Saturday, March 24, 2012
Friday, March 23, 2012
Call to arms . . . against who?
THE DOMINION, 12 JUN 1997,
ARMED insurrection by some Taranaki farmers was likely if Parliament did not change its plans to overhaul Maori leasehold land law, MPs were told yesterday.
Morris Hey, chairman of the West Coast Lessees Association, which represents leasehold farmers in Taranaki, delivered the warning to the justice and law reform select committee.
The committee is considering a bill that aims to allow Maoris to regain control over land that was tied up in perpetual leases, against their wishes, last century. The bill proposes phasing out the leases, and in the meantime making the properties subject to market rents.
Mr Hey said the bill would create a new grievance by making farmers bear much of the cost of settling an old one.
Since he became chairman in 1990 he had exerted a moderating influence on farmers angry at the prospect of losing their farms. If the bill was passed, he would resign and would no longer be able to keep extremists in check.
"There is a militant section of our membership who are prepared to take up arms to protect their property rights," he said.
The warning did not appear to be taken too seriously by committee members. Labour list MP Dover Samuels said he was intrigued that some farmers might want to "reignite the Taranaki wars".
Mr Samuels: Who are they going to battle against?
Mr Hey: I don't know.
Mr Samuels: If people are going to take up arms, I'd like to know who they see as the enemy.
Mr Hey: I don't know, I hope this won't happen.
Mr Samuels: People who want to take up arms against an invisible enemy would probably do better to get some counselling.
Association deputy chairman Lyn Williams said leasehold titles were as much a property right as a freehold title, and if Parliament was going to interfere, the very least it should do was offer full compensation. The present proposals would cost the 271 farmers affected an average of $210,000.
Mr Williams said the best solution for farmers and the Maori landowners would be to leave the law much as it was. If the Maoris were compensated they would be well placed to buy out leases as they came on the market. An average of 19 leases were sold each year.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Mr Speaker – four years ago armed offenders stormed the homes of innocent families, broke down doors, smashed windows, overturned furniture, forced people to their knees in front of their children, refused them access to water and even the right to go to the toilet, degraded and dehumanised civilians, set up armed barricades and stopped traffic, boarded köhanga reo busses and scared the crap out of little kids … and gave Tuhoe another reason to hate the forces of the state.
That exercise in police terror carried out on October 15 2007, led to people all over the country being charged with terrorism, amidst heightened global concerns of terrorist activity, and created within the wider society of New Zealand an instant and unreal fear of the kinds of images we had been barraged with on mainstream TV.
And although those charges were very quickly thrown out, the state simply had to follow through with new charges because they’d been already running their campaign for more than 12 months, they’d gone in fully armed and under the full glare of the media, they’d made a public commitment to the most serious charges in the history of our nation, and they simply had to justify their involvement in what turned out to be an extremely violent operation.
That operation only came to an end yesterday with a decision which should have been about the triumph of justice, but wasn’t. All it was, was a sad and sorry end to a tragic raid into the heartland of the Tuhoe.
For after all the drama, the high expectation and the grainy videos, yesterday the jury could only return verdicts on firearms charges. That’s all we got after a four year campaign that cost the taxpayer millions and millions of dollars, divided the nation, and gave people genuine reason to fear their own police force.
Today, the day after the case ended, justice is still denied to the people of Tuhoe.
Today we remember those who died with a cloud of doubt hanging over them and their families, and who will never now, get the chance to refute the allegations made against them.
Today we recall the statement made by one of the defence lawyers who said that the crown case could best be summed up with the simple words “Maori plus guns equal crime”
Today we can still feel the deep-seated racism that not only exists, but flourishes within critical agencies of the state.
Today Mr Speaker, the hearings may finally be over for the Urewera 4, but not for the people of Tuhoe.
There has been no apology, there has been no compensation, there has been no public acknowledgement of the need for change in policeoperations or for new engagement policies as a result of the litany of errors we now know as Operation 8; and we know that because just last month the armed offenders went back into Tuhoe, smashed up somebody’s house, terrorised the inhabitants … and got nobody.
