Gathan Beaga

remember FPG?

Maybe only if you were at University on the late Eighties, and even then, maybe not…

This came up in a discussion on Twitter the other day; some of us were recalling the events of 1989 (and 1990, too?) that coincided with the introduction of student fees.

Yes, we are old. Anyway.

The subject of student ire was the then Minister of Education, one Phil Goff (back when he had a moustache) who imposed a $1250 annual fee (and doesn’t that seem ludicrously, and wonderfully, low by today’s standards?). A wave of protest was set off that made some of the lecturers and older PhD students fondly recall the Vietnam-era protests of 20 years earlier.

In Dunedin we had a crowd of 10,000 marching down George & Princes Streets to the exchange, where there was a rally (and as was inevitable at such events, the usual sprinkling of fruit-loop communist splinter group members with megaphones).

I have one remaining souvenir of that exciting period: a cassingle of what passed for a protest song. It’s Not Safe For Work, in the main because of its pretty amusing, and rather daring for the time, chorus. I’ve dug it out and ripped it to MP3 for your listening “pleasure”:

F.P.G. (White Liberal Radio Edit), by Students with a Handout

OK, so it is a rather painful, whiny, over-entitled white-boy rap copied from N.W.A.’s signature track, but it remains amusing as a period piece.

And as for Goff: well he was forgotten a year or so later once Lockwood Smith became the Education Minister for the incoming National Government target of hate for students. Smith had promised to remove the student fees, which he did, technically, taking away the flat $1250 charged by the Government… but then he switched responsibility for fee-charging to the Universities… and the rest is history.