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Salient. Newspaper of Victoria University of Wellington Students Association. Vol 41 No. 3. March 13 1978

Tizard: The Seven Point Piffle

page 5

Tizard: The Seven Point Piffle

"I'm not a liar. I'm not a skillful liar." Bob Tizard told 300 students in the Union Hall last Wednesday. Further evidence perhaps that the Labour Party isn't skillful at anything? Not quite for Tizard also revealed the extent to which his party deals in. . . well shall we say "untruths"?

The most blatant was over the SIS Amendment Act". Labour are on record saying they will repeal this little piece of fascism brought down by the present government, yet when it came to the crunch the best Tizard could manage was that some of the clauses would be rewritten sometime during a Labour term in office.

To be fair, he did call those clauses "obnoxious", and he does think the fourth Labour coming is upon us, but he repeatedly evaded calls to be more precise about just what was intended. Two tactics were employed.

The first was to resort to talking of the need to protect New Zealanders from terrorism, completly ignoring the fact that the Act is not aimed at terrorists. The second was to try to place the SIS legislation in its "proper perspective". This means that the economy comes first and that is where he will be concentrating all his efforts to start with. Sad news from the man who has in the past been Parliament's most outspoken advocate for the abolition of the SIS;

Even when it was put to him that while we recognised the importance of economic management this wasn't a problem which would be solved in a few weeks or months, and that to take his attitude meant that nothing else would ever get done, he did not change his tune.

Photo of Bob Tizard

Tizard now considers the SIS Act "a relatively small matter," and said he is "not going to waste time on side issues." The largest march in Wellington's history, matched by action all round the country seemed of little concern to him. There were many small minority groups who wanted to be listened to, he remarked.

But compare this to his comments on the abortion issue. He claimed, quite accurately, that he voted in line with the wishes of his constituents, and wished there were some way of requiring other MPs to do the same. He did add that "no group in a democracy should have the right to stuff its views down other people's throats."

Asked why it was that Parliament did just that he replied, "Because the other fellows don't see it that way, I suppose." That's it in a nutshell: you vote the way the people want when it suits you. Is Tizard any different?

Shifting standards came up time and again. On democratic socialism he said that "implementation and theory are very different things." On prime ministerial salaries he claimed that we must recognise" ability and the right to reward for ability." And on suspension of unions he declared that no government will deny itself the methods of stopping certain activities. In truth, the combined record of both major parties clearly demonstrates that no government will willingly deny itself the methods of stopping anything.

Bursaries came up early in the piece, with Tizard confidently reassuring us he had our interests at heart. After all, he reminded us, "I have had a little experience as a student and as a politician." He promised that a "special bursary relationship with a cost of living index will be introduced and maintained." And later, "There would have to be an increase in bursaries. No argument whatsoever." Perhaps he's had had some sort of a fallout with Labour's spokesperson on education, Russell Marshall, for the latter has a different story to tell (see accompanying article).

There had been rumours before the forum that Tizard might make a significant announcement on James Movick, but this was not to be so. He was asked whether Labour would introduce specific regulations to cover immigration (this is one of the few remaining fields of government jurisdiction not covered by statute legislation). The answer was no. The bureaucratic bungling that has gone on in the Movick case was outlined and still the answer was no.

"The Labour Party would not bring the discretion of the Minister within any appeal authority or the courts," he bluntly stated. Government by executive, the very thing that Labour kicked up such a fuss about in 1976, is here to stay. Tizard would not even concede that the appeal process needs clarifying!

Further evidence of such astute political judgement was revealed when Rangitikei was mentioned. The people were determined to get National out at any cost, Tizard suggested. Although he told Salient one week before the by-election that he throught thought Labour would run an even second with Social Credit, about 1,000 votes behind National, he bravely stuck to his guns and would not agree that the Labour vote was worrying.

He evaded completely a question on Labour's drift to the right. If J.J. Stewart cannot pull in even a semblance of electorate credibility. Labour must come to realise that it is not "middle of the road" vagueness the people want but a definite stand against the right wing element in the country. Then again, it all gets back to skill I suppose . . .

Tizard said he was "broadly sympathetic" to the requirements of married women trying to cope with redundancy, but that issue was "not on the top of the list." The system of administering the widows' benefit would be changed but without any real attempt to allow for fixed expenses. This was the pattern. The issue did exist and something needed to be done. But it wasn't The Economy so it didn't really count.

The trouble is, Tizard's solutions for the economy aren't all that wonderful. His seven point plan identifies areas of greatest need yet the rhetoric disguises a general absence of real proposals for action. Where these do exist they sound suspiciously like the present government's.

1:Direct taxation will be cut and indirect tax increased. But as we already know from Joe Walding, this is not to significantly affect people at either end of the scale.
2:Interest rates will be lowered and will take inflation down with them. 3: More jobs will be created. Couldn't very well not say that could he? 4. Construction will be increased. 5: Social affairs will be restored to a proper level, and a decent standard of living maintained. 6: Regional development will be expanded. 7: Rebuilding and revitalising training will be promoted, and superannuation will be decently administered.

Getting right down to it, Tizard insisted that the economy needed to expand, especially in the direction of bilateral trade. He went to some lengths to explain that while we had to maintain our trade links with Australia this did not stop us increasing exports of the same products to Peru. Fine stuff, but nothing new.

So, while the seven point panacea plan is instituted, it appears we shall have to wait for social justice, guaranteed democracy, and a resolution of all those issues which Tizard seems to think bear little relation to the economy.

Nevertheless, there's no real cause for alarm. As Tizard himself put it, "I would say I've got more principles than the whole of the National Party put together." And modesty to boot.

Simon Wilson

Photo of Bob Tizard leaning on a lecturn