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Sunday, July 23, 2017

New Zealand General Election 2017 and Temporary Migrants

This year’s general election is a very strange affair in some respects and yet majority of the on goings are not unexpected at all. The anti-immigrant rhetoric that most political parties are employing is not only spreading racism against migrants but it has also deepened a division between well settled migrants and migrants on temporary visas. Such ploys are the norm for right wing neo-liberal parties but it is quite shocking to see the ‘left wing’ parties sing to the same tune.

Like most countries on this globe we live in a capitalist economy. To put it very simply the capitalist model’s primary goal is continuous growth of profit. All other forms of growth under this model are secondary, sometimes a by-product, and not necessarily a strategic part of the plan. In order to increase profit on an ongoing basis while competing aggressively, cost cuts are necessary for capitalism to thrive. In the process there has been and always will be exploitation of natural resources, environment and labour to say the least.
My focus in analysing the current political environment in New Zealand is labour in the form of migrant workers, particularly those currently in New Zealand on temporary visas.
The fact that thousands of migrant workers have been brought in year after year under the guise of world class education that could lead to permanent residence (as advertised by government websites), the fact that the English language requirements for studying in New Zealand are abolished when the vulnerable migrant labour pool needs to be flooded, the fact that we have a system of bonded labour by tying migrant worker’s visa to their employer and allowing exploitation to flourish, the fact that international students can be deported for being victims of fraud committed by immigration agents that the government refuses to license because it is too expensive to do so, the fact that the government provides no protection to whistleblowing migrant workers in exploitative situations, the fact that there’s only about 60 Labour Inspectors for the entire country, the fact that exploiting employers can wind up and open shop under different names and the fact that the government allows the wages and working conditions to be driven down for all workers in New Zealand by allowing sub-human treatment of migrant workers is enough to conclude that the ruling National party sides with the rich minority and not the majority working class (residents and migrants) that struggles to make ends meet.
The remaining right wing parties like NZ First, ACT, United Future and others are just varying shades of blue on either side of National and therefore don’t require further elaboration here.
Historically migrants have generally voted for the Labour party that is currently in opposition. However, that may not be the case in the upcoming election given that Labour managed to create an anti-Chinese sentiment by releasing a ‘report’ about the Auckland housing market back in 2015. The election policies announced by Labour mention tightening of rules for foreign property speculators to buy existing houses. The foreign speculators will then be allowed to buy new houses built under a Labour government?  The policies do not include clear statement about houses are for living in and the owner must live in the house they own i.e. one family/person equals one house. Plenty of rich New Zealanders have also used houses as an investment. What will happen to them under a Labour government? Labour’s Fiscal Plan released few days ago is about budget responsibilities, the document looks very corporatised and is not easy to follow for a lay person. Workers don’t need to be blinded with gloss, they simply need to know if they will be uplifted enough to make ends meet. But Labour promises to increase the legal minimum wage to $16.50 per hour and then to two thirds of average wage when economic conditions allow. That could be never if it does not suit the ledger. Under Labour the living wage would only be for ‘core government employees and overtime for contractors to government agencies’. Why not pay all workers at least a living wage? Contractors to government agencies? That translates into Labour will continue to support privatisation.
And now in the race for vote grabbing Labour has once again proven to be anti-immigrant by announcing a severely reduced quota of migration into New Zealand should they form government. The reason being that the infrastructure cannot cope with recent migration of approximately 70,000 per year. The present government has certainly not invested in the infrastructure at the required rate. Nett migration has always been controlled and known to the government. Therefore the problem lies with the government’s inability or lack of will to fix the issue and not the migrants themselves. Let’s suppose cutting nett migration to low numbers (20,000 to 30,000 as suggested by Labour) would alleviate problems such as housing shortage, traffic congestion etc. in the near future.  But that is a number for the future, what about the migrants already here on temporary visas? Temporary migrants who have invested all they have financially, emotionally and socially face a dim future. These workers have contributed to New Zealand economy heavily through international student fees, income tax and general living costs. On average each international student spends about $30,000 per year making up approximately $5bn export industry. Hospitality, tourism, farming and building industries are also heavily reliant on temporary migrant workers. It would be much more sensible for Labour to keep hold of these migrant workers permanently and strengthen their rights instead of replacing them with another set of vulnerable migrant workers like National plans to.
There is a glimmer of hope among the atmosphere of despondency and disillusionment. The Green party announced their election policies last week. All benefits will be increased by 20%, beneficiaries will be able to work longer hours without taking a cut to their benefit, minimum wage will increase to 17.75 per hour next year and will keep increasing until it is 66% of average wage by 2020, income above $150,000 per year will be taxed at 40%, removal of all financial sanctions on beneficiaries, no intrusive interrogation of sole parents by WINZ. For migration the Greens will increase the refugee quota to 5000 being the highest compared to all other parties so far and there will be no cap on ‘sustainable migration’ for all other categories. While in absolute terms these policies are not radical or revolutionary, but relatively speaking the Greens have announced the most positive, progressive and easy to grasp changes for the working class should they be in government. Despite the fact that the Greens’ policies do not address the settlement of migrant workers in New Zealand on temporary visas, we should be positive about the Greens’ leftward move. Should Labour form a government after 23 September we expect the Greens to keep travelling further Left and pulling Labour along with them.
As the temporary migrants have no voting rights, it is up to the rest of us to take their concerns further this election. It is also the responsibility of more settled migrants to take under their wing the newly arrived fellow workers and migrants.

