Sunday, July 03, 2005

Call on Me

Foreign-owned Telecom and state-owned NZ Post are throwing their support behind the NZ flag petition, by including a petition with every Telecom bill in August which will reach approximately 1.4 million NZ households. According to their respective corporate spin merchants this does not mean they support the petition "We're not taking any position at all" and "It's merely a case of helping Kiwis share their opinion on the topic", both companies doing their part to provide more material for at least few more tired beer advertisments. Perhaps in the future both companies will combine again to distribute petitions calling for increased competition in the telecommunications and mail-delivery markets since that's a "good debate to be having" too.

Personally, open corporate support for trivial issues like this makes me feel kind of icky. Perhaps I'm old school, but I prefer shady backroom deals, an army of lobbyists and anonymous "donations" as the principal corporate method of manipulating government policy.


Zippy Gonzales said...

If you're feeling icky, Nick, I'd recommend a chill pill to control your nausea.

Speaking from experience of attempting to raise signatures for the NZ Flag petition (directly overseeing 10,000 signature collections in the Wellington region) I have blogged on the contraints facing this Citizens' Initiated Referendum ( If NZ Post and Telecom can lower the considerable barriers to public participation, then I'm all for it. Why? Because they have no control over the outcome.

As a former employee and a current Bad Debt, I have no particular love for Telecom. However, that does not stop me going to the Film Festivals they unabashedly host. Last year, the Welly Fest included the amazing The Corporation and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to see that in NZ's best movie theatre (The Embassy), which included a live introduction by the docu director. No Telecom, no movie fest. That's unless you want to pay for it all, Nick.

I would rather companies support increased participation for consumercitizens upfront and with reasonable transparency, as opposed to behind-the-scenes funding for selfish gain. Perhaps ignorance of the backroom decisions alleviates your conscience of the weight of responsibility of that choice. After all, it is easier to maintain a cynical reference point when one reaches the lofty heights of ignorance. That's your choice. Not choosing is still a choice.

Zippy Gonzales said...

PS: Better examples of CIR hurdles at

Nick Eynon said...

A corporate sponsoring an art or sporting event as part of their yearly advertising spend is far different from explicitly supporting a political campaign that has nothing to do with that corporate's interests.
The purity of the NZ flag campaign is tainted by association with Telecom in this way. That's not to say it won't be a successful method though.And although I wish the flag campaign every success I do not want to see corporate backing of CIR become the norm for any successful CIR in the future. They are Citizens not Corporate Initiated Referenda.
I just don't like the idea that an issue will only become worthy of a referendum because a powerful corporate with a large reach has benevolently decided it is in the public's interest.
By the way, I have already signed the petition, although I feel the flag issue is a diversion from the far important issue of why we will still have a foreigner as head of state.

Zippy Gonzales said...

At the current rate of signature collection and the virtually non-existent level of volunteers willing to do the hard yards collecting signatures, the CIR will fail. Desperate times, etc.

Machiavelli once said that one change makes way for others. My hope in supporting this referendum was that it would lead the way for more discussion on bigger themes, such as Head of State stuff (Ed Hillary for President!)

If we, as a bunch of people standing at Earth's last bus stop, cannot get our heads together on something so simple as a change of cloth, how in hell are we going to cope with the bigger stuff? Bitching and blaming only go so far.