Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Norman Kirk

Frost Over New Zealand: The Leaders

This 1973 programme (linked to, above) is in two parts. It is longish, so it does pay to set aside some time to watch it. The first part is the interview with Mr Kirk. The second part is with the then Leader of the National Party Opposition, Mr Marshall (a nonentity) who was later rolled by Robert Muldoon. I didn't bother watching the second part.

I am sharing this because Norman Kirk was a truly aspirational Prime Minister. He comes as a breath of fresh air unlike the so-called leaders of today, addicted to selfies and photo-opportunities. He was a true leader for the working people of this country, Aotearoa/New Zealand. He died, in office, at age 51, August, 1974. I still remember that time. I remember crying.

This programme was filmed previous to our Nuclear-Free Policy of the '80s, previous to the violence of the Springbok Tour of 1981 but those issues were clearly alive at the time of this interview with Mr Kirk. We were still previous to the Muldoon era, pre-Neoliberalism, pre-MMP, and around the time of Britain joining what was then known as the European Economic Community (EEC). You will note that we still had black and white television in Aotearoa.

The gentleness, the kindness, the intelligence, the humour of Norm Kirk shines through in this interview. His was the government which brought in the Domestic Purpose Benefit for women who had been abandoned by their husbands and partners, a benefit that for the first time enabled women to leave violent and abusive husbands, giving them an income good enough to allow them to still keep their children with them. His was the government which also brought in the Accident Compensation Comission so that workers who were injured at their work or in the weekend would still receive 80% of their income. Pensioners were given a Xmas bonus of an extra weeks pay, Home Building was stepped up.

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