suggesting is an Apathy Party, which would reflect the wishes of the Silent Majority and which could be led by one of its worthy sons, namely myself.
My views and those of my Party are rather difficult to pin down, and any attempts at defining policy prove abortive. The problem lies in the very nature of the Party, in that, standing on a platform of apathy we have opinions on very few things and the only motions we pass are biological.
I suggest that, although my qualifications as leader are inclined to middling, I would be the pick of the political crop. In two-and-a half years at Vic. I have never been an active club member, and my views on "pressing social issues" could politely be called "wishy-washy". In a nutshell, my philosophy can be summed up as, "I'm all right, Jack."
However, a problem arises in that although the Apathy Party would represent the Majority, its members would not - they would immediately be identifiable individuals seeking political power. So, it's like Catch-22- the Silent Majority, by its nature, can't be organized and, least of all, given a voice. Realizing this, I will withdraw to the library and my next essay. I probably won't even vote.
Once upon a time a girl who had read "Eco-Catastrophe!" and heard Dr Hine (Marine Biologist) speak and consequently knew that the world as it was would collapse by 2000, went to parliament with 2 friends. The girl heard the Prime Minister speaking. He said that his party had helped the expansion of industry for ten years, and he was proud of it. Now the girl got angry, because she saw that the Prime Minister was doing something twitty. The Prime Minister had sent a friend of his to Stockholm to learn how to save the environment, but probably he had forgotten, or perhaps he didn't care that expansion of industry uses up natural resources and causes pollution and wealth and overpopulation. So the girl got up and said: "You shouldn't bloody have expansion. You should stabilise the economy. Haven't you ever heard of pollution and the environment. You're just a great big twit." And afterwards there was publicity and letters and congratulations. Margaret Davey, obviously doesn't care about ecology yet, but perhaps she will now. And so when she's walking down Willis Street and coughing out fumes, or can't boil an egg because DDT has weakened the shell, or hears about another 200 Japanese schoolchildren hospitalised, or can't go out because there is too much smog as there is in Los Angeles now, then she'll know she should have cared.
Taylor Wake Up
Enquiries reveal No. 44 Kelburn Parade, opposite Easterfield, was vacated about 16 May for this Varsity. It is still empty. After a nosey around, it is quite large, the place in good condition.
Last year our bosses, Messrs Taylor and Culliford were making plenty of loud noises in the Press and getting great publicity about shortages of accommodation on Campus.
What the hell is going on 7 weeks later? Too much socialising perhaps and not enough attention to the business in hand.
Gratitude & Apology
As one Vic. sportsman, I wish to apologise for desiring the replacement of Salient's political pages representing "the only creative thought going on in this university" with reports of my "mutualising masochism". Please print my letter along with the thousands of others you have received in support of your brave stand against the several thousand Vic sports club members. I'm proud of the uncompromising viewpoint Salient has taken in the past two years with regard to sport. Thank you for providing me with such detailed reports and photographs from the demonstrations I've missed. I realise that my hoping in vain for Salient staff to cover sport was selfish, considering the more important things they had to do. I am at last aware that the narrow minded attitude which ignores the political pages for the sports pages is vastly inferior to the broadminded attitude which ignores the sports pages for the political pages. Thank you for making broad mindedness easier.
July 3, 1972
It is appropriate that, while your visit to New Zealand is a brief one and is concerned with the business of Her Majesty's Government, we, as New Zealand citizens, consider that the following subject is one which calls for your immediate and special attention which we accordingly request.
A considerable number of New Zealand citizens are seriously concerned over the state of affairs in the Six Counties of Northern Ireland under the jurisdiction of the British Government. Many hundreds are interned indefinitely without trial, no charges having been preferred against them, and others are detained and imprisoned under what appears to us to be questionable legal process. They are denied any right of appeal and appear to be without legal redress. This is being done under the Emergency Powers Act which has been widely condemned in Great Britain and other countries as being harsh, undemocratic and in conflict with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
These considerations are set out in the enclosed petition form which is at present being circulated in New Zealand and is receiving wide support. Presently the petition will be conveyed to the representative of your government in Northern Ireland, the Hon. Mr Whitelaw. Meanwhile, we are drawing this matter to your attention and earnestly request that immediately on your return to London you make known to your Government our serious concern over this matter and ask that early effect be given to the prayer of the petition.
New Zealand Association for the Support of Democracy in Ireland
We, the undersigned citizens of New Zealand, ask for the immediate release of all political prisoners interned without trial in the Six Counties of Northern Ireland, and over which area you now have jurisdiction vested in you by Her Majesty's Government at Westminster.
We also demand the immediate revocation of the Emergency Powers Act under which the internment policy of the late Stormont Government is still being carried out and various harsh and undemocratic methods used against the civilian population. We consider these methods to be an abrogation of the Charter of Human Rights, a violation of their rights as citizens of the United Kingdom and against the principles of natural justice.
Accordingly we call on you to release all internees at once, and revoke the Emergency Powers Act forthwith.