Recent Notes 23: Support for Oz aid falls
Recent Notes 25: Racism drives Oz referendum

Recent Notes 24: NZ ready to turn right


The New Zealand Aotearoa national election will be held on 14 October and the Labour Party, minus its charismatic former leader Jacinda Ardern, is in big trouble. In recent polls it has fallen 10 points behind the conservative Nationals, 27%-37%.

With the Greens included, the progressive vote is only 39%. With two right wing parties added to the Nationals, the conservative vote is a daunting 53%. The Te Pāti Māori Party, with only 3% of the vote, is seen as a probable kingmaker. But with 56% of Aotearoans saying that New Zealand is “going in the wrong direction”, the future of Labour leader Chris Hipkins looks bleak.

It’s against this backdrop that Katherine ‘Kassie’ Hartendorp writes: “Kia ora Keith - Our general election is one month away, and we are at a real tipping point. At Action Station we genuinely believe in the hope and possibility of a fairer, flourishing Aotearoa. But right now, we want to be honest about what is at stake. The outcome of this election could cut right through some of the kaupapa [Māori customary practice] that we have worked hard to protect over the last few years.

“On the one hand, we are facing the biggest threat to the gains made by our ActionStation community over the past decade, while on the other, many people who care about a fairer future already feel defeated and are at risk of not voting. This is a dangerous situation for us to be in. Every single progressive vote that doesn’t happen increases the power of those driving attacks on our communities.”


In early 1971 young journalist Alex Mitchell had just begun working for British TV’s World in Action program, when he was sent on his first overseas assignment to Uganda to interview Idi Amin. He had just arrived and was taking a refreshing swim in the hotel pool when his “laps were interrupted by a giant who dived into the water and started to churn up and down.” The giant turned out to be Amin who challenged Mitchell to a swimming race, which Mitchell had the good sense to lose. But he got the interview he was seeking and became the first journalist to interview the newly-installed self-appointed Uganda dictator.

Mitchell, who went on to become the chief political writer for the Sydney Morning Herald, in retirement has authored a number of books about politics. Just released is the short but powerful, ‘Idi Amin: The Man Who Stole Uganda’, which one reviewer has called “a great introduction to a fascinating time in the history of Africa as it was attempting to shake off its colonial past."

Mitchell writes about the ignorant thug who, with the support of powerful international friends, rose from being a lowly soldier to lead one of the most brutal regimes the world has seen. Mitchell says: “This book is my own account of the unfolding of the Idi Amin story in 1971 and how it has continued, in the course of more than 50 years, to shed light on the covert workings of imperialism.” Email Judith White for purchasing details here: [email protected]


Allan Patience

“One gets the uncomfortable feeling that Albanese and [defence minister] Marles are like little boys let loose in a lolly shop,” writes Dr Allan Patience in Pearls & Irritations. “Jumping on planes and flying hither and thither is just too exciting for them to pass up.”

In his essay, ‘Albanese: The overseas prime minister’, Patience addresses the current sorry state of the referendum campaign on the Indigenous Voice to Parliament and the need for Albanese to address this more effectively. “If the Voice referendum fails, the damage to Australia’s reputation in Southeast Asia, East Asia, South Asia, and across the entire globe will be immeasurable. And the damage to Australia itself will be enormous and long-lasting.”

Patience makes two important points on Albanese's travel (12 overseas trips in 18 months as prime minister): overseas trips by government ministers must clearly advance Australia’s interests and there should be far more transparency about what ministers achieve when they travel abroad. At present, he writes, “underhand secrecy [is] becoming a hallmark of the Albanese government.”

He states as a case study Albanese’s “rationalisation” of his recent visit to Jakarta to unveil his plan to promote Australian trade and investment in the region.” Surely this important policy document should have been unveiled here in Australia,” Patience writes. “The policy highlights the weaknesses of Australian businesses in their meagre engagements with our Southeast Asian neighbours. This underlines the great Australian ignorance….about the histories, cultures, languages and economic possibilities in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.”

And beyond all this it is the Voice referendum that is “the most important proposal for constitutional change ever to come before the Australian people” and Albanese and his colleagues must make “every effort [and] be focused on getting a majority of Australians and a majority of states to vote Yes.”


Tinpis Run is one of the few Papua New Guinean full length feature movies and is very old, well known and always worth seeing again. And I must thank my friend Slim ‘Bai U Lap Nau’ Kaikai for drawing it once more to my attention. It was released way back in 1991 and directed by Pengau Nengo with Suzi Buri, Gerard Gabud, Leo Konga, Rhoda Selan and the people of PNG as its stars. You can view it on YouTube here

Highland chief Papa (Leo Konga) drives a taxi in the city and, as the result of a number of escapades, takes his taxi business around the country where there are many more escapades and, at the end, involvement in a fully-fledged war. Despite production and screenplay flaws of various kinds, it was received well by critics as “a great example of how a film can be both entertaining and insightful. Mixing road-trip hijinks with a serious look at Papua New Guinean identity sounds impossible to pull off, but Nengo manages it quite well.”

So wrote Films Fatale, who added: “This road-trip comedy is enjoyable from beginning to end! Over the course of an hour and twenty-five minutes, and a few strange adventures, we see a broad section of Papuan life. With amusing performances and a good deal of social commentary, it offers a rich and entertaining viewing experience…. Considering how many different elements this film was balancing, however, it did an admirable job of giving its concepts and characters their due.”

In 2022, Robert Mawe remarked: “It breaks my heart watching it and recalling the great 1980s. I’m familiar with scenes along the highway especially Ramu, Markham, Kainantu, Goroka and Daulo Pass. The  Police highway patrol station  wagon was standard issue for all highway patrols in the 80s. As much a movie as it is, it just reminds me of the golden era of the 80s forever etched in my heart.”

Film critic Rowan Sullivan saw much more in the movie: “Under the comedy, there’s a critique of the lasting effects of colonialism. In the early scenes of the movie, when Papa is looking for a new truck to restart his taxi business with Naaki, he finds a beat-up truck being sold by a white man. Papa, old enough to remember the neo-colonialist rule of the country under Australia, calls the white man ‘master’ and doesn’t question his extortionate price. His unquestioned trust of the white man shows the lasting effect of colonialism’s promotion of white superiority.”


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Philip Fitzpatrick

Richard Marles (Peter Dutton with hair) is the defence minister and deputy PM. Penny Wong is the foreign affairs minister. She would make a really good PM.

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