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Anderton: Liquor industry ad an ‘Orwellian’ history lesson

Jim Anderton, leader of the Progressive Party and MP for Wigram said today that anyone who wants to know how $200,000 a day is spent by the liquor industry to promote its product only needs to look at the new DB Export advertising on television, in the print media and cinemas as it slashes into New Zealand history with methods that would be appreciated by ‘1984’ author, George Orwell.

“The ad is set in 1958 around the time of the so-called ‘Black Budget’ of Labour’s Finance Minister, Arnold Nordmeyer. It would be a good resource for NCEA students and their teachers as a classic example of Orwellian propaganda techniques used to distort history,” Jim Anderton said today.

The 1984-type facts and the truth are as follows:
•1984-type fact: “Fancy a pint with a tight fisted bore” is the way the Labour Party’s Finance Minister Arnold Nordmeyer is portrayed. It continues, “As far as misers go, old man Nordmeyer took the cake”.

Truth: In the 1958 Budget, Nordmeyer had raised excise on beer, spirits, cigarettes and petroleum products as a part of a package to meet a balance of payments crisis that had been caused by the previous National government. Arnold Nordmeyer was putting the interests of New Zealand before short term political gain. He was not trying to stop the working man’s drink after work but to raise revenue from non-essential items. Nordmeyer was also of course the architect of New Zealand’s Public Health Scheme, at the time the envy of the world.

•1984-type fact: Nordmeyer’s “infamous 1958 ‘Black Budget’ was a puritanical regime that taxed the world’s best beers so heavily no ordinary bloke could afford to drink them.”

Truth: In 1958, the amount of imported beers coming into New Zealand was next to nothing. The working man did not drink imported beer at the pub or at home. Imported beer did, however, have a tax advantage over the local product. Nordmeyer equalised the excise so that local and imported beers would be equally taxed.

•1984-type fact: “Morton Coutts found the situation about as tolerable as a tofu burger. His mission was gutsy but simple: to dodge Nordmeyer’s tax by brewing the world’s best beer, right here. ”
•The ad implies that Morton Coutts invented the Continuous Fermentation Process as a result of the ‘Black Budget’ to give working men back their export quality beer.
•The ad shows the ‘toffs’ being thrown out of the public bar to be reclaimed by working men now that they can afford to drink good beer again (which has been altruistically ‘created’ for them by Morton Coutts).

Truth: Morton Coutts had taken over his father’s brewery in 1918. He had used the innovative Continuous Fermentation Process since 1956 – not as a result of the ’58 budget.

Nordmeyer’s budget, besides raising revenue to meet a serious budget deficit, was aimed at encouraging manufacturing in New Zealand so that full employment policies were maintained. Rather than beating the system, Morton Coutts was doing exactly what the Labour government wanted – building up a strong manufacturing base and creating jobs for New Zealand workers.

•1984-type fact: Film footage titled ‘Men rioting in Wellington’. One is led to believe it is working men protesting over the price of a jug!

Truth: The ad uses real film footage shot during the Waterfront Lock-out of 1951. There were no riots in Wellington or public demonstrations of any sort against the 1958 Budget.

“Pumping hundreds of thousands dollars a day into advertising campaigns like this one reveals once again the liquor industry’s cynicism towards New Zealand’s social problems, our history and the working people that drink the fourth most amount of beer per head in the world. For the liquor industry, there are no bottom lines. The creators of this ad would have a place in George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth where lies are truth and truth are lies,” Jim Anderton said.


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