Home' Greymouth Star : March 23rd 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Monday, March 23, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1534 - Pope Clement VII declares valid the
marriage of England’s King Henry VIII to
Catherine of Aragon.
1775 - US statesman Patrick Henry makes
plea for American freedom from Britain,
declaring, “Give me liberty or give me death”.
1887 - More than 80 miners die
in gas explosion in colliery at Bulli,
1918 - The giant German gun,
Big Bertha, shells Paris from
1919 - Benito Mussolini founds
fascist movement in Italy.
1964 - Death of Peter Lorre, Hungarian-
born actor who starred in gangster and horror
1981 - British great train robber Ronald
Biggs is taken into custody in Barbados after
his abduction from Brazil.
1983 - Dr Barney Clark dies in the US 112
days after being the first person to receive an
artificial heart; US President Ronald Reagan
announces plans for a new space-based defence
system later dubbed Star Wars.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Michael Joseph Savage, NZ Labour prime
minister (1872-1940); Joan Crawford, US
actress (1908-1977); Wernher von Braun,
German-born rocket expert (1912-1977);
Roger Bannister, UK athlete first
to run sub-four-minute mile
(1929-); Chaka Khan, US singer
(1953-); Kenneth Cole, American
fashion designer (1954-); Amanda
Plummer, British actress (1957-);
Hope Davis, US actress (1964-);
Keri Russell, US actress (1976-);
Princess Eugenie of York (1990-) .
“ In human relations kindness and lies are
worth a thousand truths.”
— Graham Greene (1904-1991).
“God is our refuge and strength, an
ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will
not fear, though the earth give way and the
mountains fall into the heart of the sea. ”
— (Psalm 46:1-2).
“ We were sitting in
the saloon watching
tv when we heard the
explosion. At first we
thought it was a collision with another ship.
We rushed to the deck and were amazed to see
the damage. ” This was the description of chief
cook Mr Bill Henderson, of Runanga, applied
to Kokiri’s fatal explosion on Saturday, March
Mr Henderson, a Grey district man, is back
in Greymouth until he takes up employment
on the Hinemoa after Easter. He is a 38-year-
old former Runanga man who joined the Navy
at 17 and has ser ved for various periods on
Kokiri totalling 12 or 13 years. The chief cook
said it was fortunate Kokiri did not possess
steam pipes, as the casualties would have been
“ It was bad enough as it was,” he said,
referring to the deaths of former Greymouth
youth, 20-year-old Ronald Walton, and
37-year-old Robert Patrick Scanlon, of Upper
Mr Henderson considered the helmsman was
most fortunate not to have been killed. “ The
bridge was a proper wreck and he should take a
ticket in the lottery. ”
The collier Kaimanawa which was to have
arrived in Greymouth last Friday to load coal
for Auckland, was detained in D unedin over
the weekend as it was not carrying sufficient
crew members. It had been expected that
Kaimanawa would help relieve the current
coal transport situation by handling much of
the coal loaded in the 400 loaded wagons at
present on the wharf.
Kaimanawa which was taken off the coastal
run towards the end of last year is in ser vice
again as a replacement for the ill-fated Kokiri.
uFood for thought
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nother week, another
decapitation. Last week’s
victim was a 42-year-old
woman, a grisly statistic
in a catalogue of slaughter
that totals hundreds,
perhaps thousands of victims, beheaded
by executioners wielding knives, machetes,
even chain saws. But this heart of darkness
cannot be traced to Islamic State (Isis) or
other Islamist killers hunted by the United
States and its allies.
Instead, Aide Nava was murdered by
a drug gang in the Mexican state of
Guerrero. She hoped to become mayor of
Ahuacuotzingo, a regional town, in the
June elections. Her husband, a former
mayor, was killed last year. Their son was
kidnapped for ransom. His whereabouts is
Nava’s headless body was covered with
a ‘narcomantra’ — a sheet bearing a note
written in red capitals — from Los Rojos,
one of the drug cartels locked into a
savage turf war for regional domination.
“This is what will happen to all the —
politicians who don’t want to sign up
— turncoats. Yours sincerely, Puro Rojo
ZNS. ” The message was clear: no State
The left-wing mayoral candidate was a
victim in a war that has claimed at least
100,000 lives since 2006. The dead are
sometimes displayed in grotesque public
tableaux. In Guerrero the murder rate is
42.7 per 100,000, compared to the OECD
average of 4.1. Decapitation is almost
commonplace in Mexico; last year at least
341 people died that way. Last year Jesus
Castillo, a hit man for the Barrio Azteca
cartel, told a United States court in El
Paso that he stopped counting his victims
— m a ny decapitated — after they reached
800. His bosses demanded a daily quota of
eight to spread terror.
If the carnage in Iraq can be attributed,
in part, to America’s thirst for oil, Mexico’s
massacres are collateral damage to an
insatiable US appetite for narcotics.