Today I am proud to say that MANA will stand alongside those in our society who reject tyranny, and stand against those who would use the Terrorism Suppression Act and the Search and Surveillance Bill to crush independent thinking, to force us to fear what we say and to hide what we do, and to stop us from choosing freedom over oppression.
Today Mr Speaker I salute Tame Iti and his comrades for their dignity, for their courage, for their passion and for their love for this land.
And tomorrow, I pray for an end to the kind of blind police operation developed in a silo of ignorance and fear that we saw in Tuhoe, and look forward to a time when local issues can be handled with a modicum of intelligence, a minimum of fuss, a measure of goodwill, and the realisation that brutalising communities in the defence of justice leads not justice, but the growth of injustice, disharmony, and righteous anger.
Tena koutou katoa
Socialist Aotearoa and it's sister organisation in Britain, Socialist Worker, has supported the revolution in Syria—but not everyone on the left agrees. Here, Sami Ramadani argues that those leading the resistance are acting in the interests of the West.
Simon Assaf, who writes regularly for Socialist Worker on the Middle East, responds by explaining why we should back the revolt and oppose Western intervention
Sami Ramadani: 'Pro-Nato factions have captured the initiative'
The situation in Syria is dividing left opinion.
But recent reports by Simon Assaf in Socialist Worker are seriously misreading developments in Syria and the Middle East following the magnificent people’s uprisings.
Wishful thinking has replaced materialist analysis.
We have to recognise that the imperialist-backed Arab counter-revolution has, in the short term, regained the initiative and is on the offensive.
A ruthless, corrupt ruling class runs Syria. Left activists have suffered severe repression since Hafiz Assad’s 1970 coup.
It was after that coup that then US secretary of state Henry Kissinger described Syria as “a factor for stability”.
Hafiz Assad’s regime, funded by Saudi medieval dictators, played a leading role in weakening Palestinian resistance throughout the 1970s, 80s and 90s.
Syrian troops, in alliance with Lebanon’s pro-Israeli forces, were decisive in defeating Palestinian and Lebanese progressive forces.
The regime, in return for US promises, also backed the 1991 US-led war over Kuwait.
No one talked then of a regime “based on the Alawite sect” funded by “Saudi Wahabi-Sunnis” as the media do today.
Syria is partly occupied by Israel.
The Syrian people would judge any regime as “illegitimate” if it did not liberate Syria from occupation. US promises of rewarding Syria by returning the occupied lands came to nothing.
At the same time, a number of factors changed Syria’s role in the region.
It changed from being an active ally of imperialism, and effectively Israel, to assisting Lebanese and Palestinian resistance while opposing the US-led occupation of Iraq.
The factors include the rise of Iran as a formidable anti-US and anti-Israeli power, and the defeat of US forces in Iraq.
The unstoppable rise of Lebanese resistance, which liberated southern Lebanon and defeated Israeli-Saudi backed forces, was also important.
That resistance was led by Hizbollah and backed by Syria.
Today’s popular protests in Syria began spontaneously and were mostly led by progressives demanding radical
But ruthless mass murder by regime forces plus terrorist acts by sectarian and al-Qaeda-type gunmen have changed the scene.
The Qatari-owned, poisonously sectarian Al Jazeera and Western media distort events in Syria.
Close examination shows that, as in Libya, pro-Nato factions have captured the initiative.
These factions are dominant in the Syrian National Council and the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
The FSA was founded in and is logistically backed by Turkey, a Nato member.
Lebanon’s US-French-Israeli allies, pro-US Iraqi forces, Jordan, Libyan terrorists and Nato special forces are all assisting counter-revolution in Syria.
But Socialist Worker astoundingly implies that FSA Nato-backed gunmen are revolutionaries.
