Today (2), it was one of the latter variety, with two rightie panellists, Mike Ponder and Richard Griffin. Griffin is a frequent paneleer and generally Not An Idiot. Ponder I have no knowledge of, perhaps because he spends his time flitting betxit New Zealand and Aussie, which puts me in mind of something Muldoon once said.
Anyway, during the panels deliberations, the topic of How Much More Splendid Australia Is cropped up, as it does every other week or so. This time, it was in the context of Michael 'Ebenezeer' Cullen's comments (3) about tax cuts not briding the income gulf between New Zealand and Australia. Ponder agreed with Cullen in general, explaining that Austalia was so much more fabulous than New Zealand that a few dollars couldn't compensate for the horror of being trapped in a country that (from his tacit description) gave North Korea a run for its money.
All very well. People can like Australia more than New Zealand, no matter how odd their reasons. His reasons for valourising Australia were: that Australia had a better climate, which is nonsense - ask any Aussie farmer; Australians enjoyed better opportunites, which is a wonderfully vague term, especially with no example given; the general way of life was more purposeful. Also, Aussies cherished their heritage and history more. While I'll concede that are many Australian cultural colossi, like Patrick White, Ivan Southall, Peter Weir, John Pilger, Clive James and Nick Cave, Aussie's, as a rule, aren't an international by-word for cultural savvy.
All debateable points, but not scurrilous or absurd. But there was more, oh yes.
Crucially, New Zealanders hated the New Zealand government (elected , last time I checked, by New Zealanders) and were sick of "the Maori issues. People just get sick of the Maori issue in their face all the time." Then Griffin - usually Not An Idiot, remember - chipped in, pointing out "in terms of the aboriginals, the the Australian's ... white Australian policy was disgraceful, but it's now an issue that's history."
Whoa, Nelly, what?
New Zealanders are leaving New Zealand because of "Maori issues"? What about the ... um ... New Zealanders who happen to be Maori, and who are leaving? Are they leaving because they are sick of "Maori issues"? Or is there tacit implication that New Zealander means white, and Maori must be something else?
And then Richard 'Not An Idiot' Griffin announces that the vast over-representation of Aboriginal Australians (note his slip - at first it is just 'the Australian's' who have an atrocious historical record, quickly ammended to ''White Australians') in all the bad statistics - crime, povert, child abuse, alcoholism, low life expectancy and all that - is "an issue that is history." Yeah, right. Sorry, but bollocks.
You can't just draw a line under mammoth injustices like thos inflicted on the Aboriginals. Even to do attempt to do that and say, "That's all finished with, we'll treat you nice from now on" is de facto racism, because the Aboriginals so over represented at the bad of the social statistics. You have to make redress, balance it out, take affirmative action, whtever you want to call it. New Zealand - slowly and painfully and reluctantly - is doing that. Maori tribes acan seek redress through the courts for past injustices (4), and Labour is improving the lot of Maori through - bluntly - race specific policies coupled with socially progressive measures. It is working, at a pace that New Zealanders - of all colours and backgrounds - seem to be accepting.
So, if there are New Zealanders - and by that I mean craven Pakeha scum who are in denial of historical injustice and the need to sort it out - are really moving to Australia becasue they're sick of the "Maori issues," then they can piss off. The country is better off without tacitly racist morons like that.
1 - Pompous Chris will be my new name for Chris Trotter, as The Moustachioed One seems too adulatory. This label, and Halt All Racist Tours, will be John Minto's lasting contributions to New Zealand society.
2 - Monday, 12th of November, 2007. Unfortunately, the audio is only available online for a week, that I'm aware of, so I won't bother linking. If this is not the case, please advise me.
3 - 'Labour's tax cut commitment doubted,' unattributed TVNZ article, 11th of November, 2007. (http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/1320238/1441580)
4 - Yes, I know. Foreshore and Seabed. Nothing is perfect. But this is not perfect and much worse.