On the campaign trail in Dunedin North with Victor Billot

Alliance Party blog

Fun and games at the University Union

with 5 comments

I get invited to most debates in Dunedin. Community forums, unions, even church groups invite me along. But we seem to have real problems getting our voice heard at student events.

That’s right. You heard. Wild crazy students, radical longhairs chanting for the destruction of Western Civilization. Well, once upon a time.

Apart from a few slightly hazy protests about dope smoking (not really the most pressing issue) it seems students just ain’t interested these days. It would help if the Students Association did some serious advertising and ran proper multi-party forums and this is an issue I took up today.

I went along today to the University forum thinking there was going to be a mass debate due to a particularly confusing poster. Unfortunately it was just ex-United MP Judy Turner, a nice lady who sympathized all the poor students while explaining how she was going to “incrementally” change things. The only incremental thing I can see is a $10 billion student debt, it’s getting incrementally bigger while everyone says how terrible it is, but won’t actually do anything about it.

Well that’s all well and good but my point here is that I was not invited to speak at these forums. Despite being told by the current Student Prez that I “added something to the debates” earlier in the year, it seems perhaps I was adding too much because it looks like I got left out. Oh, yes, that’s right, we only want “parliamentary parties” to tell us about how great student fees are, even if they have no local candidates, no local profile and have done absolutely nothing except piddle around the edges or even work against free education.

What a waste of a plane fare! She had to come all the way from Auckland to speak to 20 people. Most of whom were eating their lunch, sprinkled with a few Alliance and Green supporters and a table of bright eyed and bushy tailed Labour Party youth hacks working busily on their future careers as professional yes men in Wellington.

So I took up the issue with the Student Prez there and then, in a fairly direct manner.

I look forward to my invite to speak at Otago University.

We’ll wait and see.

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Written by Victor

October 1, 2008 at 1:55 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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5 Responses

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  1. Cripes, I remember when I was at uni trying to stay aloof that everyone around me was a pro-MMP leftist reading Salient. Sad to know that political involvement has, apparently, gone down.

    Jack Yan

    October 1, 2008 at 4:14 am

  2. ‘So I took up the issue with the Student Prez there and then, in a fairly direct manner.’

    The hijacking of another political candidate’s forum by shouting and carrying on is a little more than a ‘fairly direct manner’. It was a shameful display that I’m sure former Alliance members such as Laila Harre would never have resorted to. Why have we heard nothing from the Alliance on campus until now? Plenty of other political groups are getting their voices heard without relying on OUSA to hold their hand. This is why the Alliance polled less than the Destiny Party in the 2005 election. Harden up!

    Hugh Mainatey

    October 1, 2008 at 11:57 pm

  3. Hugh, thanks for commenting! I’m glad you’ve checked out my blog and I’m glad you’ve commented. Keep it up. I appreciate opinions – even if I disagree with them.

    Now I am going to disagree with yours and tell you why I think your argument is so weak that it needs a glucose sweet to make it feel better.

    I’m interested to hear how I hijacked another candidate’s forum, because I didn’t.

    I did not interrupt Judy Turner once when she gave her speech. The whole event was a complete joke. Here is a politician who has flown down from the North Island with her assistant and she got to speak to a basically empty room, the majority of the audience was there to eat lunch. It was a waste of her time.

    She got to speak for about three minutes, got asked a couple of weak questions from El Presidente, and then there was a resounding silence from the few munching figures around the echoing hall. The only other questions came from the Alliance! What a painful display of complacency. If I hadn’t made my point, she would have been shuffled off back to the airport and that would have been another “successful” OUSA election forum. Bullshit.

    It was when she had finished, and had no questions whatsoever – and only then – that I gave Simon a little bit of a ginger up. It’s quite obvious that he had no intention of giving me a chance to talk to my community. I have since talked to an OUSA rep who has agreed despite our differences to give me a chance to speak at a forum.

    The OUSA policy of running individual candidate meetings is a waste of time. They need to have all up candidates meeting and put in a candidate whose going to go in to bat for free education, not a bunch of right wingers who will tell you how you are going to be in even more debt. Then they need to advertise it properly. You need a debate, a bit of heat and a bit of commitment. That is how you run a democracy.

    But it seems some people, perhaps you included, want to have a nice little controlled election where no one comes to meeting and no one is actually going to have any thing to say, because it appears we prefer to forums where no one comes and no one says anything. Easy to manage. No problems. Don’t actually stir things up, you might offend someone, or perhaps wake them up.

    Now, as I haven’t been invited to OUSA forums – unlike last election – it seems I have been deliberately sidelined by the current bunch.

    If Labour and National and there $10 billion student debt policies can get their “hands held by OUSA” then I don’t see why Alliance can’t have a fair billing. What are they afraid of?

    Half of the parties featured in these pathetic one speaker forums don’t even have a candidate in Dunedin North let alone one that actually gives a toss about students. It’s about democracy and freedom of speech. As we’ve seen with the John Key and Helen Clark debate saga, it seems that this is no longer required.

    You see, the only way I was going to get an invitation was by making a case. Laila Harre didn’t have to get up to make a case,

    The crowd seems more concerned about protecting their Labour Party mates and having a nice little stamp on their CV than actually standing up for students.

    If you haven’t heard anything from the Alliance, it must be because you aren’t listening. We have been at clubs and socs day, and student markets.

    As for shouting and carrying on. Well, I suppose student politicos these days like nice quiet polite meetings, as they all seem to be lame careerists in the main. You seem upset by my actions, but you don’t seem upset by a $10 billion student debt.

    In fact, the United Future political came up to me afterwards and said he was sympathetic that I was excluded. He said I should be given a place on the platform and had no trouble at all with me having a debate with his own MP. That’s a mature attitude to democracy.

    What do you want – a bunch of yes men, nice polite chit chat with politicians who will smile while they are fleecing you, or someone who is going to call it as they see it and not play the cosy little game?

    Man, if you think that was “carrying on”, you should have seen things back in the day. I was there when Bill Birch was literally chased off campus from the very same room and nearly ran someone over getting away.

    I suggest mate that you figure out who your friends are.

    Hope to see you tomorrow at the Dunedin College of Education auditorium debate at 3pm Hugh – come up and say hi.

    Victor Billot

    October 2, 2008 at 12:32 am

  4. Well put, Victor. This has got to be the lamest set of election forums ever to take place in the hallowed Otago union hall. Pretty pathetic that the OUSA lumpen-bureaucracy isn’t brave enough to invite the Alliance, the only party to actually advocate for completely free tertiary education, to its lame-arse ‘forums’. We get an invite from the Chamber of Commerce, but not the student union!

    Matthew Stephen

    October 2, 2008 at 9:05 pm

  5. The fact is, “Hugh”, that the Alliance is being excluded from the sham forums that OUSA is holding, even though we totally advocate in the interests of students. There has been no satisfactory explanation for this. Sometimes, if you are being pushed down, you have to jump up and down a bit in order to be given notice. OUSA were hoping we would roll over and sulk about this – harden up? this is us hardening up. When you care about your message you will fight to have the right to be heard. Perhaps students will remember what it’s like actually care about politics. OUSA obviously doesn’t.

    Sarah Campbell

    October 2, 2008 at 9:16 pm


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