Shaken by the uprisings, Qatari and Saudi sheiks provide funding for sectarian Muslim Brotherhood leaders and Salafi clerics. They target minorities in an attempt to fragment Syria and plunge the country into sectarian civil war.
However, if Syria joins imperialist-Israeli plans to attack Iran, destroy the Lebanese and Palestinian resistance, and help the US in Iraq, the Syrian regime would be given a clean bill of health, as a state enacting reform and having elections in May.
In Iraq imperialists destroyed a country, killed a million people and created four million Iraqi refugees, one million of whom fled to Syria.
These are pointers of what would happen to Syria if the imperialist-Saudi-Qatari plans for Syria succeed.
Most of the left and anti-imperialist democrats in Syria are keenly aware of this.
Unfortunately Socialist Worker isn’t.
Simon Assaf: Revolutions show that ordinary people have the power to change the world
The Syrian revolution has thrown up much soul-searching over its direction, strategy and tactics.
These debates have at their heart a deep sympathy with the people and their struggle against a dictatorship.
But there are also discussions with those who support the regime and see any challenge to it as the work of “dark forces”.
Regime supporters portray the Syrian people as pawns of a greater game.
Syrians are seen as puppets of a conspiracy that at different times has revolved around Al-Qaeda, Sunni gangs, “Salafi clerics”, Israeli agents, or American stooges doing the bidding of Gulf sheikhs.
In this scenario people are passive and gullible with no interests of their own.
This ignores the fact that the slogan has from the outset been “the Syrian people are one”.
The Syrian revolt is not an uprising against Alawis or Christians, many of whom support the revolution. It is a revolt against a dictatorship.
Supporters of Syria’s regime accuse army defectors of being agents of the West.
They don’t see defectors as soldiers horrified by what they were ordered to do and who surrendered to the neighbourhoods they were sent to repress.
The truth is simpler. The Arab regimes, whatever colour, never represented the interests of the people.
They are failed regimes born out of an era of defeat.
Up until recently many Syrians held their tongue because they understood the danger of the West and Israel.
As the only country supporting resistance to imperialism in the region, they put their interests last.
The Arab revolutions removed this burden from their shoulders.
The people demanded that the regime make good on its promise of reform. Of course it didn’t, because it couldn’t.
The fact of revolution is testimony to the failure of reform.
Regime supporters point to the charlatans of the Western-backed Syrian National Council.
But they ignore those making the revolution—the local committees, the youth, workers, peasants, the left, neighborhood campaigners and Facebook activists—who reject outside intervention.
They praise the role that Bashar Assad played in Lebanon’s victory over Israel in 2006.
But they don’t praise the Syrian people who opened their homes to refugees—and whose lives are now being torn apart by repression.
The revolutions have unleashed a far more potent force in Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and countless other places across the Arab world.
It is sacrifices by ordinary people that have delivered blow after blow to imperialism and its tyrants.
Their movements are beginning to reveal their potential.
These popular revolutions support the Syrian uprising without condition.
There is no greater symbol of this than the Syrian flag of revolution being carried into Tahrir Square on the anniversary of Egypt’s uprising.
Now we are told to abandon a revolution by those who never supported it. Why? Because of the threat of war on Iran.
This is not a new threat. Neither is the finger-wagging at those who have dared to raise the question of repression, prisoners or corruption over the years.
Luckily the new revolutionary generation long ago rejected this rhetoric.
The Syrian revolution has its own history, its challenges and its burdens. Those who support it will fight for its independence and against any Western interference.
Above all we will defend it against those who slander a long-oppressed people desperate to take control over their destiny.
Monday, March 19, 2012
First-time mum Jenna Holland, 21, said it was upsetting the maternity centre was being closed and it would make it harder for new mums in the area. It was at least an hour from Tuatapere to Invercargill and it was not comfortable travelling during labour, she said.The signficiance of the community protest is best shown by comments from one local, "This is not just a protest. It is an event in the history of Tuatapere," Stan Hammond said. "I can't remember something like this in 60 years where so many people have turned out to have their say on something. It's very, very rare. Rural people just don't protest."
