Opinion: Jacinda Ardern has positioned Labour closer to social democratic values Jim Anderton espoused, than other leaders

That tears flowed in abundance during Jim Anderton's funeral will have surprised no-one. He was a very good politician. He was also a good man.

For many grieving at the passing away of this previously granite-like pillar of the centre-left, the sadness of the occasion will have also been tinged with another emotion — guilt.

Mr Anderton died peacefully overnight in Christchurch, aged 79. Source: 1 NEWS

It would be fascinating to know how many members of the post-1984 Labour Party caucus bothered to turn up at Christchurch's Sacred Heart Cathedral for Thursday's requiem mass for their former brother-in-arms.

It would be even more interesting to know how many of those former colleagues who had shared Anderton's misgivings about the direction the-then new Labour government was rapidly heading were willing to confront their guilt at failing to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Anderton at the time.

The former Deputy Prime Minister will be remembered for many things, says Jacinda Ardern. Source: 1 NEWS

Matt McCarten, Anderton's one-time, long-time lieutenant, has described the former long-serving Christchurch MP as the "toughest politician I've ever known". Anderton sure needed to be.

Within months of Labour winning office in 1984, Anderton was very much on the outer — literally.

He may have technically had no more status than other MPs in their first term in Parliament. But he had some influence and reach from having been Labour's president prior to his entering the House.

He first aired his unhappiness by blaming Labour's defeat in the Timaru by election in 1985 on the direction economic policy was taking.

David Lange banishes Anderton to 'Siberia'

The funeral of Anderton, a towering figure in New Zealand's political landscape, was held in Christchurch. Source: 1 NEWS

As Labour's leader, David Lange responded by sacking Anderton from the chairmanship of one of Parliament's major select committees and banishing him to "Siberia" — the apt name given to a shabby collection of prefabricated offices then reserved for hopeless backbenchers and troublesome dissidents.

In the view of the senior members of the party's parliamentary wing Anderton's crime was to establish himself as the party's unelected conscience.

The chunk of Labour's caucus who shared Anderton's increasing worries about the scale and nature of the reforms tumbling out of the office of Sir Roger Douglas — Labour's single-minded, single-track finance minister — were either too scared to speak out publicly or considered it grossly disloyal to do so.

The likes of former PM Jim Bolger and current politicians were present at Anderton, a long serving politician's funeral. Source: 1 NEWS

Anderton was in a minority of one. Most other politicians would have bowed meekly to the stark reality they were on a fast road to nowhere and faded into the background.

But not Anderton. He knew he was right. He knew his colleagues had got things very long. Moreover, Anderton realised Douglas was only just getting started. That Anderton had the courage to fight on his own what he considered to be the scourge of Rogernomics has been the dominant theme of the many obituaries that have appeared since his death early last Sunday morning.

Of course, it is easy in retrospect to single out those who should have weighed in behind Anderton. But is it fair to do so?

Unwavering Anderton never plagued by self-doubt

Former prime minister Helen Clark has today described Mr Anderton as a voice for the voiceless and the marginalised. Source: 1 NEWS

Anderton was not always an easy person to like. He was not plagued by self-doubt. Once he was convinced he was right about something, his point-blank refusal to change his mind made him sound self-righteous.

He was a purveyor of heavy sarcasm which he applied in liberal quantities to belittle those with whom he disagreed.

He long used the tired old line about "not having to be a rocket scientist" to understand some matter or other of current import — the implication being that whomever was taking a different view from him lacked the intellectual rigour to put forward a credible argument to support what they were saying.

When confronted with being required to approve or sanction some course of action to which he was opposed, his natural inclination was to respond at some point of a continuum running the gamut from sheer stubbornness to downright intransigence.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was among a host of politicians past and present who attended. Source: 1 NEWS

He was a serial talk-a-holic. When he spoke, it was not just the hind legs of the donkey which were at risk. The whole animal was likely to fall victim to the monotonous tones of an Anderton monologue.

The lecture would continue for as long as it took to browbeat those in disagreement with him into submission. He cared little how long it took.

He only needed to get to his feet once in the opening stages of a party conference to throw the timetabling of speeches by others completely out of schedule.

His verbosity was just another weapon of many at his disposal, however.

New Zealand version of the American-style 'machine politician'

In the days since his death, some have portrayed him as MMP Man.

At heart, he was anything but. Another former colleague, Laila Harré, has noted that it took him a "very long time" to be convinced of the merits of a change in the electoral system despite it being to the obvious advantage of the minor parties he led.

Having long ago been educated in the winner-takes-all school of in first-past-the-post politics, he was uncompromising.

He was a New Zealand version of the American-style "machine politician" — but with one crucial difference.

The ends often fail to justify the means in politics. But in Anderton's case the ends were the implementation of policies based on traditional Labour values.

