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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 33 No. 12. 5 August 1970

More from the Country

page 8

More from the Country

Photo of Cliff Emeny

In October last year, I wrote to the leaders of several right-wing political groups seeking information about the policies and activities of each group. The result of this correspondence and associated activity was the 6 May Salient supplement on 'New Zealand's far right'. Readers may remember that the three groups dealt with most fully in that supplement were the Nazi Party, the National Front, and the Country Party.

At the beginning of last month, I received a reply to my October letter from Cliff Emeny, Leader of the Country Party. The text of Mr Emeny's letter is reproduced below. The letterhead read "The New Zealand Liberal Reform Party—Formed to Defend the Responsible Freedom and Property Rights of All New Zealanders" and gave Mr Emeny's Stratford address. I should explain that my original made no reference to Salient and looked in every way the perfectly innocent inquiry that it of course was.

Dear Mr Harcourt,

I must apologise for not replying to your October letter earlier. It seems to have become inserted accidentally with another paper and lost until I was checking through last year's correspondence yesterday. We deeply regret this error as it has always been our custom to answer all mail promptly. However, in the best of circles small errors always creep in, and we hope you will forgive this one.

I've enclosed for you a copy of the original Aims & Objects on which the party was formed. Apart from altering the reference to Country Party and rural voters it will remain exactly the same for the party under it's new name 'Liberal Reform Party'. I would draw your attention to our Aims. These are what we stand for and all our policies are based on these standards.

Next I've sent you my pamphlet used for the Marlborough by-election to give some information on the development of the party to that date. On the back page is the main policy structure.

Finally, I've enclosed a copy of the summary of the Second National Convention just held in Hamilton. This added up-to-date resolutions on current problems. Between them all you will get some information on us. If you require any further details we will be pleased to supply these.

I have no idea where your interest lies in the field of political economy. We are essentially a free enterprise, free trade group. We know it will take time to move in that direction and have short term policies to enable groups adversely affected by present controlled systems to survive until sufficient support can be created for more freedom in N.Z. The Free Enterprise Society has transferred all it's activity to the Liberal Reform Party and will function through it. We realise that unless free enterprise is defended politically it will be completely smothered under the weight of bureaucratic planning and control. We also realise that few people in N.Z. now know anything about free enterprise after 35 years of a government controlled system. Thus it can only be defended and cultivated as a political group now.

We have worldwide affilliations with research groups overseas who can do most of our research much better for us simply by membership. With all resources being concentrated in State hands here neither the knowledge or funds exist any more for independent N.Z. research. Anyway they are so far ahead of us overseas we would be wasting time and effort. All we need is to adapt their knowledge to our own problems and so get the benefit of their efforts. If you are interested we can supply the names of overseas groups you can subsribe to for these studies. All our policies are based on such studies.

We have changed our name because we now know that New Zealanders suffer from a complete mental barrier between town and country. We called the Country party that to represent the whole country. But all newspapers and most town people merely labelled it as exclusively confined to farming interest, and declined to take any notice of the wide ranging reform policies, covering as they do the main issues of N.Z. affairs. Thus the Convention decided to change the name to one more acceptable to all occupations. We know that lots of people in the towns and cities want the principles and ideas we stand for and we hope that under this name we will get a little more of their interest. Of course it is extremely difficult as most political knowledge is on a headline basis these days. Very few people study anything deeply. The government monopoly of radio and T.V. reaches most people and they have shown very little interest in giving us the opportunity to explain our ideas over these mediums. Most of the major newspapers are owned by National Party leaders or members. They too keep most of our ideas out of their columns. Thus few people get the chance to hear a reasonable explanation of them. We need far more competition in news media for N.Z.

We thank you for your inquiry and once again apologise for the delay in replying.

Yours Sincerely,

Cliff. S. Emeny.