Resistance to the corporatisation agenda and proposals for alternative solutions is coming first from the health professionals and unions who work in the public sector. Tim Parke, clinical director at Auckland City hospital, wrote in a recent column, "The solution to rising healthcare costs in tough economic times is not, as some vested interests would increasingly have you believe, to maximise the number of people using the private health sector. As a public hospital emergency specialist, I fear that expanding private healthcare may instead fragment and irretrievably damage an effective public system, resulting in the country as a whole paying more for potentially worse healthcare."
NZNO chief executive Geoff Annals said the Hawke's Bay and Bay of Plenty job losses made a mockery of Health Minister Tony Ryall's mantra that no frontline jobs would go.
"We are hearing of nursing job cuts around the country, in both hospitals and the community. Frontline nursing jobs are going, as the government puts the pressure on DHBs to meet budget targets. What this will mean is greater health costs down the track, as people did not get the care they needed, when they needed it," Mr Annals said.
Striking backOccupy the hospitals - Reefton 1988
Cuts to services, corporatisation and underfunding in the health sector are all deeply unpopular and the Government will have an uphill battle selling the neo-liberal health agenda to provincial communities, patients and the health sector unions.
But the private health industry wants to run down the public system to increase its slice of the private health insurance market and the National Party is enthusiastically wielding the austerity knife in hospital wards around the country in order to achieve this. The Government will attempt to pick off health unions and rural communities one by one. Small communities, patients and health workers shouldn't be left to fight the Government on their own. This is a broader struggle about keeping money out of medicine that must involve all of the working class whether around hospitals, Pharmac or ACC.
In the 1980s and 1990s Labour and National closed scores of hospitals around the country as the private health industry boomed. The closures and cutbacks sparked the largest protests the country has ever seen with the entire populations of small towns like Kaitaia and Gore turning out in defence of their hospitals, often succesfully.
If there's any proof that direct action and community mobilisation are the best weapons against health sector cuts it is Reefton hospital on the South Island's West Coast. In the late 1980s the hospital was slated for closure. The community marched 3000 strong in the rain behind contingents of the unionised miners and forestry workers. Their message to the Government was - if you try and move out the patients, a siren will go off in the town, and within minutes thousands of people will be at the hospital to physically prevent the move. Thus the patients were never moved and Reefton hospital remains open, still healing the people who rallied to save it.
Sunday, March 18, 2012
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
These tactics are needed now on the Ports of Auckland, argues Socialist Aotearoa's Joe Carolan.
The ideological attack of the Elite 1% in New Zealand is stepping up to a new level.
The Wharfies picket line of Monday morning is now branded a sinister, violent action of gangsters and thugs, by a largely uncritical mass media. Willie Jackson's righteous call for wharfies to adopt the winning tactics of militant pickets that actually block and stop production, now sees a campaign by the right wing to vilify him and take him off the air. And on Auckland Uni campus, the loyal labour lackeys of the Princes Street branch choose to defend the scabherder Len Brown, by trespassing the activist who threw a lamington at him. What's richer than the lamington's cream is that many of these hypocrites applauded the same activist when he crowned ACT's John Bascowen with the very same cake 4 years ago.
Unionists are thugs. Left wing commentators should be sacked. Socialists are violent and must be trespassed from campus. This is the climate we are now in.
But at times of heightened class antagonism, there is also great hope.
The working class has started to see that its struggles need to unite. From the state tenants fighting eviction in Glen Innes, to the Firefighters and locked out Meatworkers who rallied to the Wharfies cause on the 5,000 strong march on Saturday, there is a growing anger and mood to have a go at the 1%.
The lockout of the Meatworkers by Talleys at the AFFCO plants is an all out attack. The tragedy is that that the refusal of the Meatworkers Union bureaucracy to fight down at the Marton plant effectively, by either blocking the entrance or occupying the plant, and denying the means of production to the scabs and the bosses, not only resulted in defeat and pay cuts, but emboldened sharks such as Talleys to go on the attack in five other meat plants.
