Still someone else’s country
Wellington, Newtown, 9 February 2013 – As the issue of state asset sales and other New Right policies are on National’s impending agenda, the Newtown-branch of the Mana Party considered it worthwhile taking the time to look back at recent history. The events of today are firmly rooted in the past.
The New Right had taken power in Britain with the election of Margaret Thatcher in May 1979, and in the United States, with the election of Ronald Reagan in November 1980. Our turn came in July 1984, with the snap election called by an inebriated Rob Muldoon. (Intoxication on power and alcohol – not a very healthy mix.)
The Labour government that was swept to power (see: New Zealand general election, 1984) was not the Labour Party that people thought they were voting for. In total secrecy, Labour had been captured by a cabal of fanatical neo-liberal reformers. It was a government firmly under the control of what we know today, as the ACT Party.
Twenty nine years later…
Mana’s Newtown Branch decided to hold a public screening of Alister Barry’s hard-hitting, insightful, 1996 documentary, “Someone elses’s country“. The story told within that hour-and-a-half documentary is as valid today as it was three decades ago. (In fact, watch “Someone elses’s country” and then watch Bryan Bruce’s 2011 documentary, “Inside Child Poverty in New Zealand” – and the linkages of the radical transformation of our country is all but complete.)
Prior to the screening, the audience was welcomed by Mana Newtown organisor, Ariana, who gave a brief rundown of the content and it’s impact on our society,
Many in the audience were young people who either had not been born in the 1980s, or were too young to remember the calamitous events that were unfolding. To these people, the events we now understand as Rogernomics and Ruthenasia would have been like the 1951 Waterfront Lockout dispute that rocked the nation.
Following Ariana, a brief introduction to the film was made by sitting Wellington Councillor, Bryan Pepperell,
“It’s getting into it’s final stages where the agenda to actually get democracy out of the way of business is actually now reaching a high-point.There’s an awful lot of window-dressing and democracy in New Zealand context has become that, substantially window dressing…”
He then shared with the audience when his first disquiet over the election of the Lange Government came to him,
“When David Lange actually said on national television – and I remember the day when I sat and I watched it and I thought I can’t believe what I’m hearing – ‘from now on business is going to make the major decisions’. And that was actually a fairly startling thing as far as I was concerned… unfortunately poor old David probably got quite into something that was bigger than him, and here we are today with the consequences of those early decisions. And of course the National Party is utterly committed to helping it’s friends further the direction that we started in.”
The introduction completed, the screening began,
For many of us who lived through the period, memories of the time came flooding back. In some instances, several people in the audience even recognisedthemselves – with much younger faces – in stills and video footage of protest actions.
It is also worth recalling that despite calls from throughout the country, TVNZ’s Board rejected calls for widespread broadcasting claiming it it “too political”.
Of course it was bloody political!
It was so damn political that TVNZ’s boardmembers would have soiled their panties at the thought of upsetting their Ministerial masters in the Beehive.
As the doco’s producer, Alister Barry , said in November 2009,
“It was no accident that Someone Else’s Country wasn’t screened on TVNZ when it was completed in 1996.
It wasn’t that the Business Roundtable needed to actually tell the TV programmers not to screen it. Television executives knew perfectly well where their salaries came from and that TVNZ was being readied for sale.
Fourteen or fifteen minutes of every television hour – the very limit of viewers’ tolerance – was filled with messages carefully and expensively constructed to reach into their fears and appetites. Clutches of advertisements urged New Zealanders to “buy”, to think and feel like frustrated consumers. Airing a documentary which led viewers to think of themselves less as consumers and more as citizens capable of taking political action was not in the interests of the big corporations controlling the advertising dollar.”
It was not until 2003 that TVNZ finally mustered the courage to air “Someone elses’s country” – on a Sunday afternoon. Hardly peak viewing time.
Barry also had this pointed insight to make,
“It had been anticipated by New Zealand’s New Right revolutionaries, that by the early 2000s our values would have changed and we would have come to think like them, accepting poverty and extreme wealth as both normal and necessary. To pursue personal advantage and to care less about our neighbours. But studies show that in fact our values haven’t changed much from those of our parents and grandparents.
What is happening though, is that we are forgetting how things used to be and who changed them. Even as the human and environmental costs of the neoliberal experiment increase, we are finding it harder and harder to imagine how things could be better.
I hope you will find this film a useful antidote to forgetfulness.”
Which is what this country so desperately needs – an antidote to the collective amnesia which so many of our countrymen and woman so often succumb to.
As this blogger noted above; imagine the disquiet and anger that would result if “Someone elses’s country” was broadcast at prime-time, on a major tv channel – and then followed by Bryan Bruce’s, “Inside Child Poverty in New Zealand“…
The neo-liberal agenda continues. National plans to partially-privatise three power companies; a mining company; and Air New Zealand (which was privatised once before on 17 April 1989).
National is implementing a privatised form of education via “Charter Schools”.
And the economy is to be further “de-regulated” and made the rights of foreign corporations extended.
In a society run along neo-liberal lines, it becomes dangerous to upsets one’s
And shame upon shame to Jackson and his mates for aiding and abetting Hollywood’s Heavies.
What are they hiding?
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Anti asset sale rally – this Wednesday 13 February
= fs =
For a better New Zealand…
~ Cleaner rivers
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~ Less on Roads - more on Rail
~ A Living wage at $18.40/hr
~ Marriage equality - Yay! Got that one!
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