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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 12. 1965.

Parliament and Mandy

Parliament and Mandy

Don Hewitson reports on the Parliamentary Petitions Committee meeting.

The MPs were clustered around the table like a bunch of "clucky" hens, casting benign looks towards a matronly woman dressed in the uniform of the Girls' Life Brigade who was seated at the end of the table.

No, this was not a scene from a Dickens novel: it was the hearing of the Parliamentary Petitions committee. The woman was the district commandant of the Waikato division of the Girls' Life Brigade, and representative of the signatories to the much-discussed Hamilton Petition which pleaded for Mandy Rice-Davies to be banished from the shores of God's Own Country.

In her verbal submissions she reasoned that Mandy's visit as an entertainer would lead to the moral degeneration of "our youth." Therefore, banning her would be for "public good."

The commandant talked about the distasteful influences Mandy's cabaret act would have on youth (Presumably she meant the members of her division of the Girls' Life Brigade, whose ages varied from 6 to 16 years. How they were going to be admitted to licensed cabarets and restaurants nobody but herself knew.)

When questioned by Mr. Harrison, MP, she admitted that the youth the petition represented had neither requested such a move nor been consulted, the reason being that "youth cannot, manage their own affairs at all."

The committee then discussed Mandy and her attempts to reform and "lead a pure life." Mr J. A. Tannahill (legal representative of the artists' agency attempting to bring Mandy to New Zealand) resolved all possible doubts by triumphantly declaring that "Mandy has recently become a Roman Catholic."

Throughout the hearing the majority of committee members, and the people giving evidence, strayed from the main point of the hearing—the fact that the Government was deciding whether or not the individual New Zealand citizen should be allowed to see Mandy.