Anu Kaloti

Migrant Workers Association of Aotearoa

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Must watch movie- Spirit of '45 by Ken Loach


This insightful 2013 documentary about the birth of Britain’s welfare state, by left-wing moviemaker Ken Loach, is both uplifting and depressing at the same time. Inspirational in that Britain’s post-war Labour reforms were nothing short of revolutionary: visionary social democracy at its finest. Depressing because of how far our own Labour party has strayed from these ‘for the many, not the few’ principles.
In 1945 Britain’s returning troops were hailed as wartime heroes… yet they marched back from the horrors of battle to the horrors of working-class life. Lice-infested tenements, overcrowding, hunger, mass unemployment, disease, a bleak existence all round. Against this background, Labour leader Clement Attlee swept to a landslide victory in the 1945 elections on the promise of, among other welfare reforms, a free health service for all (the NHS); public ownership of the railways, mines and banks; and a massive social housing programme. Miners actually wept when they heard of Labour’s victory. To know that no longer was profit to come before health and safety (at the time a miner had an average life expectancy of 42) was like a beautiful miracle. As one ex-miner told The Guardian: “We owed trillions to the Americans at the end of the war, we had nothing, but we said ‘knickers to the debt’. We are going to put this country back on its feet.”
Think of it. Here was a country that was financially and physically devastated. Slum housing was rife, and many cities suffered severe bomb damage. And yet the government undertook a massive house building programme. The political will was there to do so. Tens of thousands of homes were thrown up speedily, to house the poor. Sure, many were prefabs and intended as temporary housing (even though some remain to this day) – but the point is that it was accepted that housing was a priority, no matter the financial difficulties. As was free access to health and education, regardless of a person’s income or social background. It was a given that ordinary people had to come first.
As we head towards another election, we need to bear this historic precedent in mind. Our own Labour Party’s response to people living in garages and cars and most working class people barely able to afford their rent, never mind their own home? Cut down on migration. Scapegoating migrants is pathetic – not to mention anti-working class - at best, dangerous at worst.
We’re told that solving the housing problem is complicated. So much energy goes into explaining why we can’t meet the need. Yes, it isn’t straightforward. We need to launch widespread apprenticeship schemes so we have the tradespeople, and to relax some of the red tape around building among other things. But it is possible. There are many models in Europe and Scandinavia of affordable, safe, medium density developments built of sustainable materials and that foster community interaction. But first and foremost we need the political will. What we need is a return to solid socialist principles, where the wealth of a nation is measured on how well we treat ordinary people, on how well the most vulnerable are cared for.

The Spirit of 45 is about precisely that. Download it. Watch it. Then put it on a USB and send it to Andrew Little.
Review by Maria SA.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

This home is Occupied.



