Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 38, Number 25. 2nd October 1975
Island Bay Endangered
Island Bay Endangered
Island Bay candidates in the coming general election gave a special preview of their act to an excited audience of 300 students on Tuesday lunch time last week. While the seven person line-up gave more variance in style and content from the usual electorate line-up students appeared mostly interested in the two big parties — Labour and National.
The candidates were as follows: Frank Moncur, Independent National; Ron Meggett, radical feminist; Kay Goodger, Socialist Action League; Bill Nathan, National; Peter Rutherford, Values; Tom McLean, Social Credit, and last but not least a man who could hold his drink; Gerald O'Brien, Labour.
The 'sensational' Truth expose of Gerald O'Brien was ignored for most of the forum as students subjected the candidates to fairly intense scrutiny. No one issue dominated the meeting and debate ranged wide and far. The bitterness of the SRC where the abortion policy was changed to no liberalisation was still present. Speakers supporting the Remuera clinic or liberalisation were subject to abuse mainly from Catholic students, while Gerald O'Brien had to work hard to argue his way out of a sticky situation after he said he opposed liberalisation.
Economic policy was also debated. The Social Credit candidate said our monetary system was crippling our society and that it must be changed. He demonstrated that his party had made some analysis of New Zealand's economy as he said that money that should be directed to fulfilling social needs was going into the coffers of the big banks and finance institutions which are mainly overseas owned. If we supported this he said, he didn't want our vote. Despite the validity of this analysis of the problem Social Credit's solution of a loosely organised Parliamentary party based on the middle-classes is hardly a way out. Still he showed a conviction and fervour that none of the other candidates demonstrated.
Gerald O'Brien also went into economic policy saying that he personally supported widespread nationalisation which he identified with "socialism". When questioned as to whether socialism consisted of the rule of the working class and not just nationalisation he disagreed. Unfortunately the next Thursday saw Bill Rowling contradicting O'Brien by saying that state control did not constitute socialism for there was no guarantee that the state served the interests of the workers. Even Rowling could see the emptiness of O'Brien's socialism. Peter Rutherford could not elaborate on his party's policy as they were still thinking it up — he asked for suggestions.
Knowledge of the electorate was another area of debate. The SAL candidate fared badly as she admitted that she lived in Ngaio and demonstrated an embarrassing lack of knowledge on the Council tenants struggle and the hospital expansion plans. Peter Rutherford was also unconvincing, relying on the repetition of (no doubt sincere) ideals rather than dealing with the concrete issues. Gerald O'Brien showed the knowledge you would expect of the incumbent member. Bill Nathan revealed that he lived in Karori and that although he knew of people's struggles in Island Bay he did not support them (perhaps he's too busy reading Truth). Tom McLean appeared to have some knowledge of people's struggles.
Of the candidates none were impressive.
Gerald O'Brien was very arrogant and concentrated on giving us a history of the good old days of Labour. He received cheers when he described National's industrial relations policy as identical to Mussolini's but received little acclaim for going through the opposing candidates one by one and attacking each.
Bill Nathan looked like He's brought along the wrong speech as he described Rob Muldoon as "the right man for these times" over a storm of jeers and paper darts. On and on he went and so went the darts and jeers. During the questions he was less sure, after defending National's policy of sporting contacts with South Africa he admitted he would personally not tour as an honorary white (what's sauce for the goose is poison for the gander?)
Peter Rutherford was remarkably sincere sounding but hardly concrete as he expounded the Values philosophy. Values see things in terms of an 'ecological idea' — things are interconnected. Peter Rutherford felt that this 'idea' when applied to society showed that pluralism was the best way — equal representation of minority groups.
Kaye Goodger was deadly dull. She stuck to describing about four main issues rather than giving a normal style speech. Student interest was indicated by the fact that no one but fellow trotskyites wanted to ask her questions and that the vast majority of the paper darts hurled were made from SAL election giveaways.
The other candidates were worth a laugh, but not worth reporting.
Overall the forum showed that students appear to see this election as more of a two party battle than last time. This, I feel, is partly due to the closeness of the Wellington Central vote and partly to a disillusionment with the third parties that are offering. Of those two parties students appear to firmly support Labour.