Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 10. 23rd May 1973
Marshall and the Red Peril — Ageing Tory Raves at Training College
Marshall and the Red Peril
Ageing Tory Raves at Training College
It was advertised that Mr Marshall would speak on Education. Instead he offered a homily on Freedom. These two concepts could be related by many speakers but not, it appears, by New Zealand's first graduate Prime Minister. What we got sounded very much like a rehash of a speech delivered at Lincoln College a few days earlier. Jack did use a slightly different tack for his opening, reminiscences of Anzac Day. He remarked, with typical insight, that he imagined for people of our generation Anzac Day did not mean quite the same thing . . . "some of you may even wonder what it's all about".
From there he went on to war service and a personal travelogue on pre-war Germany. Jack explained how he had been a Pacifist in youthful folly but the realities of Fascism first-hand converted him (he didn't say to what). Then came the reason for all this tear-jerking, "Beware the March of Reds". "I do not question the claim of the Chinese Communist Government that they have no territorial ambitions in this part of the world", said Mr Marshall. "But there is equally no doubt that the Communist World believes fanatically in the inevitability of communist revolution on a world scale. It is their mission to promote the cause of Communism."
Gentleman Jack Marshall went on to talk about the Communist threat in New Zealand. "The risks and dangers of subversion are always present. In New Zealand the Communist Party, which is affiliated to the Chinese Communist Party, is insignificant. It has caused some trouble. It has gained some influence in some trade unions. It has promoted Front organisations. It has fomented protests but it has little popular support".
If the CPNZ is insignificant, one wonders why Jack is raving about it up and down the country. In questions after his speech, he indicated only confusion in the matter. He was asked to name the trade unions in which the Communist Party is influential. He named Ken Douglas and the Northern Drivers Union and seemed to have nothing further to add. Now Jack had said "trade unions" and he did point out that the Communists in New Zealand were affiliated to the Chinese Communist Party. Ken Douglas belongs to the pro-Soviet Socialist Unity Party, not the CPNZ. Further, Mr Marshall only pointed to one "leftist" union leader, not to subversive influence.
Jack was asked to name protests (NB plural) fomented by the Communist Party. After being pressed by the questioner, he named the protest at Mount John. Asked what evidence he could produce that this was the work of Communists he replied that "Communists had taken part in the demonstration".
When my turn came to question I asked Mr Marshall to name the front organisations (NB plural) promoted by the CPNZ. He completely sidestepped the question and began to waffle. I interrupted to demand an answer to my question. Still he evaded and I was forced to constantly badger the Gentleman to answer what he had been asked. After some persistence on my part Mr Marshall suggested that the Auckland Progressive Youth Movement was a communist front organisation. Now Jack uses the word front to imply that the hidden aims of the movement are communist. Surely this is not the case with the Auckland PYM after their leader has made his views known on television?
But to return to the meeting. I pointed out to Mr Marshall, rather wet-browed at this stage, that he had said "fronts". Would he please name the other Communist Front in New Zealand. More waffle, of an unbelievable standard, more insistence on my part until finally Mr Marshall told the assembly the other Communist Front was . . . "The Socialist Unity Party"!! The Gentleman then suggested that I knew more about the topic than he did — meant as a smear, not a compliment.
Of course I was quite amused with all this. But you are wrong if you think I got the better of the encounter. Most of the audience of staff and students seemed to accept these farcical answers. Some had heckled me because I had the gall to insist that Mr Marshall answer the question I asked and name the Communist Fronts. But that's another tragedy.
To return to Mr Marshall, I am not an avid fan of his speeches, nor do I regularly read daily newspapers or listen to news broadcasts. However, I can recall two other occasions in April when Mr Marshall has dragged out the Communist Bogey. On April 9 he made the same outrageous claims to Auckland Rotary. More recently he played McCarthy at Lincoln College, the speech I referred to earlier. There could be other instances this month or this year for all I know.
What a pitiful spectacle — a defeated old man cowering behind "Communist Fronts" the same way as Hitler did, the same way as McCarthy brandished papers on which he claimed were the names of highly placed Communists. And this all done under the guise of a talk on Freedom. Mr Marshall's behaviour is an abuse of freedom. He refuses to name organisations because he knows this would lead to libel cases and his smears would not hold in a court of law.
I left the meeting with the impression that Mr Marshall is no more up to the job of leading the Opposition than he was up to being Prime Minister. Consequently, he meanders around the country in search of Chinese Dragons. Has he taken over the job of red-baiting from Mr Muldoon and handed over his parliamentary
By Paul Burns