Wednesday, April 24, 2013

This fight isn't over

The resistance to asset sales has kept the National Government on the backfoot for a year and a half. Now it's time to turn up the heat. The only way we are going to get rid of the Nats is if we fight this government day-in, day-out until they collapse under the strain of implementing their cuts and privatisations on a rebellious population. This means that it's no good just hating the government. People need to be organised, educated and mobilised.

People also need to know that there is an alternative to National. That's why the Labour/Greens policy on power prices has spooked rich people. Suddenly David Shearer and Russel Norman look like the leaders of a government in waiting. As socialists we support the plans for a single electicity price. But we believe that a future Labour /Green government should go further and renationalise any power companies sold off. We want electricity companies that work for people and not profit. No New Zealand family should ever have their power cut off because they cannot afford to pay for power. No beneficiary or pensioner or student should have to spend sleepless nights over whether to buy groceries or pay their electricity bill. And no one should make a profit everytime we turn the kettle on. The rivers that power our dams cannot be owned so how the hell can you own the electricity.

So Socialist Aotearoa is part of the MANA Movement. Mana supports renationalisation of the assets. Indeed, the threat of renationalisation, with or without compensation, of any power companies would completely wreck the sale. For us the protests on the streets are not just a battle against the Nats but also a fight for renationalisation. If Labour and the Greens want to halt this asset sale they can. All they need to do to derail the sell off is say the magic words: 'We will buy it back." After that, it's game over.

Just because Labour and the Greens are riding high in the polls or because one power company has been floated on the sharemarket doesn't mean this fight is over. The opposite is true. 2013 is the year we stop the asset sales, teachers and communities unite to stop charter schools from being introduced and state house communities stop the evictions in Glen Innes. The year we stop the TPPA. It could also be the year that protesters make fracking our hills and drilling our seas impossible.

History is not over. The rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer and the planet being plundered and polluted into an early grave is not inevitable. Aotearoa is Not for Sale is just a taste of what left parties and trade union movement could do. For socialists we aren't just fighting asset sales, we are fighting for a better world. For a socialist Aotearoa free of exploitation, poverty, unemployment, pollution and oppression. The rule of the corporations is fragile. That's why they need to pass laws like the recent "Andarko Amendment" criminalising protest at sea or why they needed to crush the actor's union.

They fear us more than we fear them. But now that National is off balance in the polls it's time to organise even harder A few thousand people marching in the streets is still no threat to the Nats. But a few thousand people talking politics to their friends and workmates, lobbying union leaders for more militant action, putting up posters, giving out leaflets and taking part in civil disobedience can bring down this government.

Strikes and protests can beat the Nats. Their strategy is to keep the opposition divided. So the next time we march against the government we need to fill Queen Street from end to end. Hundreds of thousands of people hate this government. But they need to know that this fight isn't over. It's just getting started.

- Socialist Aotearoa

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Return to torture island

May Day 2009: Unionists and members of the Tamil community
march in Auckland for the rights of workers around the world/
The Australian government has forcibly returned 38 of the 66 Sri Lankan asylum seekers who landed on Australia's west coast this month asking for help from New Zealand.

Many of those sent back, including women and children, were not offered legal advice.

The Brisbane Times reported the reaction of Australian critics of the deportation,
Refugee lawyer David Manne, who successfully led the High Court challenge against the government's Malaysia solution, said the expulsions were "a radical retreat" from longstanding laws and practices in Australia.  
"Did Govt tell Geraldton arrivals of their statutory rights to legal advice and to apply for protection under due process?" Mr Manne asked on Twitter. "If not, why not?"  
Asylum Seeker Resources Centre chief executive Kon Karapanagiotidis wrote on Twitter that the asylum seekers never had a chance of a fair assessment. 
"In 12 years of working with asylum seekers this is the worst abuse I have seen ... deporting people with no access to legal advice/representation doesn't get any more unlawful."
This crime by the Australian Labor Government against the rights of refugees and asylum seekers comes just two months after the Guardian reported that a British organisation, Freedom from Torture, had discovered via a Freedom of Information request that fifteen Sri Lankan asylum seekers deported back to Sri Lanka from Britain were subsequently tortured, including being subject to gang rape by state forces.

