Historical Watchdogs Now Online

- by Murray Horton

Heartfelt thanks are owed to CAFCA committee member Lynda Boyd, who has laboured long and hard to upload a complete set of historical issues of Foreign Control Watchdog, covering the years 1974-99 inclusive (Watchdog went online that year and issues from 1999 onwards can be read at www.converge.org.nz/watchdog). To access these oldies but goodies, go to: http://www.historicalwatchdog.blogspot.com/ The introduction includes instructions on how to use the site. One thing to bear in mind is that each old issue is a big document (even though we had the scans reduced in size), so be patient when waiting for the individual issues to download. One bonus is that, unlike the issues online at the actual Watchdog site, these old ones come complete with illustrations – such as there were in those days. Readability quality varies, affected both by the scans having to be reduced to make the individual issues a manageable size, and their sheer age (the very first ones are classic old gestetnered newsletters).

The site includes “Power Junky”, CAFCA’s famous historic Comalco comic (1977; updated 1982; text by Pete Lusk, drawing by Ron Currie). Obviously some of the facts and details have changed in the ensuing 30+ years but, sadly the great bulk of it is just as relevant today, because NZ is still saddled with Rio Tinto Aluminium NZ’s Bluff smelter. It remains the single biggest user of electricity in the country and the beneficiary of a top secret mates’ rates power price. Indeed Rio Tinto Aluminium NZ, as Comalco is now called, was a finalist (again) in the 2009 Roger Award for the Worst Transnational Corporation Operating In Aotearoa/NZ. It didn’t win, and it hasn’t yet (although it was the runner up, for the second year in a row). Always a bridesmaid, but never a bride. The 40 page classic comic can be read at: http://historicalwatchdog.blogspot.com/2009/01/comalco-comic.html (in case you’re wondering, there are no spare hard copies left, and we have no plans to reprint or update it. Sorry).

There is also another historic CAFCA publication – a 1975 booklet on the proposed Mount Davy coal scheme on the West Coast (still very relevant today). The oldest Watchdog online is issue 2 (issue 1 seems to be lost in the mists of time. Perhaps we should ask the Security Intelligence Service if they can give us a copy from their archive). The site also includes the various early and skimpy CAFCINZ newsletters, etc, which preceded Watchdog. All up, 103 separate publications are now online at the site. I know that people will find it both fascinating and currently useful. For example, in my own case, I have used or cited material from 1985, 1990, 1996 and 1998 issues in articles or obituaries I have written for issues in both 2009 and 2010. And, apart from anything else, they’re a bloody good read. Watchdog is like a fine wine – it improves with age.

It takes a lot of work to compile and write the material presented on these pages - if you value the information, please send a donation to the address below to help us continue the work.

Foreign Control Watchdog, P O Box 2258, Christchurch, New Zealand/Aotearoa. May 2010.

Email cafca@chch.planet.org.nz

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