Helen Clark has issued a press release we can all agree with saying "the Government's refusal to enter into mediation over compensation for Keith and Margaret Berryman highlights the abandonment of rural New Zealand." And so it does.
She says, "The Berrymans are victims in many ways. They are victims of bad legislation and victims of an over-zealous government department." And so they are.
"I feel really sorry for these people," says Miss Clark. "I think their lives have been ruined." And so they have.
"Labour's by-election campaign has been about putting the heart back into the country, and giving hard-working people such as Keith and Margaret Berryman a fair go," Helen Clark said.
By-election? What by-election? Yes, you guessed it, this isn't what Helen Clark said today, this was a press release issued by her five years ago at 10:30am on 27 April 1998 as part of the Taranaki-King Country by-election campaign.
It was headed "Berryman case highlights National's abandonment of rural NZ," which of course it still does. Everything she said then is right on the money.
But now, as another election campaign is now almost upon us, perhaps I could ask all of New Zealand to reflect for a moment on what Helen's subsequent abandonment of the Berrymans highlights, aside from her own abject dishonesty. Answers on a Fax please to Helen Clark: (04) 473 3579, and e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
You might point out in your correspondence that the $150,000 offered to the Berrymans by her Government in 'mediation' is a sick joke. It does not even cover their $450,000 legal bills, does not begin to compensate for the loss of their farm (which conservative estimates say might now be worth $2.5 million), and in no way compensates for the ten years of hell both Labour and National Governments have put this couple through.