Tamils with links to the Tamil Tiger, national liberation movement continue to face the threat of assassination, torture and persecution and the UN Human Rights Council last month passed a resolution calling for a probe into the situation faced by the very same people who arrive in boats in Australian waters.

Human Rights Watch in September 2012 called for the UK to end forced deportations of Sri Lankan asylum seekers citing 13 cases of alleged torture of returned asylum seekers, all supported by medical documentation.

It's an important principle and international law. No one should be returned to a country where they face the threat of violence and persecution. Australia's treatment of the asylum seekers and New Zealand's silence is a serious crime against the right of refugees. One of Socialist Aotearoa's founding principles is the welcoming for refugees and asylum seekers to Aotearoa. On May Day 2009 in Auckland the trade union movement and Sri Lankan community marched side by side in support of the rights of refugees and migrant workers.

The Australian Labor Government denies refugees legal advice and then justifies its deportations by saying they are illegal immigrants. But as Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel once said, '“You who are so-called illegal aliens must know that no human being is illegal. That is a contradiction in terms. Human beings can be beautiful or more beautiful, they can be fat or skinny, they can be right or wrong, but illegal? How can a human being be illegal?”

-Socialist Aotearoa

Friday, April 19, 2013

April 27- Time to fight Thatcher's Spawn in New Zealand

 Why I'm marching with Aotearoa is Not for Sale on the 27th of April.

Margaret Thatcher was a brutal class warrior, who wielded power ruthlessly as I grew up under her rule as a teenager in the 1980s. She tried to smash the unions, she drove the living conditions of workers backwards, and she looted Britain's state assets, selling off its electricity, steel, railways and telecommunications. She led a revolution that enriched her class, and her ideas spread across the world.

Last week, Thatcher died, but we are still fighting a battle against her legacy. The sabotage begun by her acolyte, Roger Douglas, is today being continued by John Key and his National Party government. The privatisation of Mighty River Power is the beginning of an assault on what remains of state owned assets in Aotearoa, and it is vital that this attack is resisted on the streets. Because, as the once mighty Thatcher found out, when she lost the street to the Anti Poll Tax movement, she lost her Iron Crown.

Its time we took the fight to the Tories, all across the world. Its time that we used our power with the same determination as Thatcher did. We should tell the rich and the speculators that if they risk their money gambling on the privatisation of state assets build up by working people, then they risk losing it all when these assets are renationalised. Renationalised, just as assets were in Bolivia and Venezuela in recent years.

I attended the funeral of Folole Muliaga. We organised the protests outside Mercury Energy in solidarity with her family. She died because her electricity was disconnected, under a Labour government. When our assets are renationalised, it should not be under the failed Profit before People SOE model. Truly public assets controlled by the community, not the corporates, should provide cheap or free power, services and resources to the people, to ensure that the tragedy that befel Folole never happens again.

Aotearoa is Not for Sale. The fight to take her back from Thatcher's worshippers has begun.

Joe Carolan, union organiser and Socialist.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Teachers Strike Back

On Saturday the 13th of April thousands of primary school teachers and supporters marched in Auckland and other towns and cities around the country. Right wing commentators dismissed the teachers as "not knowing what they were protesting", but, as usual this turned out to be false. I spoke to people on the demonstration and listened to the speeches given; everyone knew EXACTLY why they were protesting.

The buzz word of the day was GERM (Global Education Reform Movement), which refers to the neo-liberal reforms taking place around the globe in the education sector. This ‘infection’ that aims to use a business model on public schools, is already incredibly unpopular amongst academics, teachers, parents and students.

