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TVNZ Defence Programme Complaint

8 May 2000

John Urlich

Chief Executive Officer



Fax 09-9147918

Re: Assignment Program TV1 4/5/00 on Defence Policy  

Letter of complaint

Dear Mr Ellis,

I watched the documentary on 3 May and concluded the motive for putting the above 'investigation' on air was for propaganda purposes and for anti-government reasons. There are several grounds, which support this serious allegation, which violated media freedom, viz

  • There was nothing new added to the debate, which has been going on for some considerable time and became a major election issue.
  • There was no balance provided between opposing view not- withstanding the fact that the PM did not participate. In fact, Helen Clark had in many instances recently given reasons for government Defence policy that could have been replayed.
  • The programme was enormously biased as a significantly disproportionate number of interviewees held similar views. Only three political parties in government, I recall, were interviewed, one very briefly.
  • Except for former PM, Jenny Shipley, there were no women interviewed-Why? The consequences of war brought the greatest distress to women who suffered through the loss of a husband loved ones, children or relatives.
  • A number of academics were interviewed-taking an anti government line. How often have the academics and foreign affairs advisers got things wrong? Perhaps it is they who have succumbed to ideology of Cold War paranoia. Whilst these men never admit their errors and vanish into oblivion, many US leaders have admitted the grave mistakes that were made. Recently, this included former US president, Gerald Ford, and hitherto former Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defence, who resigned his post over the Viet Nam war.
  • David Dickens who is the "politically" appointed director of the Centre of Peace Studies at Victoria University said during the post election massacres of East Timorese that "New Zealand has no direct interest in East Timor." [Evening Post, 8 September 1999.]
  • The credibility of Mr. Dickens is further exposed when he advocates the purchase of new strike aircraft and new frigates but did not advocate the use of Skyhawks against the brutality by Indonesia's secret services and militia in East Timor in 1999. Perhaps, David Dickens believes that only the 'labelled' enemies of the US should be killed, such as innocent civilians as in Yugoslavia in 1999 and in Iraq from 1991 to the present. By his silence also he condones the denial of medical supplies and food by US sanctions?
  • Rod Vaughan did not question why the former government did not abide by UN resolutions on Iraq? Resolution 678 of the Security Council imposing sanctions was rescinded by Resolution 687, yet, government sent our frigate there on more than one occasion to impose sanctions at the US, not the UN, request? Neither did Mr Vaughan ask why the previous government defended Indonesian occupation and hegemony over East Timor saying it was 'irreversible,'-contrary to the UN resolution?
  • NGO people were not interviewed-Why? We have a democracy and it should be the obligation of the media to search out the voice of the people. The people's tax pays for military spending! Surely, just as we would not want to have elections where academics only are consulted so as to shove their views down our throats?
  • Academics and military brass have become an elite class. They have their own private agendas as a result.
  • Rod Vaughan failed to ask several other important questions in response to arguments concerning the need for a "Balanced forces" to keep the stability in the region and that NZ could have been at war with Indonesia over East Timor. Admiral Larsen Commander of CINCPAC who was here a few years ago - when questioned who is the enemy, his answer was 'instability'. The nation, which has done the most to create instability in the region, is the US.
  • For example, the US supplied Indonesia with all types of logistical support in 1975 to invade East Timor on the pretext that East Timor would go communist. The Indonesian military were kept in power from 1965 to 1999 (35 years) because the UK and US supplied them with arms, trained their army and Special Forces, who conducted hundreds of thousands of brutal killings of Indonesians, East Timorese and Papua New Guineans. Evidence showed that the US helped provoke the start of the Korean War and it continues the military tension on the Korean peninsula by deploying 1000 nuclear warheads in contravention of the NPT. The US invaded Viet Nam and fought a war that cost 4 million Vietnamese lives. The US occupation of Japan after WW2 was used to turn it into a military base in violation its Constitution, so the US could threaten China.
  • Large-scale wars fought in our region were the result of political ideology were Zealand soldiers were considered mercenaries. Should the US and the UK desist from escalating an arms race in the region the kind of conflicts we can expect are of low level intensity level that require peacekeeping operations.
  • It follows the arms trade with our neighbours is the root cause of instability. Mr Vaughan did not address this question and whether New Zealand should be making diplomatic efforts in our region to curtail the arms race. This would require tough talking with our 'allies' who are parroting 'instability' in the region?

Television New Zealand has done the public a great disservice in presenting this program for the reasons stated, more so, as New Zealand is sovereign and nuclear free country. While in the past we have often served as mercenaries of big powers, New Zealanders rather see themselves today as peacemakers, not warmongers.

Yours sincerely,


John Urlich

cc Prime Minister

cc Hon Marian Hobbs Mr. Rick Ellis cc leaders of other Parties & MPs

Military Alliances and Spending (Aotearoa / NZ)

Stop Killing the People of Iraq


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