In Glen Innes, elderly Niki has been threatened with eviction from the home she has lived in for decades. Her state home has been sold to a redevelopment company that is trying to make megabucks by gentrifying her neighbourhood.


Niki is refusing to leave her home. And why should she leave? Why should she give into the government's plans to profit by tearing up her community, accepting a precarious new existence that could see her shifted out south?

The developers are going to obtain a possession order this Tuesday, the 24th of January. We need to stop them from evicting her, and this means protecting her house through a mass peaceful sit-in.

This is about saving Niki's home, but it's also about something much bigger. While our rents climb and climb and climb, state housing is being eaten away at. If we don't stand up to this, we will be dragged further towards this new reality where housing is not a right but an expensive, temporary privilege. This affects all of us.

If we stop her eviction, we will ignite hope across Glen Innes and the country that state housing tenants have a right to their homes, and that we can defend them together.

If you are reading this, I am asking you to come to 14 Taniwha Street at 9am on Tuesday. If you can't, come later on the day, or Monday, or whenever you can. We need you.

By Sam Vincent.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

This is a community not a Monopoly board- Defend Niki from eviction.



The Nats may still be in power … but yesterday in Glen Innes it was the people who owned the streets. Hundreds of protestors waving banners with ‘Stop the Evictions’ and chanting ‘Stop the War on the Poor!!” marched through the suburb to protest the eviction notice served on Niki Rauti, who is being forced to leave her state home of over 30 years. Two marches, one coming from Tamaki Road and the other leaving from outside the library on Line Road, converged outside Niki’s Taniwha Street home to lend their support and express their anger at the dismantling of state housing under National. Unions, local residents and housing groups were among those united in opposition to the relocation plan.

Shouts of ‘shame!!!’ went upas Niki apologised for not being on the protest for fear they would ‘change the locks’ on her house in her absence.
Speakers emphasised this was just the beginning; some protestors remained to occupy the property, and a telephone contact list was established to summon support at short notice should any attempt be made to physically remove Niki from her home.

In October the Tamaki Regeneration Company (TRC) handed Niki a 90-day eviction notice to leave her two-bedroom home. The TRC, a housing development company jointly owned by the Government and Auckland Council, has targeted 2800 state houses to be replaced with new homes over the next 15 years. The government says the move will help ease the housing crisis, but the Tamaki Housing Group  argues that the land is being given to developers who are land banking on empty homes while homelessness increases. It says many of the new homes are being sold for over $800,000 and that house prices in the area have increased from $400,000 to $960,000 since the redevelopment began.

The whole scheme smacks of the social cleansing that is happening throughout Auckland, as rising house prices and spiralling rents edge working class families out of their communities to make way for the wealthy. It’s also symptomatic of an ever increasing social divide, in everything from wages to education. Just two days ago, Oxfam released research showing the richest 1 per cent of Kiwis have 20 per cent of the wealth in New Zealand, with 90 per cent of the population owning less than half of the country's wealth. Meanwhile ordinary Kiwis – from the elderly and vulnerable like Niki to nurses, teachers and retail workers – are struggling to survive on benefits and low wages that are eaten up by rocketing rents.

The march may have been focused on No 14 Taniwha Street, but its importance goes far beyond the situation in Tamaki. It’s about working people, ordinary Kiwi families drawing a line in the sand and saying ‘enough’. The housing crisis won’t be solved by shifting people like Niki from ‘prime real estate’ and sowing insecurity and instability among established communities. What is needed is a massive state house building programme combined with a minimum wage that is a living wage. Unions Auckland Housing Committee Chair Joe Carolan commented after the march: "We need rent controls and decent, healthy affordable accommodation for workers. The main way we can control rents is to flood the market with 100,000 new state houses. We also need an empty house tax of $3,000 a week, to force the owners of Auckland's 33,000 ghost houses to immediately help shelter our people living in cars, garages or the streets."

A sign outside Niki’s home reading ‘This is a community not a Monopoly board’ really summed up what 2017 is shaping up to be about:. People before profit.
Bring it on.