Standardisation, league tables, performance based pay and charter schools aim to take the power away from teachers and hand it over to government bureaucrats and business lackeys. The growing opposition to this is loud and clear. Teachers want to be in control of how they teach. They say that collaboration between students, teachers and schools is the best way to do things.

Not surprisingly, the statistics agree with the teachers, this model has worked well in the past and there is nothing to suggest that it won’t continue to perform. Whereas charter schools have been an epic failure in the US and many people are now saying that the entire model should be discarded. Go figure.

On the day, placards read “Class Wars – The Teachers Strike Back!”, “Fight the GERM” and “Stand Up for Kids”. Chants of “Education is a Right, Not a Privilege” and “When Education is under Attack, Stand Up, Fight Back!” echoed up Queen Street.

If I were National I would be concerned. Primary school teachers are educated, caring people with strong ties to the community. They can easily create a very embarrassing situation for the Government. All they need to do is go on strike.

The teachers say that personalised learning, equality of opportunities and trust-based professionalism are the values that really matter. Makes sense to me. After all children are individual human beings with diverse needs, talents and aspirations.

Anyway, no one really thinks that unqualified teachers, larger class sizes and charter schools are good things. Otherwise rich mofos like John Key and David Shearer wouldn’t send their kids to private schools, would they?

Help fight the GERM -

-Shane M, SA
Class Wars – The Teachers Strike Back!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Charting the class struggle

The core principle of socialism from below, that the liberation of the working class is the task of the workers themselves, can seem a daunting one.

After all if workers really wanted freedom and had an interest in the overthrow of capitalist wage-slavery then why do they behave like mindless drones the majority of the time? Why when things are so bad are so many workers apathetic? 

Some Marxists point to dwindling voter participation rates or strike statistics in New Zealand and posit that the working class and their struggle against the capitalist class is over. 

But the controversy in the United Kingdom over the entry into the pop charts of Wizard of Oz song, 'Ding, Dong the Witch is Dead' as a popular response to Margaret Thatcher's death demonstrates the weakness with this analysis.

Ding, Dong reached number two in the UK charts after selling over 52,000 copies. The pro-Thatcher campaign could only manage just short of 9,000 sales of an irreverent punk rock anthem 'I'm in love with Margaret Thatcher'. The corporate media may eulogise the Thatcher years, but the public have nothing but disgust for the vile woman and her policies.

Indeed we see the same pattern repeated across the pop charts of the last fifty years. Driven by the desire by working people for music that relates to their lives and their interests anti-capitalist songs have remained popular in a world that is said to be post-class and post-struggle.

Take for instance the song 'Killing in the Name of' by Rage Against the Machine. In 2009 a campaign got the 1992 song to number one in the UK Christmas charts as a protest against reality television show  X-Factors dominance of the charts. In the middle of the worst recession since the 1930s the anti-capitalist Rage used the song's stellar climb to raise funds and awareness about homelessness in the UK. 

The UK charts prove time and again that instead of being servile and apathetic the toiling masses yearn for subversion and social change. During many years the hit songs are love ballads and irreverent party anthems but burrowing beneath is the conflict and contradiction built into capitalism.

Suddenly as Karl Marx said, "We recognize our old friend, our old mole, who knows so well how to work underground, suddenly to appear: the revolution."

From Peter Gabriel's 1980 hit 'Biko' to Marvin Gaye's 1971 'What's going on' music charts show that working people crave music that assists in explaining the world and aspires to change it. American troubadours from Bruce Springsteen to Kanye West depict the same trend. In order to achieve popular success and critical acclaim music must touch the everyday concerns of people who work for a living. Springsteen's songs from 'The River' to 'Wrecking Ball' follow the blight of Reaganomics on the old American industrial working-class centered in the highly unionised north-east. West's hiphop explores the gritty aftermath of neo-liberalism on black Americans trapped between precarious minimum wage labour and the growing prison-industrial complex.

