Bill, Leigh And Linda
- Murray Horton
Sadly, the time has come to say goodbye to three people who have each made an immense contribution to CAFCA and/or Watchdog.
Bill requires no introduction - he was a founder of what was then CAFCINZ, back in the mid 1970s and he was continuously on the CAFCA Committee, including 20 years as Chairperson, right until he left Christchurch for Wellington and a job with the Council of Trade Unions in 2009. You can read his farewell speech, "Forward & Leftward", to the 2009 CAFCA Annual General Meeting in Watchdog 122, December 2009.
For several years after that he continued as a "distance" member of the Committee - we've had several of those - until he finally retired from the Committee. For the best part of 20 years, he wrote up - for Watchdog and the CAFCA Website - the monthly Decisions of the Overseas Investment Commission and its successor the Overseas Investment Office. He finally retired from doing that also and handed it on. In 2017 he was elected CAFCA's first Life Member (he expressed disappointment that he didn't get a badge or a discount card. Not even a funny hat).
But he still kept doing one regular and very important job for CAFCA - decades ago he created, and every year updated, our Key Facts, which exist both on our Website and in hard copy. They are a vital CAFCA resource and one which has led to regular articles in the mainstream media. Bill's last annual update was at the beginning of 2020 and at the end of that most memorable of years he told us that he was finished. That cut Bill's last tie to CAFCA, other than being a member. We've said it before, so it won't hurt to say it again - heartfelt thanks, Bill.
Nobody else had ever done the Key Facts, they were very much Bill's baby. We put out an appeal in 2021 and very quickly got a taker - Ed Miller, researcher with First Union, which is a long-standing union supporter of CAFCA. Ed soon discovered just what a huge job it is and how much effort that Bill had put in year after year. Ed has now done his first Key Facts update and they are right up to Bill's exacting standards of research and analysis. Welcome aboard, Ed.
Leigh was Watchdog Layout Editor since the late 1990s, which is quite extraordinary when you consider that she did that on top of a fulltime job throughout all of those two decades (she also did other regular layout work for CAFCA, such as the hard copy version of the Key Facts). Three times a year Leigh and I had an intense burst of activity working together putting together the latest Watchdog. She did the layout in a variety of settings and through the most trying of circumstances, such as the 2010/11 Christchurch earthquakes and the 2020 lockdown.
Sometimes we would work together in the same physical space e.g., sitting at each end of our dining table while doing corrections. But in recent years it has all been done remotely, with drafts, corrections and final versions all done electronically (and then e-mailed to the printer and Webperson). After doing the December 2020 issue, Leigh gave us a year's notice.
That turned out to be her final issue - in 2021 we put out an appeal (as we had done to find a new Key Facts writer) and in very short order, found a new Layout Editor. She is Marney Brosnan and this is actually her second issue as Layout Editor (her first one was 156, April 2021). Watchdog is in good hands with Marney and we welcome her aboard.
Leigh's departure really is the end of an era for me and her. I've known her for the best part of 30 years, going back to the days of the former Christchurch Corso. Throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s we were fellow Committee members of GATT* Watchdog, which was a close partner of CAFCA in many projects, not least of which was the annual Roger Award for the Worst Transnational Corporation Operating in Aotearoa/New Zealand.
Leigh was heavily involved with that from the outset and continued to be long after GATT Watchdog had quietly died. She was with the Roger Award right up until it was wrapped up in 2017. In 2021 Leigh was elected CAFCA's second Life Member (much to her amusement). * GATT = the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, now the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
She and I had one other long-term working relationship - for 20 plus years we were fellow Committee members of the Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa (PSNA), which was wrapped up in 2021 and handed over to a successor organisation. There's a whole other story to be told about PSNA and I'll do that in my 2021 Organiser's Report. Heartfelt thanks to Leigh for so many things.
Linda wrote up the monthly Decisions of the Overseas Investment Office (OIO), for both Watchdog and the CAFCA Website. When she took it on, she told us it would be for five years and that time was up in 2021. This is her final appearance in Watchdog, sadly. In the 30 plus years that we've been writing up those Decisions, there has only ever been three writers - Bill Rosenberg, James Ayers and Linda Hill. All set a very high standard of research, analysis and workmanship.
Linda was meticulous, a very good writer and, as the person who does the line-by-line proofreading and editing, I always enjoyed the jokes she buried in her otherwise very serious text. Some readers find it depressing; I (and plenty of others) find it informative. Linda also wrote several other Watchdog articles on aspects of foreign control e.g., "Private Equity Funds: The Swirling Billions Of The 1% Reach NZ", in Watchdog 154, August 2020. Heartfelt thanks to Linda.
There is no happy ending to the OIO story. Despite putting out an appeal (the same process by which we'd found Linda five years earlier) and doing so several times, we haven't found anyone to replace her. It's a very specialist job and it involves a lot of work - James Ayers told his colleagues on the CAFCA Committee that when he did it, researching and writing up each batch of four months of Decisions took him the equivalent of one 40-hour week.
We'll keep trying to find a successor but this may very well be the last Watchdog to include the regular feature of OIC/OIO Decisions. If so, it will bring to an end a highly valued feature that dates back more than 30 years. It has been a major CAFCA resource throughout that time, and one well used by the media, our members and the public.
We've lost three key people in the space of a few months (and been able to replace two of them thus far). We honour their work, and assure them, and you, that CAFCA will keep going. Thank you, Bill, Leigh and Linda. You have, individually and collectively, made an invaluable contribution. Kia kaha!