Socialists argued for blockades and occupations then. Union bureaucrats and the soft left dismissed us as dangerous radicals. But now we see the fruit of their betrayals on the faces of the workers locked out at Fielding and at Horotiu, where my brother in law worked for over 25 years.
Do we really want to see the Wharfies defeated? Forced to take massive pay cuts, their union broken, their jobs casualised? If we don't, then we need to look to the tactics that can win this struggle- and that's the tactic of the mass blockade and the occupation.
50 or 100 wharfies trying to stop production at 5am in the morning can be easily vilified by the right wing media, and their picket easily smashed by the police. But if the 5,000 who marched last Saturday can be joined by many more at the next rally, and these people commit to standing in front of the gates and not letting any scabs through, then there is very little the authorities can do about it without declaring open war on the working class.
Arthur Scargill won a famous victory for the British Miners in the early 1970s using the same tactics at Saltley Gates, near Birmingham. The flying pickets of the Miners were joined by Railway workers, Engineers, transport workers etc. The police had no option but to retreat from the sight of thousands of determined pickets, who shut the means of production DOWN.
And that is the ultimate power that workers have-
stopping the flow of profits.
Socialist Aotearoa salutes the Wharfies on their picket lines, salutes the 5,000 who mobilised to support them last Saturday, salutes staunch left wing commentators like Hone Harawira, Matt McCarten and Willy Jackson who continue to give sound advice as to how this battle needs to involve us all.
Our members in the union movement will be openly arguing for an all out, all union, mass blockade of the Port, where wharfies can be joined by firefighters, meatworkers, GI tenants, students, fast food workers, teachers and beneficiaries. Now is the Winter of Our Discontent.
See Joe's earlier article, On the Waterfront, for the politics behind the Ports.
Monday, March 12, 2012
Saturday, March 10, 2012
One of the ships, the Maersk Brani, arrived in Sydney at 6.30am on Saturday March 10, direct from Auckland. Cranes at the DP World container terminal were silent all day and into the night as workers stayed outside the gate while Unions NSW, teachers, firefighters and students organised a community picket to protest the actions of the Port of Auckland and Maersk. The second ship, the Maersk Aberdeen, is due to arrive at Sydney’s Patricks terminal at 8pm Monday 12 March. It has already been met with pickets and protests in Wellington and Tauranga.
Workers’ rights are under attack all over the world. The brave stand taken by Sydney’s wharfies and community picketers must be supported by the whole trade union movement.
It is likely that the employers will try to attack the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) with the full force of Australia’s industrial relations laws that still make it a crime for workers and community members to support each other in struggle. The union could face fines of millions of dollars. Three hundred families in Auckland face being left without an income—and New Zealand wharfies face losing their union. This is a battle we have to win.
James, Solidarity Australia
Thursday, March 08, 2012
Fifty protestors holding signs waited while wharfies spoke to Brown. However, the audacity Brown showed in pretending to care about the workers and their families during this sit-down was unconscionable. With yells of “whose side are you on” ringing out, protestors unleashed their weapons of pink lamingtons to deliver some of the ridicule and shame Brown deserves.
In Greece, the 2011 protests used “yoghurting” tactics, throwing yoghurt at politicians. The significance of using Greek yoghurt, which has become a staple to many across the world, was not lost, and the practice has gained traction and legitimacy. The lamington has similarly powerful associations for New Zealanders.
The act of throwing food can have serious consequences. Jeremy Olson was charged with fourth-degree assault and disorderly conduct after he threw tomatoes at Sarah Pallin in late 2009. Protestor Maria Jackson expressed her support for those throwing food: “We know people have been arrested for actions like these, so we didn’t take this lightly. The firing of 292 workers yesterday morning has a gravity we couldn’t come close to, but throwing lamingtons is at least better than just a press release.”