The pattern holds true in Aotearoa. In 1969 the Save Manapouri campaign was launched, marking the beginning of the modern environmental movement in New Zealand. The same year The Fourmyula's iconic eco-song 'Nature' topped the local music charts.

Forty years later in 2009 the Smashproof hit 'Brother' clocked up a record stay at the Number One spot. The song which laments the killing of a young tagger by a businessman came a year after the triumph of John Key's National Party and during a time when the demonisation of young, Polynesian men was reaching a crescendo within the local Press. The song represents a popular response to the human price of the atomisation, class stratification and spreading poverty in New Zealand society as a whole and South Auckland in particular. 

If we are to accept the pronouncements of the right-wing and some sections of the left then we should discount the agency of the working-class and their capacity to overthrow an unjust system. But closer  inspection of the currents that have swept popular culture along demonstrate the capacity for resistance by working people and their desire for revolution.

John Lennon's Imagine is remembered as one of the most influential songs of the dark twentieth century which was marked not just by war, injustice and mass murder but periodic outbursts of popular anger in which the working-classes in, to name a few, Russia in 1917, Germany in 1918, Spain in 1936, France in 1968, Iran in 1979, Chiapas in 1994 broke free of the system and began to create a new socialist world free from capitalism, imperialism and authoritarianism. Lennon's lyrics capture not just a refusal of the madness of the capitalist system but faith in a socialist future,

Imagine no possessions I wonder if you can 
No need for greed or hunger A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world 
You, you may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one 
I hope some day you'll join us And the world will live as one

-Tim S., SA.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Jellyfish and climate change

Hills in New Zealand are supposed to be green, right?
So Easter was great. I got stung by a jellyfish and the rain was sideways. I sat in a campsite just past Leigh, nursing a jellyfish sting on my leg and staring bleakly into the distance as I became painfully aware that the hills were the wrong colour. Hills in New Zealand are supposed to be green, right? I mean, like, we even have posters. I've fucking seen them. But, no, these hills were beige. Dry, scorched, lifeless, 'I'm considering turning into a desert' - beige. I remembered what the man in the pie shop in Leigh had said “...driest summer on record up here mate.” and what the woman at the beach had said “...we've been coming here 18 years and I've never seen this many jellyfish before.” Was all this a conspiracy to ruin my weekend or is the planet actually fucked. I had to know. Later when I got home, and after I'd finished cleaning the sand out of my brain, I began to research climate change. What I discovered was more frightening than that time my friend gave me party pills and made me stay up all night watching the Saw movies.

Man-made greenhouse gas emissions are warming the planet. Scientists predict that by 2100 the planet will be hotter than it's been since the time of the dinosaurs and that both polar ice caps will melt. They say that as the world warms extreme weather events will become more common and that this means water shortages, rapidly rising seas and superstorms. In 2012 the US saw its worst and most widespread drought since the mid-1950s and New Zealand is currently experiencing the worst drought in 70 years. This is just the beginning.

But what about the jellyfish you say? The science says that 18 out of 24 temperate jellyfish species have been reported to increase in warm waters and as atmospheric CO² increases the ocean becomes more acidic creating less favourable conditions for crustaceans and more favourable for jellyfish. Oh lovely you think, they'll go magnificently with all the wasps, rats and cockraches in a post-apocalyptic ecosystem of doom. You might not be so far from the truth.

Blame the corporations. Blame the oil industry. Blame capitalism. Blame John Key and David Shearer and all the other muppets who don't tackle the root cause of any problem whilst our planet becomes uninhabitable.

We should all take a leaf out of James Hansen's book. He is a leading authority on climate change and was the longest standing director of NASA's Goddard Institute. He recently quit to become a full time climate change activist at the age of 72, saying, that he senses a mass movement on climate change is beginning, led by young people, which he plans to support.

