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Dr Muriel Newman

Protest, Propaganda and Petitions

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On Saturday some 20,000 people marched down Queen Street protesting against the government’s proposals to mine conservation land. The rally was organised by Greenpeace with some protesters bussed in from the Coromandel and others coming from Great Barrier Island. The well-orchestrated rally demonstrated how business-like environmentalism has become.

Greenpeace is the Rolls Royce of environmental movements. It has a budget of almost NZ$400 million, with 42 offices worldwide, a staff of 2,400, and some 3 million financial contributors.[1] Greenpeace New Zealand is a professional organisation that raised around $5 million last year for the international movement, paying – according to their website – telemarketers $16.50 an hour to fundraise, community fundraising coordinators $46,000 a year, and media officers $53,000.

The Greenpeace annual report shows that the number of financial supporters in New Zealand increased by around 5,000 during 2008. While this would have been driven to some extent by the high profile anti-global warming campaigns that have been given prominence in mainstream media over the last few years, we should not dismiss the long term impact of increasing levels of environmental indoctrination in our education system.


Public concerns about the teaching of environmental propaganda in schools came to a head in 2007 following a British High Court ruling that Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth” contained such serious errors that it was banned from being shown in UK schools – unless the errors were corrected, and the alternative view, that climate change is a natural process, presented.

Since parents here complained that the film – listed on the Ministry of Education’s website as a teaching resource – was being shown in New Zealand schools without such caveats, the NZCPR launched a petition to Parliament requesting that provisions similar to those that protect British children be introduced into our Education Act. These safeguards make it an offence to teach political propaganda in schools, and if ideological matters are raised, it requires children to be offered a balance of views.[2]

Parliament’s Education Select Committee, which is dealing with our petition, invited me to a hearing along with the Ministry of Education last month. The Ministry denies that there is a problem. Any cursory examination of the school curriculum will however reveal that political propaganda and ideology – of all types – are deeply embedded in the system.

For instance, in a so-called secular education curriculum it is impossible to understand why Maori spirituality should play such a central role. The Maori world view, which is strongly promoted in teaching materials is not only the ideology of the Maori sovereignty movement, but also of the Maori and Green parties. Curriculum resource materials commonly present the view that anything ‘Maori’ is good, but anything ‘Pakeha’ is bad, with Western European culture and heritage – upon which our nation is based – negatively depicted.

Then there is the whole area of the curriculum that deals with “social justice”, which is code for socialism and is the ideology that underpins the Labour and Green parties. An anti-business ideology is ever-present with the feminist catch-cry of pay parity for women featuring strongly alongside the benefits of unionism – a stance well supported with resource materials from the union movement. In addition, the curriculum appears to advance the gay rights agenda, a liberal approach to drugs (instead of teaching kids to abstain from drug taking they teach them ‘harm minimisation’, or how to use them safely), it glorifies political activism – protest action, revolution and even terrorism – and promotes such explicit sex education that it is likely to be a significant contributing factor in current concerns about the early sexualisation of New Zealand children.

Then there is the whole area of environmentalism and ‘environmental sustainability’, the buzz words of the environmental movement. By using such themes, very young children are being indoctrinated with the ideology of the Green Party, namely that business exploits the environment, that consumerism is bad, and that humans are basically destroying the planet.

This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator, Dr Kevin Donnelly, an education expert and Director of the Education Standards Institute in Australia, explains, in his article Politically correct education and the cultural revolution, how influential interest groups have long viewed the education system as a powerful tool for transforming society and imposing their views:

“The argument that education must be employed to challenge the status quo, in part, is based on a Marxist view of society and what is termed the new sociology of the education movement. Instead of accepting that education is inherently worthwhile, radical educators argue that what counts as education and how it is managed is a socio-cultural construct, that is, what counts as knowledge is determined by what those more powerful in society decide should be taught. Competition and academic excellence, a belief in the best students being rewarded and the central importance of the academic curriculum were all, and still are, attacked as inequitable and elitist.

“A defining characteristic of Australia’s and New Zealand’s adoption of recent curriculum frameworks and syllabuses is the belief that knowledge is a socio-cultural construct and the argument that the traditional academic curriculum is an instrument used by those more powerful in society to oppress others. The result is that there is nothing special about Western science, putting faith healers and mystics on the same footing as heart surgeons, and Shakespeare’s Macbeth is deconstructed in the same way as SMS messages and graffiti.”

The point is that a national curriculum gives the state tremendous power to shape young minds and it is up to Parliament to ensure there are sufficient checks and balances in place to protect children from political indoctrination. Judging by the present content of the curriculum, the existing safeguards are sorely inadequate. The Select Committee is continuing its inquiry.


Increasing concerns about environmental issues also creates fertile ground for politicians. Over recent years, successive governments have jumped onto this particular bandwagon to sign New Zealand up to the Kyoto Protocol, which requires the reduction of man-made greenhouse gases in order to prevent so-called catastrophic global warming. National signed the protocol in 1997 and Labour ratified it in 2002.

New Zealand is one of only a small number of countries that have ratified the protocol, with the world’s major emitters refusing to commit. The Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012 and in spite of the best endeavors by global warming advocates, a successor has not been agreed to. If that continues all Kyoto liabilities will also expire in 2012 since an enforcement mechanism was never adopted. Not only that, but all emissions trading schemes will collapse.

Given that outlook and the fact that Australia has just announced that it is suspending its emissions trading scheme – to which New Zealand is now aligned – until 2013, it is surely time that National followed suit and suspended our scheme until 2013 as well.

After all, when the scheme was negotiated between Australia and New Zealand, particular care was taken to remove the incentive for businesses to relocate across the Tasman: “neither country should seek to gain a competitive advantage by taking a softer line on carbon emissions.”[3] The suspension of Australia’s scheme – on top of their just-announced progressive reduction of company tax down to 28 percent – now creates the very real risk that many of New Zealand’s wealth creators will move to Australia. That is, unless National suspends our scheme.

During the election, National accused Labour of trying to lead the world in climate change. They promised that under their stewardship a more moderate approach would be adopted. Yet in a statement in Parliament last year, Nick Smith stated, “On 1 July 2010 New Zealand will have the first emissions trading scheme up and running outside Europe, and it will cover more sectors than the European scheme does. We were also the first country in the world to include forestry, in 2008, and we were the very first country in the world to have a plan for introducing agriculture, in 2015. If we can settle our emissions trading scheme by December, we will be at the front end of international action on climate change, and will actually have the most comprehensive emissions trading scheme of any country in the world.”[4]

In other words, unless National suspends the scheme, from July 1st New Zealand will be burdened with the most expensive emissions trading scheme in the world. It will cover all sectors and all gases. The price of power and petrol will rise, as will the cost of food and all other consumer goods and services. These increases will hit struggling families and small businesses at a time when the expected rise in GST will create even greater financial pressures.

All around the country groups and individuals are realising that the National Party has become reckless and arrogant by pushing ahead with their emissions trading scheme in spite of overwhelming opposition. They are demanding that National follows Australia’s lead and suspends the ETS.

In a democracy numbers do matter, so today, the NZCPR is launching an on-line petition to send the Prime Minister a message – “SUSPEND THE EMISSIONS TRADING SCHEME”!

The ETS petition will be sent to the Prime Minister just before the Budget in the hope that he will see sense and announce the scheme’s suspension at that time. Collectively we must do everything we can to stop this ETS madness while there is still time.

1.Greenpeace, Annual Report 2008
2.Muriel Newman, Politics in School on Trial
3.Nick Smith, Letter from Minister of Climate Change 
4.Nick Smith, Oral Questions in Parliament