conservation noun the protection and preservation of the environment. Chambers Compact Dictionary
Censorship and opinion manipulation?
By Roger Childs
Our article title was first used by Investigate magazine when, many years ago, it examined the Department of Conservation’s (DoC) obsession with wanting to “restore” New Zealand’s bygone ecology. (Our environment columnist, Bill Benfield was a major contributor.)
The question still needs to be asked, in relation to the on-going poisoning of our land, especially with 1080. Former medical professor and keen outdoors enthusiast, Fiona McQueen, has recently produced a damning indictment on DoC’s disastrous aerial 1080 policy in her book The Quiet Forest. (See the review on November 29.)
Meanwhile the Department’s sensitivity over the issue has led to attempts to stifle dissent and threaten freedom of expression. What’s going on?
Support and opposition to 1080
Most people can’t believe that a government department would be party to a huge deception that is costing the country tens of millions of dollars.
Supporting the on-going poisoning carried out by DoC, are some powerful allies, including Federated Farmers, Forest and Bird, TB Free NZ and OSPRI. Keeping the campaign going, does of course guarantee employment for hundreds of people.
Who supports the anti side: just a bunch of Greenie nutters, life-stylers and Facebook sites, along with the small Ban 1080 Party? The reality is that opposition to aerial 1080 is growing, enough for Otago University to carry out a major research activity on the issue based around Te Anau.
Much to Federated Farmers horror there is also an organisation called FATE – Farmers Against 1080.
More and more solid citizens, principled scientists, honest academics and open-minded students are waking up to the disastrous impact of 1080 on wild life, notably killing many of the birds it is claiming to be saving, and the insects they feed on. So much for conservation meaning preserving and protecting the environment.
A cautionary tale of two schools
From memory … we did a presentation to Putaruru College students a year or two back. DoC was invited to do their presentation for one hour, and we were permitted one hour to do ours.
The students were then left to do their own research and consumption of the information. The result was that 21 out of 23 were opposed to the use of 1080 poison. It was also rumoured that one of the two pro-poison outcomes was related to a DoC staffer. But the overwhelming result from the open-minded students was that the poisoning of the environment was unacceptable. Clyde Graf
And I have been told that Mount Aspiring College, Wanaka, asked students to do a project on 1080, but there was to be no anti-1080 comment”. Carol Sawyer
Despicably, Forest and Bird has got in on the act of indoctrinating impressionable primary school children. A cartoon strip on the value of 1080 drops was distributed to schools and included birds talking about the poison. One bird advises another not to eat the bluey-green pellets. The advice is taken and the next year there is a full nest.
Trying to keep the lid on the issue
Don’t mention the war … Basil Fawlty
Over the year’s various tactics have been used to keep the realities of 1080 out of the news or to apply the spin.
A couple of years back a number of rock wren died in north-west Nelson after a 1080 drop. It made the TV news, but DoC’s explanation was a very cold winter.
Recently DoC announced that some kea had died in areas where 1080 had been dropped, but because of a public backlash, little more was forthcoming.
National magazines like North and South and The Listener seem scared to cover the topic, even though a big mainstream media scoop awaits them. Are they worried about an advertiser backlash? Advertisers supporting anti-1080 local papers have been threatened before.
Fish and Game draw the line
Carol Sawyer reports on a clear case of censorship.
A regular contributor to Fish and Game Magazine, who wrote a column for the magazine for over 10 years and often wrote feature articles on request as well, has resigned in disgust. He tells me the reason was that he contributed a feature article … on the 1080/Predator Free 2050 issue. It was deemed unacceptable by the editor and every mention of the word 1080 was removed, along with 250 words.
The contributor rewrote it, removing anything that could be considered even remotely offensive. He was then informed that the rules of the magazine had changed, and that everything now had to meet the approval of Fish and Game NZ’s CEO.
The editor of Fish and Game Magazine, said to him in an email:
“The decision on whether to publish this is, I’m afraid, out of my hands and with the communications manager. There has been an edict from the new CEO that we are not to touch the 1080 topic and nor are we to endanger relations with DOC. “
The magazine contributor wrote to me: “Fish and Game Magazine is now no longer an organ of free speech. It has become a tame house journal, propagating the views of its owners, and censoring all alternative views. In other words, it has been gelded. “
Fish and Game Magazine was bought in its entirety by Fish and Game NZ about a year ago. The former writer says “Up to that time, owned by Fairfax Media, it accepted all points of view.”
Lewis Hore comments on another example of stifling dissent.
New Zealand Deerstalkers Association’s “Hunting and Wildlife” also stopped printing any letters that criticised the DoCs 1080 campaign. All the NZDA, GAC (Game Animal Council), F&G are doing is sucking up to the whims of the DoC and OSPRI, don’t know when hunters and fishermen are going to wake up …
(More on “Fish and Game” and brainwashing children in our second article.)