The protestors, students and workers united against the disgusting wielding of corporate power against Auckland workers and families, shamed Brown and he left slumped, looking demoralized. If Brown is still confused as to what Aucklanders think about his weak office, perhaps the pink icing on his shirt and head will help him figure it out. If Brown is to come back to campus, as his office claims, he should sort out his priorities and support Aucklanders, not Tory Glibson’s pockets.
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
Sunday, March 04, 2012
Saturday, March 03, 2012
Some people give up the fight. Suicide rates are up, especially amongst children. 37,000 left for Australia last year. Apparently you are more likely to be happy if you support the National Party. Exodus. For those who have not lived through a National Government before, for those who can't remember the last recession, it can seem like Aotearoa is becoming a society without Summer. Despair and sectarianism, two sides of the same apathetic coin can set in.
Yet the National Government's austerity programme and the bosses offensive relies on the assumption that the working class will not resist, that unionists will not stand together and that they can push through their agenda before the next election.
Mass revolt can stop the Nats. Can we unite even a few thousand of the 70,000 state house tenants into a tenants association pledged to resist evictions and the sell off of homes? Maybe. Can secondary school walkouts stop charter schools? Possibly. Can strikes beat off the bosses' offensive? Yes.
That's why we always build Mana in the struggle, a united front of Maori and Pakeha leftists with a Parliamentary presence and branches around the motu. Yet in the heart of the struggle, behind the barricades of an occupied university, on a picket line during a wintery night, in a reclaimed state house are people who in changing the world, change themselves. They get a taste of the power of a mass movement to change the world. They see the need for an economic system based on people not profit. These people will join a revolutionary organisation like Socialist Aotearoa and help build in other places, at other times the mass movements that can beat the Nats. That's what Socialist Aotearoa aims to be, an organisation that keeps doing things, with people that keep learning lessons and doing it better next time.
People make their own history but not under circumstances of their own choosing. It's not called struggle because it's easy. Yet many hands make light work. We don't need activist superheros who burn out and drift away. We need organisers of revolt who inspire resistance. One person can build a barricade but when the cops come you'll need a hundred to defend it. Everyone has a contribution to make however large or small. Some revolutionaries can manage lives of hyperactivism. Others have to take a steadier pace, balancing childcare, study and work responsibilities. Everyone needs the occasional rest and relaxation, away from the front line of the the struggle. As Lana Del Rey sings "The road is long, we carry on. Try to have fun in the meantime". A company that spends too much time in the trenches will inevitably suffer desertions and higher rates of shell shock. An army that never fights, like some political parties, soon forgets how to. A party that doesn't rally their members to fight the Nats on the streets and in the workplaces is an opposition in words only.
Nothing is more absurd than trying to stop asset sales or evictions through signing petitions or lobbying Crown Ministers. You can't win a strike through media coverage alone. Ending poverty means ending unemployment. We won't stop the Nats unless we can tip the balance of class forces back the way of working people. That means building Aotearoa is Not for Sale on the streets, in the workplaces and the campuses to unite the resistance. On Saturday 28 April we need to turn out thousands of people against this Government. From there we need to know who will commit to picketing charter schools, occupying power stations and barricading state houses. It is time to mobilise, to organise and to agitate.
What parliament does, the streets can undo.
Friday, March 02, 2012
“Make the vessel leave the Port of Wellington, send it back to Auckland, get it loaded by union labour and then it can go on its merry way,” says Maritime Union General Secretary, Joe Fleetwood.
International Transport Federation affiliated unions held a protest at the Ports of Tauranga at 2am on Saturday 3 March 2012 in torrential rain. A Maersk ship loaded by non-union workers in Auckland, where the Maritime Union is striking, was seeking to unload at the Port of Tauranga. Seamen, wharfies and retirees joined the protest from the ITF affiliated unions: Maritime Union of New Zealand, the Rail and Maritime Union and First Union (formally the Northern Drivers Union). RMTU crane drivers refused to cross the protest citing health and safety concerns.