The US Justice Department estimates
drug trafficking is a $40.4 billion a year
industry, or 3 to 4% of Mexico’s $1.2
Mexico’s agony — Hillary Clinton
likened it to an insurgency — has fuelled
growing anger at President Enrique
Pena Nieto’s conser vative Institutional
Revolutionary Party Administration.
Elected in 2012, he vowed to restore
order, arresting several narcos, including
the Sinaloa Cartel’s Joaquin ‘El Chapo’
Guzman. But the underlying problems —
rampant corruption, poverty, violence and
weak governance — remain entrenched.
Public anger exploded in September,
when 43 student teachers vanished in
Iguala, also in Guerrero. According to
Mexico’s Attorney-General, they were
kidnapped by police, then murdered,
mutilated and burned by gang members.
So far just one has been identified from
charred remains. Their deaths were
allegedly ordered by Iguala’s mayor,
arrested with his wife. The students joined
23,000 people ‘disappeared’ during the
Ironically, the Iguala massacre, like
similar outrages, is an unintended
consequence of Mexico’s war with the
cartels. Back in the 1980s the major cartels
operated with impunity, protected by
Government officials, says David Shirk,
director of the Justice in Mexico Project
at University of California San Diego.
By smashing the status quo Mexico has
unleashed a more anarchic, savage climate
where smaller gangs proliferate, with dire
consequences for local authorities and
officials. The massacre is a sign of the
times, “a blending of local political agendas
and criminal savagery”.
Street and social media protests
demanding Pena Nieto’s resignation
have intensified a clampdown on dissent.
Yet, Shirk cautions against speculation
the Iguala massacre may spark political
change. “Every time there’s another
massacre or horrible killing, people ask,
‘Has Mexico turned the corner or is this
the last straw?’ And there’s always another
straw, there’s always another corner. ”
One atrocity is superseded by the next.
In a grisly coda to the Iguala massacre
Shirk says a 44th student was also
abducted that night. “ They found his body.
His face was severed off.”
Writing on Al Jazeera, Musa al-Gharbi,
a senior fellow with the South-west
Initiative for the Study of Middle East
Conflicts, says Mexico’s cartels are more
lethal than Isis. Yet, even Isis claims a
higher purpose: the creation of an Islamic
caliphate. The cartel blood count is strictly
It is a sharp contrast with a century of
Latin American left-wing conflict, most
recently Mexico’s Zapatista movement.
“All these young men who’ve died in the
past decade or two, if they had come of
age 40 years ago they would be picking up
a gun for a cause,” muses Shirk. “ Today
they pick up a gun to make a buck. It
says something about the current era in
Latin America.” It is an era defined by
neo-liberalism, notably the 1994 free trade
Nafta deal between the US and Mexico
that impoverished many peasants, who
switched to drug crops or became narco
In January, Barack Obama met his
Mexican counterpart at the White
House, where both affirmed their
commitment to the war on drugs. Their
words had a sense of rote. Reformers
contemplate regulating illicit drugs as
a health measure. This week Ernesto
Zedillo, Mexico’s President from 1994
to 2000, argued drug consumption be
decriminalised, a line taken by several
leaders at the United Nations last
September. At the same time some US
states are legalising marijuana. Bottom
line-conscious cartels are already
adjusting, trafficking more profitable
heroin or switching to extortion and
kidnapping, ratcheting up terror levels for
many ordinary Mexicans.
— New Zealand Herald
PICTURE: New Zealand Herald
A demonstrator wears a mask in protest over the 43 students who went missing in Guerrero State.
Heart of darkness
Malcolm Fraser was a paradoxical
prime minister whose record remains
He was a ruthless politician, yet widely
seen by his side as an economic policy
wimp; a workaholic who produced less
than expected; a deep conser vative; and a
He was an aloof patrician and a fer vent
anti-communist, yet an ally of militant
In short, he was more complex than his
critics from either end of the political
But the stereotype of the big, stolid,
rarely smiling man remained throughout
his political life. It was captured by Paul
Keating’s cruel jibe: “You look like an
Easter Island statue with an arse full of
John Malcolm Fraser, who died on
Friday aged 84, was prime minister from
November 1975 to March 1983, making
him the third longest-ser ving Liberal
PM after Robert Menzies and John
He was born on May 21, 1930 into a
wealthy pastoral Victorian family.
With that background, it was
unsurprising he often seemed more
Country Party than Liberal.
Another early influence was O xford
University. While his academic record
there was mediocre, he imbibed the
tradition of rational debate and emerged
an idealistic conser vative.
In 1955, he won the western Victorian
seat of Wannon in a by-election. He
was 25, the youngest member of federal
The following year, he married Tamara
Beggs, eldest daughter of another
prominent farming family.
There was no advancement during the
Menzies hegemony and it was 11 years
before Fraser became army minister in
Harold Holt’s first ministry.
