Dame Susan Devoy: Same old cliches


"This will be a marathon not a sprint" is becoming somewhat of a cliche espoused by our politicians to describe the disaster recovery efforts of the Christchurch earthquakes and now the Rena.

I think it would equally describe the last six weeks of the Rugby World Cup, albeit in a much more positive light than other recent events.

The RWC has spared us up until now of the usual election hype but, rest assured, the gloves will be off on Monday and the focus will be on the general election just a few weeks away.

While at this stage it is looking like a one-horse race, MMP allows for some perverse outcomes and, by and large, prevents a landslide victory.<inline type="recurring-inline" id="1003" align="outside" enforce-sites="no" />

I am waiting anxiously to see Winston the Phoenix Peters rise from the ashes. His entry into Parliament enhances the chances of Labour but I predict New Zealand First will not make the 5 per cent threshold and neither will Act. But predictions are often wrong and, like it or not, MMP makes for an interesting mix.

It's important to vote, in fact I wish that it was compulsory as it is in Australia and equally important to have your say in the referendum concerning MMP.

I believe New Zealanders will vote to retain MMP but the reality is if you look at the final results I bet only National, Labour the Greens and perhaps the Maori Party will be supported by more than 5 per cent of voters means there is every reason to support the reforming of MMP.

Ironically, I read this article this week taken from an American publication called Hearsts in 1917.

"In the great Commonwealth of New Zealand, so far ahead of all the rest of the world in humanity and social progress, the wife votes absolutely as her husband does.

"The woman who votes becomes an important factor in life, for a double reason. In the first place, when a woman votes the candidate must take care that his conduct and record meet with a good woman's approval, and this makes better men of the candidates.

"In the second place, and far more important, is this reason:

when women shall vote, the political influence of the good men in the community will be greatly increased. There is no doubt whatever that women, in their voting, will be influenced by the men whom they know. But there is also no doubt that they will be influenced by the good men whom they know.

"Men can deceive each other much more easily than they can deceive women - the latter being providentially provided with the X-ray of intuitional perception.

"The blustering politician, preaching what he does not practise, may hold forth on the street corner or in a saloon, and influence the votes of others as worthless as himself. But among women, his home life will more than offset his political influence.

"The bad husband may occasionally get the vote of a deluded or frightened wife, but he will surely lose the votes of the wives and daughters next door.

"Voting by women will improve humanity, because it will compel men to seek and earn the approval of women.

"Our social system improves in proportion as the men in it are influenced by its good women.

"As for the education of women, it would seem unnecessary to urge its value upon even the stupidest of creatures.

"Yet it is a fact that the importance of thorough education of girls is still doubted - usually, of course, by men with deficient education of their own and an elaborate sense of their own importance and superiority.

"Mary Lyon, whose noble efforts established Mount Holyoke College, and spread the idea of higher education for women throughout the world, put the case of women's education in a nutshell. She said: 'I think it less essential that the farmers and mechanics should be educated than that their wives, the mothers of their children, should be.'

"The education of a girl is important chiefly because it means the educating of a future mother.

"Whose brain but the mother's inspires and directs the son in the early years, when knowledge is most easily absorbed and permanently retained?

"If you find in history a man whose success is based on intellectual equipment, you find almost invariably that his mother was exceptionally fortunate in her opportunities for education.

"Well educated women are essential to humanity.

"They insure abler men in the future and, incidentally, they make the ignorant man feel ashamed of himself in the present."

I wonder what the author would write of the great Commonwealth of New Zealand now nearly 100 years later?

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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