-Shane M., SA

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Socialism or barbarism in Korea

The beginning of 2013 saw the beginning of a new year, filled with the hopes many people had for positive change across the world. We have seen this hope quickly dashed in eastern Asia since North Korea conducted its third nuclear test in February. Since the close of the Cold War almost 20 years ago, we have seemingly forgotten the terrifying possibility of nuclear decimation at the hands of a “communist” state. Bombs have been dismantled and sabres lowered since that time by both sides but we may now face the same threat again, with many of the same powers on the brink of total war. Despite conventional armed conflict ceasing on the Korean peninsula 60 years ago this June, North Korea has declared a “state of war” with South Korea after threats of “thermonuclear war” have been made over the past few weeks, also on the part of North Korea. Despite the North’s long history of skirmishes and rocket attacks against South Korean border towns, never before have relations deteriorated so quickly through the actions and threats of the involved belligerents.

Despite North Koreas crippling food shortages and enormous debt, they seem prepared to stand their ground against the United States as an emerging nuclear power in the east. This recent state of affairs has escalated surprisingly and worryingly quickly since the US flew nuclear-capable stealth bombers close to the North Korean border and deployed stealth fighters to South Korea. Currently the United States is on military exercises with South Korea, provoking more bellicose rhetoric from the North. They have moved intermediate range ballistic missiles armed with nuclear warheads to the eastern coast, and have recently raised the missile platforms, seemingly in preparation to fire. Though North Korea may be the butt of many political jokes in the west and not taken as seriously as some nations without any nuclear weapons of any kind, the situation is undeniably serious. There should be no confusion about this.

This frighteningly tense situation is the product of many years of deceit, spite and competition between two powers just as bad as the other.

With the Korean peninsula divided in 1953 along the 38th parallel into north and south after the Korean War, the two countries signed a cease fire, but did not end the war, continuing it to this day. After the war, the North and its Soviet-backed despot, Kim Il-Sung consolidated his power, purging his countrymen and enslaving his working citizens in a Stalinist horror show. Never has another head of state become a Stalinist bootlick so quickly. As if this was not enough, he closed the borders and turned his country into an isolationist bastion of Stalinism, earning the name “hermit kingdom” for his nation. The South was no better. The U.S-backed South Korean yesman, Syngman Rhee, arrested and in some cases executed communists, social democrats, Korean reunification activists and other political dissidents who could be portrayed as North Korean sympathisers, his Korea developing a shocking human rights abuse record (almost on par with the Norths) as a result of his anti-communist and self proclaimed pro-authoritarian government. With these strongmen at the helm, as they fought their war and consolidated their power, their citizens, whom they are sworn to protect, became the first casualty of the imperialist Cold War strategy of proxy conflicts. Ever since the two states have been arguing, threatening and provoking each other, at times allowing the situation to degenerate into skirmishes. As socialists committed to peace between workers, we see this as an utterly shameful and completely unacceptable way to run a country. The leader of any nation taking their country to war, or threatening and provoking war that would result in the harm of the people of said country is a purely criminal act.

Socialist Aotearoa is a member of the International Socialist Tendancy. We believe that North Korea is neither a communist nation nor a degenerated workers’ state, instead identifying it as state capitalist. North Korea was never a communist state. The workers do not and have never held power, owned the means of production and have not been democratically integrated citizens of the nation since the election of the late dictator, Kim Il-Sung, who was elected in the first and only election in the North’s history. The North Korean leadership operates the nation with nothing but naked self interest at heart and runs the completely nationalised economy as a giant corporation, stealing the profits created by workers, competing against private businesses and other states whilst with-holding food from the workers who created this profit. Its biggest exports are cocaine, prison labour and counterfeit currency. No nation that is communist, that is run by workers for workers can possibly claim communist status if it represses and abuses its people as North Korea does.

We also hold that the former U.S.S.R, China, Vietnam, Cuba, Cambodia, Myanmar and Albania were not communist (and for those surviving states, still not communist), but state capitalist in their very essence. State capitalist China has kept a good relationship with North Korea over the years, lending gargantuan amounts of money and selling advanced arms to the North Koreans, perpetuating this war since the beginning. This demonstrates China’s refusal to embrace peace and its commitment to war, enduring since its creation in 1947.

