Nicky Hager whizzed into Otaki to talk to Otaki College students about democracy and the importance of the student vote. There was no hell fire and brimstone just a gentle discussion about how he came to write ‘Dirty Politics’ and what it means to the concept of democracy in New Zealand.
A small group of teens plus some older residents heard the story behind the media hype. Nicky said his aim in talking to kids was so they did not become disillusioned with politics.
He spoke of his own life and although he knew nothing of politics he learnt how he also could have an effect. What concerned him about Dirty Politics was the perception that it was a negative campaign aimed at turning people off politics and having a say in their own country. He urged teens to find out things, to become curious and to look for the story behind the stories. He wanted people to talk about things because anything done in secret is, by definition, anti-democratic. “If something is wrong, people need to know so write it down” he advised.
What he did was throw open a window on some secret stuff. He had observed a weird disconnect between the friendly ‘everything is ok’ stance of government and the nasty stuff behind the scenes. He observed that politicians like to win, they like to be liked and to fly high but if there is a secret weapon they can use then some will. What is important is to shed light on politics so the secret stuff can’t put people off.
He finished his talk on the importance of voting, of starting the habit when you were young. “The main thing you can do is vote” he advised. He finished on a positive note saying that “You can trust the Public. You can’t keep secrets and if people think they can get away with the nasty stuff some will.”