Politicians from other parties might have had little time been for the policies he advocated. But his passing prompted plaudits from all quarters of the political spectrum because he was regarded as genuine.

Such were his positive qualities — and so deep did they run — that the obituaries have not ben filled with euphemisms that pepper most eulogies to deceased politicians.

The assessments of Anderton's contribution have accordingly been more honest — especially those of former colleagues like Harre and McCarten whose fallings out with him saw the collective of minor parties assembled by Anderton under the banner of the Alliance ultimately implode.

Toughness his biggest asset and biggest flaw

McCarten cited the toughness to which he alluded as being Anderton's biggest asset and biggest flaw.

The latter was to the fore in the above-mentioned split in the Alliance which saw rank-and-file activists refusing to comply with Anderton's wish to endorse Labour's support of the United States-led invasion of Afghanistan.

For once, Anderton got it wrong. Very wrong.

The opinion polls showed voter backing for the Alliance already crashing the floor. The Alliance was doomed.

In a strange way, it had done the job asked of it.

Since Anderton's death, McCarten and others have claimed that he turned out to be Labour's "saviour".

Such a verdict might sit snuggly with the fiction that it is all Happy Families on the left of politics.

If Anderton was such a saviour, he had a peculiar way of showing it.

He was utterly ruthless in seeking to take full advantage of Labour's self-admission to intensive care during the early 1990s to recover from the huge damage to the party's support base wreaked by permitting Douglas to hijack the party and ravage the fundamentals of Labour's ideology.

True, Anderton might have sought to save the longstanding principles which had guided the party previously through thick and thin while also giving it the validity to claim to be the voice of the labour movement.

He showed no mercy towards Labour as a political vehicle. His strategy was reminiscent of the famous statement attributed to an an officer in the United States army amidst the carnage of the Vietnam War that it had become necessary to destroy a village in order to save it.

Anderton's true legacy to Labour

Anderton was not interested in saving the Labour Party. He was not interested in destroying Labour in order to save it. He sought to destroy it and ensure it remained destroyed.

When it became clear he lacked the numbers in the Labour caucus to throw the monetarists out of the Labour temple, he quit the party and formed the NewLabour Party as a mechanism to force a clean-out from the outside rather than the inside.

By then, Anderton had been a paid-up member of Labour for more than a quarter of a century. He had served as Labour's president between 1979 and 1984 —the year in which he finally joined the party's parliamentary ranks.

That curriculum vitae cut no ice with Anderton. Such sentimentality risked weakening his resolve to weaken Labour for all time.

Somewhere within this imbroglio may reside Anderton's true legacy to Labour.

Even those currently in Labour's ranks too young to remember what happened should have felt a twinge of remorse on hearing that Anderton had died.

Jacinda Ardern is very much in that category. She was all of four years of age in 1984. Along with Andrew Little, her predecessor as leader and who was 19 at the time, she has arguably positioned Labour closer to the social democratic values that Anderton espoused than has been the case since the ructions caused by the party's swallowing of Douglas's neo-liberal medicine.

As long as she and those who follow keep feeling such remorse, Labour will never again allow itself to succumb to the beguiling voices of false economic prophets.

Source: 1 NEWS


NZ strawberry grower forks out $20,000 for security measures

An Auckland strawberry grower has forked out more than $20,000 for metal detectors, after needle-ridden strawberries were found in New Zealand.

On Sunday, three needles were found in one punnet of Western Australian strawberries at an Auckland supermarket.

It was still unclear where the needles came from.

Australia's strawberry contamination crisis comes just as New Zealand growers are about to put their fruit on the market.

The Zaberri Strawberry farm is just 20 minutes north of Auckland City.

A large silver tin shed sits at the entrance, that's the pack house, and 29 fields lined with rows of strawberry plants surround it.

The farm's owner, who goes by one name, Boman, has run the place for nine years.

In two weeks 150 of his workers will start the harvest.

"We pick [the strawberries] in the early hours of the morning, so ideally we try to have all of our fields picked before... midday, one o'clock and they'll be picked here, and scanned and sent to the packhouse," he said.

Police in Australia have been investigating more than 100 reports of contaminated fruit, many of which are believed to be hoaxes and copycat incidents.

And every Australian strawberry now has to pass through a metal detector before it can be exported.

The same regulations have not been imposed on the 150 New Zealand growers - but Boman was not taking any risks.

"So, we've invested in metal detectors, which will be installed here before our season starts and everything that's been picked and packed will be examined.

"We'll be adding additional surveillance cameras to capture everything that goes in and out of our cool stores," he said.

Despite spending more than $20,000 on the new security measures, Boman is certain the strawberry sabotage crisis won't happen here.

"Some might think that it's over the top, but I think it is better to be ready to ensure our industry is not put into a chaos like what's happened in Australia," he said.

It's a crucial time for strawberry growers - the harvest season has already started for some and it's about to start for others.

The Australian industry, worth about $AU130 million annually, was hit at the start of its season.