China has openly aided North Korea in erecting and maintaining the fourth largest standing military in the world, which requires tens of billions of dollars each year to do so. However, in doing this the continuing Korean conflict has proved correct the International Socialist Tendency’s analysis of the permanent arms economy to be correct, and provided what may be the longest uninterrupted example of this phenomenon.

The permanent arms economy is a theory developed by the prominent revolutionary Marxist Tony Cliff, who answered a question that had confronted international Marxists and Trotskyist Marxists for years. Another revolutionary leader, the Ukrainian Leon Trotsky, had predicted massive capitalist economic stagnation, and then a severe economic crash after the Second World War, as there was after the WW1. But this never occurred. The reason this collapse never happened was because of the amount of military industry being built during the Second World War and a possible new war in Europe with the Soviets and in Asia with the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

Therefore, no nations in the prospective war zones disarmed for fear of fresh conflict. They continued maintaining disproportionately large armies (in some cases such as North and South Korea after the Korean war, grossly disproportionate) even when there was no tangible military conflict taking place. Certain nations increased their military output, some far more than others. This was a continuation of the military industrial complex, which North Korea and China have maintained, though instead of maintaining the military infrastructure of the Second World War, the aftermath of the Korean and Cold Wars is what has helped to maintain these permanent arms economies within eastern Asia. South Korea’s key ally, the United States, has assisted them in maintaining their own permanent arms economy, and has helped the South establish its own through a series of loans and gifts of both a military and fiscal nature.

Part of the perpetuation of the permanent arms economy is nuclear weapons. These weapons are built purely to deter nations from using their nuclear weapons, which other nations own for the same purpose. No workers’ state would produce nuclear weapons, for defence or otherwise. Nuclear weapons have no use but to kill people, destroy housing, raze economic installations and poison the earth. Their use is only applicable to the most apocalyptic of wars. Socialists see these as a completely unnecessary waste of resources and, in the event of their use, human life. In the short term, we think it vital that the North and South Korean regimes and their allies step down from the threat of fresh conflict. In the long term, we deem nuclear disarmament key to our survival as a species - we must rid ourselves of them forever or become extinct at their hands. We think the same of those who would sanction their construction and use.

The Korean tinderbox is a very real threat. It could stop being a local war and turn into a regional war in eastern Asia, possibly evolving to include Oceania and western Asia or even the world superpowers, who are already taking a keen interest in the events transpiring on the Korean peninsular if not already taking an active role. Socialist Aotearoa supports only one war in Korea– the class war. We believe that the working class must rise up and take power, relieving those from power who would even threaten the use of a nuclear bomb against our working brothers and sisters in the two Koreas. The undivided, unified working class collaborating to bring down the government of the ruling class is the only hope to defeat any future attempt at such a heinous war.

Though we may not know what the future holds, whether it be the continuing stalemate of a decades-old conflict or immolation at the hands of a nuclear bomb, we see now that socialism has passed from the realm of a rosy alternative to a critical step in human preservation and development. This change must occur quickly if we intend to see humanity intact during the next century. This is why we must fight now. Our government may not be able to threaten a thermonuclear war, but it has unabashedly fought the United State’s imperialist war for them in Afghanistan for the last twelve years. We cannot continue with the current system of international politics. It is fratricide from a moral standpoint, and suicide from a social and economic standpoint. We demand a permanent end to all imperialist wars, occupations, thefts, intimidation and bullying. For peace and socialism on the Korean peninsula.

-George M., Socialist Aotearoa

Refugees are welcome here!

Last week 66 Sri Lankan asylum seekers landed in a small boat on Australia's west coast after an epic 44 day voyage across the Indian Ocean. Among the asylum seekers are children and a pregnant woman.

