I really enjoy Garth George's weekly opinion piece in the NZ Herald. He comes across as a grumpy old bugger, but he's one of the "old school" of journalists, and he is usually right on the money with his observations. And today is no exception - here's the link:
I met George earlier this year when he spoke at a leadership programme I was attending. There was a wide divergence in responses to what he had to say, but all present were in agreement that he spoke from the heart, and called things as he saw them. He's come from the school of hard knocks, as he sometimes refers to in his columns, but one thing is for sure - he has an excellent "bullshit detector" which has obviously been working overtime as he prepared this week's column. He starts:
"If ever there were a reason to turf this Government out, it is the arrogance and hypocrisy of the Dear Leader in refusing point blank to scrap the despicable Electoral Finance Bill.
Here is a woman who has been blathering on about human rights ever since she became a public face, who rails against the military takeover in Fiji and demands a return to democracy there, and who gallivants round the world attending wartime anniversaries.
The irony seems to escape her that this bill, which has been written for no other reason than to give Labour an advantage during next year's election campaign, is the most serious attack on human rights in this country that has ever been mounted.
It is an assault on democracy every bit as dangerous as the antics of Frank Bainimarama, for it is the sort of legislation that prospective dictators force through to shut down public dissent.
And it is an insult to the thousands of New Zealanders who died in two world wars to turn back those who would have enslaved us and preserve our democracy and our human rights."
Goodness - another journo has broken ranks and used "Dear Leader" - he must read the blogs! But then he turns his attention to Labour's support parties - and lets it all hang out:
"I have contempt, too, for the Labour running dogs who have indicated they will support this Government bill - the MPs of United Future, NZ First and the Greens.
I suppose it is expected of that master of self-interested compromise, Winston Peters, who is about to visit North Korea as our non-Cabinet Minister of Foreign Affairs.
If Kim Jong-il hears about the Electoral Finance Bill, he'll probably invite Winston to dinner.
Peter Dunne has never been anything but Labour lite and can be trusted only to lick the Government's boots.
But I must say I'm a bit surprised at the Greens. I would have thought blokes like Keith Locke and Nandor Tanczos, those champions of the underdog, would have cavilled at this piece of legislation. But no. Politics overrides principle yet again."
He then reminds readers that the Exclusive Brethren businessmen were perfectly entitled to carry out their campaign in 2005, a fact ignored by Labour, before applying the blowtorch to Helen Clark again - get this:
"So the Dear Leader and her minions are determined that next time advertising condemning or criticising the Government will be heavily restricted, while the Government will be able to spend what it likes promoting its own policies at no cost to the party.
If ever there was a misuse of political power, this is it. As this newspaper said in only its second front-page editorial in five years, "democracy is not a device to keep Labour in power".
But it is typically socialist and the longer this Government remains, the more its members see themselves as there to rule rather than simply to govern, persuaded that only they know what is best for the country.
But it is in reality only what is best for the rulers that matters; the exercise of power, through legislation and a powerful bureaucracy, becomes an addiction, and the thought of having to go without it becomes intolerable.
And, as with all addictions, the longer it is practised the worse it gets. Thus, the dumping of Labour a year from now would really be a humane act. Its members need saving from themselves."
"Its members need saving from themselves" - I love that line - must file it away for future reference!!And he is dead right when he talks about addictions - if you know his life story, you'll understand where he is coming from. George concludes with a warning to Labour:
"Labour strategists seem to think that anger over this bill, if it becomes law in the next few weeks, will be forgotten come next year.
Not so. I, for one, certainly won't forget. But who knows?
Perhaps by then this column will be banned by law, too."
Thank you for this contribution Garth. It is, if nothing else, a reminder to all of us who oppose the EFB to keep up our opposition, even after the Bill has passed into law, as it inevitably will, given the government's deals with its support parties. We must ensure that as many people as possible know that Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First (I'm still not sure about United Future) are punished for allowing this insidious piece of legislation to proceed, despite overwhelming opposition and condemnation.
And Garth, keep telling it like it is - even if it is illegal! I suspect that no amount of legislation will stop your pen - which is exactly how it should be!