Kapi-Mana News : July 16th 2013
11 KAPI-MANA NEWS, JULY 16, 2013 OPINION/FEATURE Shearer's 'man ban' challenge TALKING POLITICS GORDON CAMPBELL As the man ban'' fades into history, the ripple effects continue from one of the stranger episodes in recent politi- cal history. The proposal, which might have endowed Labour's candidate selec- tion process with the option in some electorates of choosing an all-female slate of candidates, never did exist beyond a remit due to be voted on in November at the next Labour Party conference. However, it speedily became a PC Gone Mad'' media panic, which finally induced Labour leader David Shearer to step in and quash the remit altogether. Poor Shearer. He would have been damned if he'd let the supposed anti-male virus take hold. Having acted though, he was damned for over-riding the demo- cratic procedures that the last Labour annual conference had put into place. Ultimately, Shearer decided that the risk of wider electoral damage to Labour over-rode any internal party misgivings. No sooner had he killed the remit, however, than journalist Duncan Garner floated rumours on social media that a coup- related letter was being circulated among Labour MPs. Shearer was done'', Garner melodramatically claimed, with- out producing any supportive evi- dence either at the time, or later. More than ever last week, Shearer seemed to be boxing at media phantoms, to the under- standable fury of his supporters. Meanwhile, the issue at the heart of the man ban'' remit still exists. Women are under-represented in Parliament -- a third of all MPs, when there should be half. Ironically, Labour is hardly the main source of this problem. Women comprise 41 per cent of Labour's entire caucus. By con- trast, only 25 per cent of Nation- al's caucus are women, and among its 24 ministerial office holders within and outside Cabinet, there are only seven women, or 29 per cent. Again by contrast, amid Labour's 20-strong shadow Cabi- net, eight contenders (40 per cent) are women. Only among the Greens, who operate a quota system in which their party list rankings alternate between male and female candidates, is gender parity a given. The statistics also support the man ban'' contention that the selection problem occurs mainly at electorate level: of 70 electorate MPs from all parties, only 20 -- or 28 per cent -- are women, while among Parliament's 51 list MPs, 39 per cent are women. The rationale for positive dis- crimination in favour of women in candidate selection is that this would help to counter the existing bias towards men in selecting electorate candidates -- whereby, among equally qualified candidates, men are seen as being relatively free of the childcare and family roles that might otherwise interfere with their electorate duties. In practice, though, the man ban'' remit seems likely to have been a crippling political liability. On the election trail, any Labour candidate so selected would have been open to challenge as being the product of affirmative action, and not someone chosen on merit. For Shearer, the problem with the remit was that it enabled the media and his opponents to por- tray him as being captive to the identity politics of Labour's liberal fringe, while by default, being relatively clueless about the day- to-day struggle that voters are having in making ends meet. In quashing the remit, Shearer did what was politically necess- ary. Yet he still appeared reactive to a situation that, arguably, his party should never have publicly presented him with, at least not in that form. German builder recalls good times By ANDREA O'NEIL Lasting legacy: German tradesman Helmut Modlik, right, one of his five children, deputy mayor Liz Kelly, and kaumatua Mahu Wineera at Takapuwahia marae last month. Photo: ANDREA O'NEIL A touching love story came to light when one of Titahi Bay's Austrian House builders visited his old stomping ground last month. German man Helmut Modlik, 82, left his fiancee back home in 1953 to join hundreds of other Europeans building pre-cut Aus- trian state houses in the Bay. Mr Modlik soon found himself fully involved in the social life at Takapuwahia pa, attending boogie woogie dances in the old meeting hall. He fell in love with a Ngati Toa woman, Haneta (Becky) Arthur. Breaking his engagement, Mr Modlik married Becky and the pair had five children, including Porirua deputy mayor Liz Kelly. Life was full of fun and adven- ture in the Bay, Mr Modlik said. Finding New Zealand's six o'clock pub closing tough, many Austrian builders bought motorbikes and raced up and down the Kapiti coast, evading traffic police along the way. It was a strange country for us. We like a beer,'' he said. Mr Modlik's involvement with Ngati Toa Mormons led him on a mission to build a church in Hamilton. Once children came along, he converted a combi van into a caravan to take the family ski- ing. I had a lot of fun with the kids,'' he said. Years later the Modliks split and Mr Modlik moved to North- land. Then in 2001 he got an email from the grand-daughter of his former fiancee, Johanna Mathauser, wondering what became of him. That spurred a reconnection between the old fla- mes and he and Johanna have been a couple ever since. His life has sort of gone a full circle with his first love,'' daugh- ter Ms Kelly said. Mr Modlik now spends half the year at Johanna's home in Aus- tria, and she usually joins him the rest of the year in Northland. He hardly ever makes it back to Porirua these days, and mis- sed an Austrian builder reunion organised by kaumatua Mahu Wineera in April, so enjoyed a chance to visit the marae last month and reminisce about the good old days in the Bay.
July 9th 2013
July 23rd 2013