My Fifth, Where Are You Now, Campus Radical? profile is of TVNZ’s newly appointed publicity manager, Joss Debreceny. From a “Public Relations” family (his father worked for the Labour Party in the ’70s), Joss Debreceny is well on his way up the corporate ladder.
Immediately before joining TVNZ, Debreceny worked for a well known PR firm who described him thus “Joss has nearly 10 years’ experience in communications and public relations. He has worked at a strategic and tactical level with a number of major clients and has strong brand, internal communications and issues management experience. Existing and previous clients include Borland, InFocus, Vodafone, Polycom, ANZ Bank, Frucor and Goodman Fielder…Joss has worked for the Ministry for the Environment, the ANZ Bank and national non-government organisations. Joss holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Communications, and a Bachelor and Masters of Arts. He is an accredited member of the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand.”
The NGOs bit is telling. Joss Debreceny’s background is a teensy bit socialist and has intersected the path of Sue Bradford an co. more than once.
A Selwyn College old boy, Debreceny was educated at the University of Otago, from 1988 to 1995.
In September 1991, Debreceny was listed in the Communist Party’s, “Peoples Voice” as a contact for the Dunedin Day of Action Committee, part of nationwide anti-National Government campaign.
The same year he was involved in a protest with John Moore and Felix Geiringer, against National Party Cabinet Minister, Bill Birch’s visit to the Otago Campus. “Human Hedgehog” Geiringer, threw himself under Birch’s car and was lucky to escape serious injury. All three students had links to Otago University’s radical, “Progressive Left” Club.
Incidentally, Geiringer is the son of the late arch radical, doctor Erich Geiringer and Dr Carol Shand. That makes him the grandson of the late Tom Shand, a former National Cabinet Minister, who allegedly joined the Communist Party in his youth.
In July 1992, Debreceny travelled to Melbourne with Matt McCarten. The pair represented Jim Anderton’s New Labour Party at the conference of the Marxist youth group, “Resistance”. Debreceny spoke about the student left in NZ.
Greetings were sent to the conference from the African National Congress, the Communist Party of Cuba and the Indonesian Youth Front. Resistance was and is, the youth wing of the Democratic Socialist Party/Perspective, which has long standing ties to NZ Alliance Party and Green Party leaders.
In Easter 1993, radicals, many with links to the old Workers Communist League, held a “Peace, Power and Politics” conference in Wellington.
Arising from the conference was the “Aotearoa Youth Network”. Consisting mainly of students, the main component of AYN were neo Maoist members of the Auckland University Radical Society. Debreceny became Dunedin contact for the network and was the first editor of their national newsletter.
Debreceny was Dunedin contact in AYN newsletter number 4 for a nationwide anti National government publicity campaign.
The same year, Debreceny joined the National Organising Group for the “Peoples Assembly/Building Our own Futures” project. Other “NOG” members included former Workers Communist League members, Sue Bradford and Quentin Jukes as well as AYN and Auckland Uni Radical Society leader, Alistair Shaw.
The BOOF project was part of a pan Asian movement of leftist NGOs, the People’s Plan for the 21st Century(PP21).
In March 1994, Debreceny was arrested, with eleven others (including Sue Bradford and Quentin Jukes) for trespass, during a protest at the Reserve Bank in Wellington.
In late ’95 Debreceny quit as editor of the AYN Mag, to take up a position as campaigns co-ordinator for the NZ University Students Association in Wellington.
In 1996 Debreceny took part in the Great Student Bus Trip to Wellington, a nationwide campaign against student fees.
In 1997, he addressed the “Activism in Aoteoroa Workshops” on…..”activism”.
In 1998 Debreceny was co-ordinator of the Wellington Peoples Resource Centre. Founded in 1992, the centre was a hotbed of radicalism. Its first co-ordinator was former long time Workers Communist League member, Dale Little.
In the early ’00s, Debreceny, was a contact for the Aotearoa Non Governmental Organisations Association, an umbrella group of mainly leftist NGOs. Even Michael Cullen described one of their reports as “Alliance Party propaganda“.
Building Our Own Futures and former Workers Communist League activist, Robert Reid, chaired ANGOA in 1995 and Sue Bradford has been a long time member of its national co-ordinating committee.
By 2002 Debreceny was Communications advisor for the Ministry of the Environment. He was on the way up.
Now firmly in position in TVNZ, one wonders if he still spares a thought for his old comrades?