Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32. No. 25. October 9, 1969
2 Independent — Mike Mitchell
2 Independent — Mike Mitchell
Salient: What prompted your decision to stand, and with which party do you associate yourself?
I consider that for too long, politics has been the province of the "older generation"— most of the present politicians are in the 40 to 80 age group. It has become generally thought, unfortunately, that youth disqualifies one from public office. Criticism of our generation has never been more strident, and shows no sign of abating. The House of Representatives is the best forum to meet criticism head-on—and to counter it with sound, informed argument, based on a youthful, vital approach. With the voting age lowered (albeit belatedly) to 20. the need for wider representation of the community is even greater.
I am standing as a candidate independent of any political party—this means of course that I will not be bound to support out-of-date policies, and will have greater freedom of speech in advancing what I feel are the views, hopes, and aspirations of our age group. It has already been shown that "toeing the party-line" has effectively crippled true freedom of speech, and lowered the standard of debate— if it was ever high.
Salient: Why choose Wellington Central?
The other candidates for Wellington Central provide the voters of this city not with a choice, but with a dilemma. Dan Riddiford apparently has a fine war record, but what has he done since then? Certainly nothing for Wellington. This must be the worst-served electorate in the country. I want to provide the electorate with an alternative—with a much-needed change, untrammeled by party dogma and divided allegiances. I feel strongly about many aspects of Wellington's development—there is much to be done by the Parliamentary representative for Wellington Salient: Could you elaborate on some of these aspects?
Geographically, Wellington is unique. Unfortunately, in the name of progress, the Harbour Board is systematically destroying the inner-harbour by reclamation. The industrial area of Wellington is Gracefield, Hutt. Container-port facilities should be located where they belong—adjacent to industry.
The inner-harbour should be preserved, with emphasis on the tourist trade. A complex of container facilities in the heard of the city can only increase traffic congestion (already a problem) and destroy the beauty of the harbour. Something must be done now to halt the hideous damage which is being perpetrated.
The fantastic potential of Wellington is self-evident. Over recent years, the sky-line of the city has changed dramatically. But is this building programme subject to any control? Certainly, the Town Plan must be adhered to, but aesthetically, no standards are set, or met. I advocate the establishment of a body of suitably qualified people to examine the plans of every proposed building in the inner city —not to see whether it complies with the spaghetti-like tangle of by-laws and building regulations; but to consider whether the structure will enhance the city and add to the natural beauty of the harbour and city. After all. these high-rise blocks will be around for a long time. Now is the time to eliminate clashes of architecture, ugliness and aesthetic thoughtlessness.
In Wellington, as we know, the cost of living is high, and getting higher. Probably 80% of the population of Wellington Central live in flats, apartments or single rooms. It is high time an effective system of rent-control was introduced. City rents are exorbitantly high and for the tenant there is no protection. I intend to campaign for a system of "fair-rent"—one possibility is tying the rental to the capital value of the property. Being the centre of Government, many civil servants are required to find accommodation in Wellington, as well as students in ever-increasing numbers. Wellington could well be classified as a "special area" in this regard. Salient: Broadly, what role do you think New Zealand should play internationally?
This is a topic that is obviously not easily dealt with in a few paragraphs. However, in view of developments in the last decade. New Zealand must now re-examine her foreign policy in all its aspects. Even the most stubborn now realise that Vietnam was a blunder —a frightening example of the use of the American war-machine based on erroneous suppositions and gross misunderstandings. We have learnt our lesson—or should have. Never was an independent foreign policy more clearly needed than it is now. The comment was made recently that in two generations. China's nuclear armament could dwarf that of Russia and America combined. This emphasises the desirability of coming to terms with our neighbour. This means recognising the Peking Government as the effective Government of the vast majority of the Chinese people. It means aid to China—mainly agricultural, experts, equipment, ideas. It means facing reality and identifying ourselves more with Asia than with Europe; more with the Pacific than with the Atlantic. With Britain's entry to the common market seemingly only a matter of time, new markets must be found. Again—let's look to China.
Recognition must not be confused with approval.
Salient: To return to the National scene, what are your views on current controversial matters—Law and Order, for instance?
I strenuously oppose any return to capital or corporal punishment. These have been tried, they failed. Present penalties have been arrived at after much research and study by highly qualified experts in the field—to return to pre-war floggings, whippings or "birchings" would be sheer folly. The deterrent value of these punishments is minimal, the rehabilitative element completely lacking, the notion of revenge and suggestions of sadism high.
Salient: Generally, how do you see the role of the Universities?
I agree with Professor Titchener of Auckland University, who said recently that the University has a duty to maintain and encourage learning for its own sake—a degree should not be looked upon as purely and simply a meal-ticket. Muldoon (who appears to be the National Party voice on the subject) has shown all the breadth of vision that one might expect from an accountant. Education, especially in the much maligned field of the arts, is and end in itself. We must curb any influence which would produce a nation of technical experts. "Muldoonism" must be countered and eradicated.