I promptly wrote back to Mr Emeny inviting him to read the 6 May supplement—particularly the article on the Country Party—and comment on it from the Liberal Reform Party's point of view. I should recall at this point that the Country Party was described in the Salient article as "a loose coalition of extremely conservative groupings". Of Mr Emeny himself it was reported that "we were reliably informed that 'if you go to Stratford you'll get more than you want'".

Mr Emeny's reply reached me within three or four days of my letter to him.

Dear Mr Harcourt,

Thank you for your letter of 7th July, and your copies of the paper Salient. I'm surprised at your reference to having written to us for information on our policies. A careful search of our files doesn't show any letter from you with such a request. However, in all human affairs errors take place along the line and it's nothing new for a letter to go astray. But using our T V and Radio addresses was fair enough and good enough for the purpose. Anyway, you must forgive me for assuming that it wouldn't have made any difference what we told you. I'm sure you're only looking for opportunities to write critically about anyone in the political field and that your paper really hasn't the scope to impartially examine any practical political proposals appearing on the political scene here.

It seems you have an almost drug-like obsession with meaningless terms such as Right Wing . . . Nazi . . . Facist . . . Racist . . . etc. For you to devote five pages of your paper to sensationalising a tiny group like the Nazi party does the gravest harm to our assessment of your serious concern for practical N.Z. problems and affairs. Thus you must pardon us not feeling inclined to use valuable time replying to your article. What would be the point in it. We would only earn more of your caustic and slanted comment.

In your article on us it seems you are almost desperately striving to find something you can use to link us with your 'Right Wing' groups and thus slander as useless and almost dangerous to N.Z. anything we support. This naturally prevents you from noticing that we stand for five main Reforms in N.Z. affairs, namely, Taxation Reform . . . to remove the cost, complexity, anomalies and destruction of investment capital and personal incentive from our present taxation system . . Economic Reforms, to remove the frustrations to—and capacity for economic growth in N.Z. . . Labour Reforms, designed to free the labour force from dictatorial union power exercised under compulsory unionism, also concerned to establish equality of responsibility for contract before the law on all sides in labour affairs, and finally, the search for a more modern and practical wage setting system based on productivity standards, instead of irrelevant statistics and just plain destructive economic warfare, as we have today . . Fourth, Social Reforms, that ensures welfarism is devoted to those who genuinely need it while both allowing and encouraging everyone else to develop the human character building capacity to manage their own affairs. Finally, Political Reforms, that will ensure the survival of genuine effective democracy for your generation and those to come after them.

We are deeply concerned that all the extensive printed space in your paper fails to reveal any capacity to either impartially examine any of these subjects or even to credit that responsible people could have any ideas on them that may be of useful benefit to N.Z. Also we are concerned that you, whom we presume are supposed to represent the ideas of youth, especially educated youth, who demand new ideas and wider freedom of thought, should take such pleasure in slandering and ridiculing every group that would attempt to provide different ideas for public examination. Pardon us if we can only assume from your writings that some unknown undisclosed force and group you belong to has such a monopoly of knowledge and ideas, that when you have enjoyably destroyed all we see operating today, and all people who try to improve affairs for your generation, you will then reveal how to produce both Heaven and Utopia from the ashes of your destruction. Your writings reveal, to all who have experienced widely the depths of human problems and who care even more deeply for the future, a callous obsession with sadistic destructiveness so harmful in human association, especially in the realm of ideas. We are comforted only by the knowledge, from personal experience, that your writings and comments represent the views of only a fraction of today's youth.

If any of your University groups are interested in hearing our ideas on the five reforms listed above we will be pleased to come and give an address on these subjects, and once having been given a respectable hearing, to answer their questions on these subjects. If there exists anywhere the capacity to impartially examine the value of our proposals to N.Z. and human affairs you will always find us willing to assist. But we plead for an opportunity to meet open minds genuinely seeking useful ideas, not the unhappy biased, heavily slanted emotional approach to any subject we see so evident in your political writings.

In view of your own attitude to the people you write about I'm sure you prefer us to be frank with you in replying.

Yours Sincerely,

Cliff. S. Emeny.