As Grant Bayldon, Amnesty International's New Zealand executive director told RadioNZ, '90% of all boat people arriving in Australia are found to be legitimate refugees.'

The Sri Lankan asylum seekers, many Tamils, are fleeing an awful civil war. The Western Australian Refugee Rights Action Network provides a useful backgrounder page on the situation,
Sri Lanka was victim to a bloody civil war between the ethnic minority of Tamils and the ethnic majority of Sinhalese, a war that has lasted for over 26 years. The Tamils were consequently defeated in the civil war, by 2009 – 300, 000 Tamils were held in concentration camps controlled by the Sri Lankan army. Conditions within the camps included shortages of food, water and medical supplies. The squalid conditions resulting in a death rate of several hundred per month.
John Key's response has been to gloat that this justifies his hard line on asylum seekers. It does nothing of the sort. The asylum seekers face spending months or years in Australian immigration detention and  processing facilities. They face being returned to a country where they may be killed or tortured. As John Pilger has described the use of the term 'illegal immigrant',
The use of the term “illegal immigrants” is both false and cowardly. The few people struggling to reach our shores are not illegal. International law is clear – they are legal. And yet [the Australian Labor Party], like [former Australian PM] John Howard, sends the navy against them and runs what is effectively a concentration camp on Christmas Island. How shaming. Imagine a shipload of white people fleeing a catastrophe being treated like this.
The Sri Lankan refugees will now face the harsh conditions of Christmas Island detention centre a place described last year by Australia's own Human Rights Commissioner as harsh and overcrowded.

From there they face the possibility of being returned to Sri Lanka without having their asylum claims heard as Australian human rights lawyer David Manne spelled out in an interview with Fairfax Media.

The asylum seekers, by flying the New Zealand flag, have brought the issue of boat people to public attention. But it's not enough for us to tut tut when Australia imprisons people fleeing war and torture and returns them to their home country.

New Zealand accepts just 750 refugees a year while Australia lets in 20,000. We can and should do more to offer those fleeing war and terror a safe refuge.

Just as Helen Clark in 2001 offered to take the refugees onboard the Tampa, the New Zealand Government should tell the Australian Government that we will accept the asylum seekers. Refugees and asylum seekers should be welcomed to New Zealand!

- Socialist Aotearoa

Education is Not for $ale

What could possibly come next on the education agenda of the National Government?

Lesson plans sponsored by corporations? "Good morning pupils. Today's recorder lesson is brought to you by iTunes, where all your favourite songs are just a click away."

Art supplies provided by Novopay? "Sorry children you will have to make do painting using blue  only today. The schools art supplier mucked up the orders and sent all the other colours to a school in Invercargill. But don't worry because they've got debt collectors to send threatening letters to the principal."

Charter schools run by SkyCity Casino? You can just see Bill English announcing in Parliament without a hint of irony,"In recognition of the need for the Government to balance the books we have made an agreement with SkyCity for them to take over the operations of five Auckland schools. We all know that SkyCity have significant experience watching over children."

It's funny but it isn't, because this Government is like a child. It doesn't know when to stop and it still needs to learn right from wrong. Just look at how it behaved during the Christchurch school closures. Some Education Ministry flunky was probably thinking, "Well we all know teachers like giving out gold stars and using visual teaching methods, I know how we can organise the principals when we make the announcement..."

That's why teachers are right to be fighting the Nats and their bumbling Education Minister Hekia Parata every step of the way. The protests have already had an effect. Just as teachers saw off increased class sizes last year this year it will be vital that teachers lead the way again.

Teachers' strikes are like a flare in the night sky. For a short moment they illuminate the political landscape. In the dark no one notices the Government stealing the right of children to a free, good quality education. Once that flare is lit all of society can see that this battle is about teachers standing up for people before profit.

Of course all of the National Government's plans to privatise education first require the breakup of the teachers' unions. Just as any privatisation of the Auckland ports requires the defeat of Maritime Union Local 13.