The scare prompted product recalls and forced growers to destroy their crops.

If the situation here reaches the same level, the $35m New Zealand industry will be hit hard, Boman said.

"It'll have a significant impact on our financial ability going forward, and not just for us, I think right across, from the growers mainly, retailers will be affected and there will be many employees.

"We've got people here whose whole family relies on them."

The maximum penalty for contaminating food in New Zealand is ten years' imprisonment.

By Katie Scotcher


Strawberry grower Boman
Strawberry grower Boman. Source: rnz.co.nz


All Blacks legend Richie McCaw shares his top tips for success with young leaders

There's no question that plenty of kids look up to Richie McCaw and dream of the kind of success he's had.

So, you can imagine how stoked 800 odd secondary students were today when the man himself shared his own leadership lessons at the Kids with Character Empower Me Leadership seminar in Auckland.

TVNZ1's Seven Sharp asked him what his top tips were for kids.

Tip 1:

"The first one that I really live by is that you can't go past hard work, if you think it's going to be easy, if you achieve it when it's easy you're probably not going to get the satisfaction of what it's all about."

Tip 2:

"Attention to detail, understanding of what it takes as not everyone knows, asking for advice or asking for help from people around you who can see things from a different way."

Tip 3:

"You got to have that drive. It's not someone telling you that you've got to work hard, you've got to really want to do it yourself and I think the people who have that are the most successful."

All advice that will help McCaw in perhaps his biggest challenge of all, becoming a dad.

McCaw spoke at the Character Empower Me Leadership seminar in Auckland. Source: Seven Sharp



More than 200 people report adverse reactions to recently-funded antidepressant

Concern is mounting over a recently funded antidepressant, with a growing number of patients reporting life-threatening side-effects. 

Pharmac's switch to funding Enlafax a year ago saves the drug buying agency $5.4 million a year. 

It expected around 1 per cent of the 45,000 patients taking it could experience adverse reactions because of the brand switch. That's about 450 people. 

While complaints now stand at over 240 and climbing, support groups say the number of people suffering is far higher. 

In a small Bay of Plenty town, one highly experienced GP, Dr Christine Williams, is grappling with the problem.  

"I've seen people that had gambling addictions return to gambling and lose their jobs. I've seen marriages break down," Dr Williams told 1 NEWS. 

She says this patent behaviour is all linked to the generic antidepressant Enlafax.

"With this particular group of patients I don't have any that are responding to it, not one." 

The symptoms of 12 patients are similar to those experienced hundreds of kilometres away by Amy in Marlborough.

"Within two weeks of starting Enlafax I was having nightmares and feeling depressed, thoughts of self harm and suicide," Amy said. 

Medsafe is standing by its decision to approve the drug which saw Effexor-XR replaced with the cheaper generic brand Enlafax.

It says the brand switch complies with international best practice and that tests show Enlafax has the same benefits and risks as Effexor-XR. 

"They don't switch to a generic without adequate research and investigation," Dr Jan White of the NZMA GP Council said. 

Dr White says she has seen no problems from Enlafax at her busy city practice. 

But complaints about Enlafax are piling up. The agency monitoring adverse reactions to drugs has now received more than 240 complaints, many identifying side-effects like severe depression and suicidal thoughts.  

And a Facebook page set up by patients with adverse reactions claims to have logged 450 negative responses to Enlafax. 

They're experiences like those of Amy who says her GP wanted to increase her dose when she became unwell.

The mother of two only learnt about negative side-effects in a 1 NEWS report three weeks ago. 

"I'm not sure if I would be here right now if I had waited and stayed on it," Amy said.

Dr Williams said: "I'm sure it's the tip of the iceberg."

And with the prospect of more vulnerable lives unravelling, Dr Williams says it's vital the previous brand Effexor-XR remains available. 

Where to get help:

Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.
Lifeline: 0800 543 354
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.
Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7)
Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz
What's Up: online chat (7pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 children's helpline (1pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-10pm weekends)
Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)
Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254
Healthline: 0800 611 116
Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

Pharmac’s switch to Enlafax one year ago saves the drug buying agency $5.4million per year. Source: 1 NEWS

Mackenzie District pleading for financial help to cope with influx of tourists

One of the country's most picturesque tourist destinations is pleading for financial help to cope with a massive influx of visitors.

The Mackenzie District Council has applied for a grant from the provincial growth fund to pay for a feasibility study in Tekapo.

The stunning views see 4000 people visit Tekapo every day.

Its popularity has led to rapid expansion, with five hotels seeking consent to build and new subdivisions filling up fast.

"With the problems that Queenstown has had, we think we've got a lot to learn," Mackenzie District Mayor Graham Smith told 1 NEWS.

The council's applied for $800,000 from the Provincial Growth Fund to help with future planning.

It’s applied for a grant from the Provincial Growth Fund. Source: 1 NEWS