Maria Hoyle, Socialist Aotearoa 

"Her eviction will be theirs"- Defend Niki from the National Government

The social movement of 2017 hit the streets of Glen Innes in strength yesterday to defend Ioela Niki Rauti from eviction at the hands of the State. Activists from many campaign groups united pledging material and physical solidarity to stop the ethnic and social cleansing of working class Glen Innes, built on Maori land to provide "homes for heroes" after the suffering of two world wars and the Depression.

"Sometimes we need to put our bodies on the gears of the machine to stop injustice. There will be resistance to this eviction and solidarity with Ioela Niki Rauti. Her speech was the highlight of the Unite Union Conference before Christmas, and I was glad to see many of our activists and members supporting her yesterday. Other Unions like First Union and the Nurses joined the fight in numbers - it is time the CTU lent it's organisational support to end the Housing crisis this year." said Unions Auckland Housing Committee chair Joe Carolan.

"We need rent controls and decent, healthy affordable accommodation for workers. The main way we can control rents is to flood the market with 100,000 new state houses. We also need an empty house tax of $3,000 a week, to force the owners of Auckland's 33,000 ghost houses to immediately help shelter our people living in cars, garages or the streets."
"This government, and any other, can be beaten by the People Power we saw on Taniwha Street yesterday. We beat them on the TPPA, on Zero Hours contracts- this year is the year the Housing Crisis explodes for Bill English. The downfall of the National government has begun with our solidarity with Niki - her eviction will be theirs".

Joe Carolan is standing as a Socialist candidate for the Mt Albert by election, standing on a platform of rent controls, an empty house tax, and the building of 100,000 new healthy state homes. People Before Profit - #SocialistNZ

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Its Official. The "Mad Butchers'" gone Mad!




From working class roots in Wellington. He left school at 15 in 1959.His first job was a newspaper "boy" and then he scored an apprenticeship to become a "Butcher" in Seatoun.

He opened his first Butcher shop in the working class suburb of Mangere. He got his name from a guy in the local pub who called him “the fucking Mad butcher” and the legend was born.


How the fuck can someone with working-class roots turn into such a c%$t! (Pardoned me).
Well, I suppose it has taken him 72 years to get to this point and a few million dollars has probably helped?


This incident involving a young wahine out with her whanau on Waiheke island over the new year’s period seems to have captured attention on Social Media and LSM, with the exception of Mihi Forbes who broke this story on RNZ hours before LSM did last night.

Within a few short hours of the young woman’s Facebook post of a short video release. The Herald & TVNZ rushed to the “White Ole Rich Pricks” defense and gave him National coverage to tell his version of what happened! Oh! He says, “it was a misunderstanding. “She misinterpreted what I really meant?" Obviously? “It was just a bit of Banter?” Oh and the drinking shit too thrown in for good measure! WTF!
His PR spin doctors must have been a bit pissed too!

What part of "Waiheke is a white man's Island and she should not be there” is to be misunderstood or misinterpreted as anything other than institutionalised, indoctrinated white man’s racism?
To make things much worse and is concerning is the speed of LSM coming out in support of him and delivering his Lame-Arse excuse in National Media.

As a descendant of Paoa-Hura from Waiheke I’d like to correct the ole prick. It’s not a “white man’s island.” Much of Waiheke has been bought up by “Rich White Men” that part is true. For holiday homes and/or to make mega-bucks by speculating in the housing bubble.

I wonder if he would have said that to Serena Williams the other day when she had visited Waiheke island. You know, if they had bumped into each other? Probably not? He probably would have drooled all over her like a creepy uncle and welcomed her with an impromptu “White Man’s Haka!”

No excuses, no PR spin. He should be sanctioned severely by the Human Rights Commission, the public & national media. But, I won’t be holding my breath. His spin doctors will continue with the lame arse excuses. He’ll probably now, offer sponsorship of some kind to projects or a “Women’s” sports team or individual. Then the nation will put him back up on the mantelpiece of NZ hero’s?

He should lose his title of “Sir”? If not. From this point forward be known as “Sir Dickhead - of White Man’s Island” from the colony in the South Pacific, New Zealand, the Land of the Old White Prick!

Denny Thompson SA