Teachers are in a unique position however. Last year unionists had a hard time working to get the public on the side of the wharfies. Telling your mum that you supported the wharfies strikes before Christmas 2011 was like saying you were delighted Santa's sleigh was broken down just past Kumeu.

But with teachers when you tell your workmates, "I support the strikes", you don't get "Oh but aren't they so greedy and I heard they threatened to punch a scab". You get a, "So do I mate. If I had to look after my little brats six hours a day, five days a week with twenty other of their mates bouncing off the ceiling I'd want a day off and a pay rise as well."

Which gives the teachers' unions a little bit of responsibility. We all know this Government's real players (Key, Brownlee and Joyce) and their mates running the corporations have sought to take on the unions one at a time. First they smashed the actors' campaign for decent wages on the Hobbit. Then they blindsided the Affco meatworkers. After that came the Auckland wharfies. Now they want to break the teachers' unions.

So teachers must strike and win not just for themselves but also to show the way for all those other workers angry at the Government but unsure of what to do, DoC workers losing their jobs, 18 and 19 year olds facing youth rates at Pak'N'Save, West Coast miners watching their community be decimated because of the greed and incompetence of Solid Energy's CEO. If strikes and protests can spread from the schools to other workplaces then instead of losing one by one all of us can win together.

The media of course will be looking for any reason to criticise strikes. They'll send journos into the suburbs to find nine year olds at home without their parents and run stories about "irresponsibility". But for workers, strikes are our best bet when it comes to defending our rights and when teachers stand up and say, "Education is not for sale" then people up and down this country will go, "I hope the teachers give the Nats a bloody good hiding".

There are hundreds of thousands of people out there who are scared of this Government and worried about their future. Disabled people are being squeezed off benefits, young families are struggling to pay exorbitant rents and mortgages and everyone is worried about losing their job. But things aren't going to get better until we get rid of the Nats and that is not going to happen until fear turns to anger and we unite together to throw John Key and his mates out of the Beehive and say 'Hit the road Jack!"

Kia kaha, kia toa, kia manawanui to the teachers!

-Socialist Aotearoa

Monday, April 08, 2013

Stop Asset Sales? RENATIONALISE.

On Saturday April 28th of last year, over 8,000 people marched through Queen Street in Auckland, insisting that Aotearoa is Not for Sale. The march was organised by a small group of grassroots and left wing activists, but attracted endorsement from the broader left, including the CTU, Greens and the Labour Party.

The anger that people feel against brainfade John Key and the National Government is increasing, month by month. However, there is also another problem in New Zealand today. The lack of any co-ordinated resistance to his policies on the streets or in the workplaces. Individual unions fight defensive struggles here and there. Speeches are made in parliament, but the hard work of building social movements to challenge the Government's attacks is absent. At some stage we must say that the Emperor has no clothes.

The Emperor has no clothes. If parties such as Labour and the Greens would commit to renationalising privatised State Assets when they came to power, then the share flotations would be NZ's version of the Facebook Flop.

And if these assets are renationalised, it shouldn' t be back to the Profit before People SOE model, that killed Folole Muliaga in South Auckland. Her electricity was disconnected under a Labour Government. If Rio Tinto's aluminium smelter in Tiwai Point wasn't receiving such huge subsidies from taxpayers, the average working class electricity bill would be reduced by $80 a month.

This year, on Saturday April 27th, people will gather again to say that Aotearoa is Not for Sale. But this time we have a message too, to Labour and the Greens- Renationalise State Assets, and when you do, put People before Profit. There is no point in saying we should change Governments, if there will not be a change in policies.

To people who are angry at John Key and his rotten Government- If you want to see resistance to this rotten Government on the street, then join us. Help print and put up posters, spread the word via fliers and facebook, and bring your workmates, classmates, family and friends.

Aotearoa is Not for Sale.

Joe Carolan
personal capacity.