The University of wowsers


What on earth has happened to Dunedin?

I’ve always thought of it as a city of hard-working, practical, no- nonsense people, reflecting its Scottish Presbyterian heritage.

It was the home of Sir James Fletcher, founder of a construction empire, Henry Ely Shacklock, who made the country’s first electric ranges, and Bendix Hallenstein, whose name lives on in the menswear chain he established.

I wonder what such men would make of Dunedin today. Once a southern bastion of industry and commerce, it’s now chiefly known for the torrent of shrill, moralistic scaremongering emanating from .

It seems hardly a week passes without someone from Otago University, or one of its satellites in Christchurch and Wellington, warning us that our drinking and eating habits are leading us to moral and physical ruin.

You name it, they want it banned!

The Otago researchers’ findings always paint the blackest picture imaginable. And the message is invariably the same: our consumption habits are out of control and the government must act.

Underlying that is another message again: we are all at the mercy of greedy purveyors of booze and high-risk foods. Their wickedness must be curbed by advertising bans and punitive taxes. Hostility to capitalism is never far from the surface.

du Fresne hits the mark. Often these taxpayer funded lobby groups has spokespersons who have an unrelenting hatred of big business.

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