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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 39, Number 21, September 6, 1976.

The Waring Scandal

page 6

The Waring Scandal

Truth's billboard last week promised a sex scandal involving an MP. The weekly's story on the private life of Marilyn Waring proved highly controversial. It reached down below even Truth's standards of taste.

Reaction across the country was widespread and hostile. That Truth's got no place printing such articles. That even MPs do have rights to privacy. The Raglan electorate National Party strongly supported Ms Waring, although the support cracked a little under TV1 questioning.

Yet the furore that has resulted, has covered over an even more sinister situation. Truth's printing of the story was disgusting enough in itself, but Salient understands that the dirt goes much deeper than this. The article helps out the right wing of the National Party against its more liberal MPs. We believe that the story was checked out with high up members of the National Party and may even have been run on their encouragement.

On first hearing the rumour, sources around Parliament and the Party were put into action. They confirm the suspicious timing of the story's release and the involvement of the National Party with Truth.

Truth Protects Family Life

Truth's stated reasons for publishing the story are as facile as most of its reasoning. "Truth says: its your right to know". The final paragraph goes:

"It is also of concern that any Parliamentarian can be connected with the breakdown of a marriage where laws are geared towards protecting the sanctity of the home".

It is not new to point out the hypocrisy of Truth's stand on the family. With its rabidly right wing editorial policy it has to mouth such concern. Yet its actions speak much louder than its words. Its actions printing photos of scantily clad models, or accepting a variety of ads for sex games and massage parlours. In this particular context the "sanctity of the home" idea doesn't even fit in well with the rest of the story. This provides some cover, but is more cover than a real reason.

Another, more plausible, reason for Truth's printing of the story is its present economic position. It used to rank with Women's Weekly as the top weekly. But the heady days of 300,000 sales each week are gone, Last September's Audit Bureau of Circulation figures gave Truth 195,000 and The Listener 220,000. Since then The Listener has grown to over 250,000 and Truth has fallen, possibly as far as 160,000 (Women's Weekly is around 210,000). Apparently the Sunday Times is now challenging Truth for readership and, more importantly, advertising.

Truth has certainly hit hard times. It seems that bashing communists doesn't sell as well as it used to. Certainly not when you run non-stories such as the SIS report being leaked to the Socialist Unity Party. Looks like we need more of the old tit and bum. Or a bit of real sensation.

One thing you can say for the Waring story. It may have been crass interference in private life, but it sure sold well. As the Truth desk clerk crowed to a Salient reporter. Yet Truth's economic decline has been pronounced for months now, and little has been done about it.

Drawing of a man holding a plug

There is another disturbing question. Marilyn Waring's private affairs have not exactly been the most closely guarded state secrets. If Salient had been sufficiently void of any principles, we would have 'broken' Truth's exclusive several weeks ago. And if we had the 'information', then surely Truth had it. Why, given Truth's concern for the family and economic straits, was the story not run earlier?

TRUTH MP'S ODD LOVE AFFAIR Heard on the grapevine MARILYN WARING, National Member of Parliament for Raglan is alesbian. Mer layer is a farmer Hamilton housewife and mother of Three, who left her husband and children about three months age is there's wellington love next. TURN TO PAGE FIVE GLENVALE

Links Between Truth and Nats

There are two questions that need answering. Why did Truth publish the story at all, and why did it publish it in the 24th August edition and not earlier? The first can possibly be answered as above (but only possibly), but the second needs more investigation. Especially looking at the links between Truth and the right wing of the National Party.

Links between Truth and the right wing of the National Party have been long established. Both are obsessively concerned with 'communists' and 'saboteurs and traitors' such as Care and Hart. Truth's strong attacks on the trade union movement have certainly helped the National cause.

But links require more than just similar interests and political lines. Evidence of these links came out in the controversy over the 'Think Tank' affair in August last year. The controversy centred around the Labour MP for Island Bay, Gerald O'Brien. Interestingly, National in July declared, to much surprise, that Island Bay was a marginal seat.

In August, along with the Truth expose, a police job sheet on the Think Tank was 'leaked' from the SIS, a leak that clearly discreditted the Government. On TV2 News August 8th Muldoon said he knew of the job sheet before it was handed to the Prime Minister, and while he hadn't read it, he had been told it was "politically embarrassing". TV2 also reported that it had been informed of the document, before it hit the news, by "two significant National Party men".