He then rose steadily, being education
and science minister twice and defence
minister before Labor under Whitlam
finally returned to power in 1972.
There was one great eruption in this
In 1971, Fraser helped to destroy John
Gorton, whom he had backed to replace
Holt, by resigning as defence minister and,
in an emotional speech, accusing his prime
minister of disloyalty.
There was nothing emotional about his
As the Labor government faltered amid
scandal and disunity in 1975, Fraser and
his supporters turned on then opposition
leader Bill Snedden, who was still unable
to match Whitlam. After a classic stalking
exercise, Fraser toppled Snedden by 10
He then turned to Whitlam.
Fraser was convinced, especially after a
massive Liberal swing in a by-election,
that Whitlam could be defeated. But first
he had to force an election.
His method was to refuse supply in
the Senate, which the government did
not control. His justification was the
government ’s ‘reprehensible’ behaviour
over the loans affair.
The varying interpretations of the events
leading up to governor-general Sir John
Kerr sacking Whitlam and appointing
Fraser as caretaker PM ahead of a general
election have been told in detail.
After the dismissal, Whitlam made his
riveting Remembrance Day speech —
calling Fraser ‘Kerr’s cur’ and urging his
supporters to maintain the rage — but in
the election he was slaughtered.
Fraser had pulled off the biggest political
gamble in Australian politics, though some
thought the manner of it poisoned his
He was to win a second election against
Whitlam and a third against Bill Hayden.
Moreover, he also controlled the Senate —
a parliamentary authority no subsequent
PM was to enjoy until 2005. However, he
could never take the vote of all his senators
Paul Kelly has argued in Australian
Prime Ministers that Fraser, the last PM
before globalisation forced Australia to
break from its introspective economic
past, was a rural paternalist — a regulator,
a protectionist and a champion of state
Patrick Weller, in a study of Fraser’s
prime ministership, says Fraser took
Australia some way down the free
market track, including setting up the
Campbell inquiry, whose deregulatory
recommendations were largely
implemented by Labor.
In other less expected areas, Fraser
earned a different reputation.
He was an environmentalist, saving
Fraser Island from sand mining, to the
fury of Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke-
Petersen. The world’s largest sand island
became the first place to be listed on the
National Estate Register.
He set up the first part of the Great
Barrier Reef Marine Park and ended
whaling in Australia.
Believing it was wrong to turn his
back on old allies, he was welcoming to
He allowed thousands of Muslim
Lebanese fleeing their country’s civil
war to live in Australia, despite official
warnings many lacked the background to
Fraser believed in multi-culturalism and
established broadcaster SBS.
He listened to Aborigines and wrestled
with the states to implement his
indigenous land rights legislation.
Foreign affairs often consumed him.
Fraser’s greatest success was in Rhodesia,
now Zimbabwe. He was an effective
bridge between Britain, front-line African
states and the nationalist leaders on the
The ultimate beneficiary of the
settlement Fraser helped hammer out
may have been Robert Mugabe, who
became one of Africa’s most reviled
leaders and with whom Fraser became
‘deeply, deeply disappointed’, but it ended
a long and bloody conflict that set white
against black, and gave Australia an
unprecedented standing in Africa.
Fraser’s leadership style was unsettling.
His workload, his mastery of briefs and
constant questioning left ministers and
public ser vants exhausted. Although he
consulted widely, he almost always got his
In his third term, as the economy soured
and union militancy grew, Fraser became
Andrew Peacock challenged and
although decisively beaten, it was
symptomatic of growing unease.
Encouraged by an unexpectedly
comfortable by-election win in December
1982 and believing he could still beat
Hayden, Fraser called an early election.
But as he went to Yarralumla for then
governor-general Sir Ninian Stephen’s
approval, Hayden stood aside and Fraser
found he was facing the formidable
The former ACTU president, whose easy
manner and larrikin image was in contrast
to Fraser’s unbending style, won a 25-seat
majority on a 4% swing. Fraser accepted
responsibility, resigned the leadership and
anointed Peacock — rather than Howard
— a s his successor.
There was to be a long and rich life post-
politics for Fraser.
In 1986 Hawke nominated Fraser to be
a member of an Eminent Persons’ Group
to try to reach a South African settlement.
But despite promising early signals, the
mission foundered on the South African
government ’s intransigence.
The Hawke government also threw its
weight behind Fraser’s unsuccessful bid to
become Commonwealth secretary-general
His most consuming interest was Care
Australia, which he headed from 1987 to
2002, and built into a leading international
While many old PMs periodically annoy
their party’s present leadership, Fraser
made it an art form.
Fraser, who maintained he was consistent
and it was the Liberals who had changed,
finally quit the party after Tony Abbott
replaced Malcolm Turnbull in December
2009. — AAP
The paradoxical Malcolm Fraser
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