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On The Right: The Purple Antelope Test

From Mike Heine of Prebble's Rebbles...

All right, a quick quiz. Hands up those of you who think this Government is a firm believer in democracy and the right to free speech, no matter what your beliefs.

All right, to those who put your hands up, raise them again if you believe the moon is inhabited by purple antelopes in frilly ball dresses.

Thought so.

Throughout the year I have written about the attempts by Labour to stifle opposition to their policies and to reward their supporters with nonsensical laws like the Employment Relations Act and the ACC changes. There seems to be no let-up in their attempts to control every aspect of our lives. If further proof is needed, here it is.

Last week the students at Waikato University were forced to return to compulsory membership of the student union. Voluntary membership had been in place since 1996 and had been voted for at referenda every year since. At the most recent referendum before last week’s one, in 1999, 33 percent of the University voted and the result was overwhelmingly in favour of voluntary membership. Other referenda had voter turnouts of between 25 and 33 percent.

Last week, 10.5 percent of the campus voted. Most people were at home on their study break before exams.

Now here’s another question for those of you playing at home: if the Government decided to hold an election and
- they decided to hold it the following day
- it was the summer holidays, the least likely time that people will be in their electorates
- no other parties got the opportunity to put their view across to the voters
- the election was run by supporters of the Government
- only 10.5 percent of the country voted
would you deem the election to be fair and democratic?

Well, that’s exactly what the students at Waikato had to go through last week. In addition, at a meeting of pro-compulsory groups and people, including Vice-Chancellor Bryan Gould, it was decided that if the result came out compulsory, then the WSU President would become the student representative on the university council. This will be instead of the duly elected candidate, M. Forbes, who achieved more than twice the support from voters than the three WSU executive members earlier in the year.

Compulsory supporters claim that by not having a WSU member on the council means that the student representative could vote blatantly against the student’s wishes and not be stopped. That is a remarkable statement to make given that the WSU is quashing the student’s wishes in removing the democratically-elected representative and replacing him with one of their own - a person who has also gone against her own constitution which says the Union must campaign for voluntary membership.
(Granted, that last sentence was a bit of a mouthful, but it’s a lot easier to swallow than the goings-on I’m describing).

All this has been made possible by the Government’s amendment to the Education Act, which has made the events of the last week nice and lawful. It’s got to make you wonder how Labour and the Alliance got away with it.
Well it made me wonder anyway, and the only theory I have is that the Government’s illogically long honeymoon period meant policies such as this and the abolishment of the West Coast meant these policies were implemented without scrutiny by the media. And because of the new act, there cannot be another referendum for another two years.

Well here’s a challenge for the Government and the WSU. You are both so good at bending the rules; how about you hold another referendum at the beginning of next year. Give everyone ample notice, make it a postal vote and let both sides have equal funding to put across their points of view. Then noone would have reason to accuse you of corruption and being as democratic as Stalin.

Make it a fair election, and see how the result turns out. Go on, I dare ya.

ENDS

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