Does an old say­ing still ap­ply?

Central Leader - - OPINION -

In oldie-speak, it’s: ‘‘ He who pays the piper calls the tune.’’

Freely trans­lated: ‘‘Who­ever’s got the dol­lars for the band runs the gig!’’

Ei­ther way, there’s a po­lit­i­cal mes­sage there in these strange days of Dot­comism.

Who­ever makes one of those big money po­lit­i­cal con­tri­bu­tions – anony­mous or what­ever – nor­mally does so be­cause they ad­mire the past and present prom­ises of the party they’re back­ing and want more of the same.

And there’s an un­spo­ken – and cer­tainly un­writ­ten – ac­cep­tance by the party that pock­ets the money that there’s a re­la­tion­ship be­tween giver and taker. A debt to be called in.

Most times, the pub­lic be­lieves it knows what the votes and cash rep­re­sents – what a vote to the Greens or the Maori Party, for in­stance, stems from.

In the past, it has some­times meant a be­lief in a wide and sig­nif­i­cant pol­icy like the So­cial Credit League, fol­low­ing the hard-to-un­der­stand mon­e­tary pol­icy from be­liev­ers in a Ma­jor Dou­glas in far away Al­berta.

Twice, So­cial Credit, which had an al­most re­li­gious zeal, got two seats in Par­lia­ment. In 1981, it drew 20 per cent of the to­tal vote with­out even one in five New Zealan­ders hav­ing real knowl­edge of the ma­jor changes to fi­nan­cial pol­icy the party urged.

New party name changes moved it away from Dou­glas’ Credit and a slow po­lit­i­cal death fol­lowed.

The ques­tions: What is the pol­icy of the rather bizarre In­ter­net-Mana po­lit­i­cal group on any­thing?

What role will Dot­com the piper have in de­cid­ing pol­icy be­fore the vote and af­ter­wards?

This is not a process of friend­ship based on he­li­copter rides to an Al­bany man­sion or pool par­ties to cel­e­brate All Black vic­tory.

Dot­com’s crit­i­cism of John Banks for ac­cept­ing money but not re­pay­ing in kind while he lan­guished with­out sup­port on a hard mat­tress in jail demon­strates his un­der­stand­ing of quid pro quo.

What pay­back will he ex­pect of the mixed bag of can­di­dates al­ready named?

How far will his very pub­lic dis­like of John Key go?

So what – if any – cam­paign de­ci­sion-mak­ing will Dot­com make and an­swer for? He who pays … In the mailbag: ‘‘While I whole­heart­edly agree with Pat Booth that Len Brown and his merry mer­ce­nary men are track­ing away from his live­able dream to­wards a debt-rid­den, traf­fic and people-jammed nightmare, I think his mem­ory may not have served him well on events in the mid­dle of the last century.

‘‘The new Manukau sew­er­age sys­tem had its ini­tial smelly mo­ments be­fore set­tling in to be­come a Mayor Rob­bie mas­ter­stroke but the fume at­tacks which spread mis­ery and ill­ness over a wide area of South Auck­land had a dif­fer­ent cause.

‘‘The paint on houses turned black, cur­tains and other ma­te­ri­als rot­ted, res­i­dents, and par­tic­u­larly chil­dren, suf­fered breath­ing and lung dis­eases caused by the fumes which con­di­tions such as wind and cloud cover spread at ground level from the meat works and other in­dus­tries which op­er­ated on or near Great South Rd at the in­ner end of the Manukau Har­bour.

‘‘These in­dus­tries sim­ply used the har­bour as the dump­ing ground for most of their waste, in­clud­ing huge quan­ti­ties of fats and pol­luted wa­ter, which rot­ted in the shal­lows and low-tide swamps and cre­ated in­cred­i­ble lev­els of malodor­ous and health-threat­en­ing toxic fumes.

‘‘I know be­cause, as an Auck­land Star re­porter, the fumes prob­lem was one of my ma­jor as­sign­ments in the late 50s. I spent days and nights track­ing the fumes sources and out­comes un­til, fi­nally, the meat­works, Borth­wicks and Hellabys, cleaned up their acts or folded their tents and left. Other ir­re­spon­si­ble pol­luters fol­lowed suit.

‘‘If only Mr Brown and his heads-in-the-sands coun­cil­lors and hugely-in­flated bu­reau­cratic army would do the same.’’ – Garth Gil­mour

The piper: What role will Dot­com have in de­cid­ing pol­icy be­fore the vote and af­ter­wards?

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