It is clear from this case (and the claims of the sacked SIS agent Jays that he was set up) that the SIS, Truth and the National Party had joint access to the information. How else did all three surface at the same time, taking a similar stand?

Muldoon later attacked the Committee to oppose the SIS for '"arranging" a letter linking his Party with the affair, Revealingly, after denials from the police, he refused to repeat this statement outside Parliament.

Such are the links between the Nats and Truth. Sources in the Party tell us that the links are very much alive. Especially over the 24 August issue.

A look at the present situation of the National Party reveals all is far from well. There have been many serious splits in the 55 MPs elected in the 'landslide' last year. Most serious have been the splits over sporting contacts with the South African racists and over abortion. Even over the recent waterfront dispute we understand that Cabinet split the hard line right wing led by Muldoon being defeated by the softer (and more sensible) Gordon faction.

These splits have generally appeared as differences between the right wing and the more liberal sections of the Party. Splits that were obvious at the National Party Conference in Rotorua, where many delegates made no secret of their dislike of Muldoon. And their wish to see Brian Talboys as leader.

Muldoon Jumps On Shearer

On nuclear power, earlier this year, Ian Shearer from Hamilton East spoke for many National MPs when he was concerned over the nuclear policy Muldoon was following. The way he was jumped on quietened criticism for a while, but particularly from Rotorua last month the critics have started again. The Young Nats and the National Party women's group were outspoken.

So at the moment we're battering down the hatches for a major confrontation between the Government and the unions. Particularly over the wage freeze. Recently, over teachers demands and over broadcasting, the Government has abruptly backed down. It is clear that they have realised the isolated position they are in, and are trying to gain support, not only in the country in general, but also in the National Party caucus. Muldoon needs support, and he is trying to rally it.

Having deliberatedly caused confrontation with the waterfront workers with the planning of the nuclear ship visit in the school holidays, there is one thing Muldoon cannot afford now. This is a continuation of the splits in the Party caucus. The liberal and right wing elements are too far apart.

Salient understands that the story on Marilyn Waring was printed with this situation primarily in mind. We have no knowledge of whether the Prime Minister was invovled, but certainly leading members of the Party were. The aim is quite simple. With the waterfront unions and particularly the abortion issue creating 'problems' a way of quietening the critics inside the Party had to be found.

The direct method of discipline was tried against Ian Shearer - it kept the troops in line for a while, but stronger measures were needed now. Most politicians have 'skeletons' in their dark cupboards which they would prefer to keep there.

Salient considers that the Waring story was published to remind MPs of their own weaknesses in this regard, and hence to shut them up. We have not yet discovered why Marilyn Waring was chosen. She has certainly been one of the more active new liberal MPs. It probably has much to do with her being a woman, and hence 'vulnerable' by some obscure sexist logic. Her attitude on the abortion issue may have entered into it.

But these considerations are secondary to the running of a story attacking the private life of a 'liberal' National MP. Given the volatile political climate and the tensions within the National Party, it is inconceivable that Truth would run a story such as this without checking it with their mates on the hill first. Such links as have been publicly disclosed alone would make discussion highly likely. We believe it goes much further than this.

The public reaction against Truth's prying into Marilyn Waring's private life has been strong and unequivocal. No. The reaction against what looks like a form of sophisticated political blackmail of National MPs must be equally strong. A party, a Government, that holds its potential rebels in line with ploys like this cannot have much better in store for the rest of us.

The struggle within the National Party is likely to intensify over the next few months. It is revealling that George Gair, long considered a right wing Muldoon man was criticised as politically expedient by Muldoon in the abortion debate. Many National MPs got really stuck into their leader in the same debate. That debate, as it should have, has its own position. But the Nats are clearly under stress. In view of others of their actions, it is not surprising that Truth should be used by the right wingers to further their aims.

If the National Government has got itself into a ness, and especially if the right wing cannot get out of it, that is cause for worry. The resulting actions do affect the rest of us. If it is going to resort in desperation to political blackmail then it is obviously time for action.