Bring back David Lange. Yes I now he’s departed this mortal plane. I mean his spirit. We’ve lost it.
by Martin Harris 7/5/21
The author arrived as a permanent resident of New Zealand in 1982, fleeing mass unemployment and looming threat of nuclear annihilation (according the media at least). Leaving the grim industrial landscape of Northern England and arriving in Christchurch was rather like Dorothy opening the cottage door to be confronted by the technicolor wonderland of Oz.
Scratch beneath the surface however, and there was trouble in Paradise.
Robert Muldoon’s National government had a slogan: Think Big. Big projects, big ideas…all fine if you have a big wallet. And that was something NZ didn’t have. Incoming Labour Prime Minister David Lange acquired quite a challenge, and the sweeping reforms, labelled by some as a revolution, saved the country, but at considerable sacrifice. That’s a blog topic all it’s own.
But invoke the name David Lange and economic reforms isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. New Zealand’s “No nukes” policy is what reverberates through the halls of power and is remembered in song and legend, not to mention TV ads.
New Zealand became the geographical equivalent of Yoda. A small, rather eccentric green thing in a backwater swamp that possesses powers somewhat disproportionate to it’s diminutive size.
The audacity of a tiny Pacific nation, previously famous for its hordes of sheep and associated jokes, created a great disturbance in The Force.
New Zealand’s “No nukes” policy upset our closest allies (and probably delighted Russia, but that’s another story), but it also gained us respect and enormous publicity. We stood up to the world’s greatest military power, and they didn’t wipe us off the map, after all, the world was watching and everyone loves an Underdog. To repeat, it gained us respect.
And so to the Present day. Labour is in power again, and the world has changed drastically. The US is still the Top Dog, we still have our ever-popular and now legendary Nuclear Free stance, but the USSR has long gone. Communism, however, has not. The Iron Curtain has been replaced by The Great Wall. China is the new rival superpower to the USA, but it’s warfare tactics are very different.
Instead of bombs, bullets and nuclear warheads, China clutches the world by the balls using trade: Money is their greatest weapon of potential destruction. That probably explains New Zealand’s approach to China.
The greatest threat from China is a creeping under-the-radar takeover; a gradual encroachment on Western democratic freedoms. And sadly it is being aided by our leaders, who all too often have been “fixed”, to use CCP terminology.
So when Human Rights abuses: Uighur genocide, suppression of religious freedoms, forced organ harvesting (reportedly sometimes from live subjects) enter the spotlight, New Zealand stares at it’s feet and mumbles some vague utterance about being a wee bit concerned. No longer the “Mouse that roared”, more a case of the frightened rodent creeping past a slumbering Tomcat.
Despite the stirring music and words, I’d hardly call Ardern’s “condemnation” of China particularly strong or resolute:
Were we to invoke the spirit of David Lange and stand up to the CCP’s bullying and bribery, what would we lose? A trade that involves them taking our premium quality goods in exchange for cheap steel (cheap in both sense of the world) and cheap plastic goods made from our own recycling waste? And what have we to gain? RESPECT.
Take a GOOD LOOK at what the Filipinos are doing! LOOK!!! They told China to fuck off. Screw diplomacy!
C’mon New Zealand, we have better trading partners eager to do business with us. Do we cower in fear, or stand up to bullies and gain respect?