Archive for the ‘New Zealand history’ Category

NZ Capitalism Ltd’s smiley new manager

by Phil Duncan

When Helen Clark led Labour into government in 1999, little was on offer for workers.  True, to the left of Labour was the Alliance Party which wanted the introduction of paid parental leave and forced this on Labour as part of the price of coalition, Helen Clark having said initially that it would be introduced “over my dead body”.  However, overall, Labour had been engaged in ensuring workers did not have any high expectations of the incoming government – thus there was no way of workers being disappointed and possibly looking left.

All Clark and her party had to do was sit out enough terms of National in the 1990s – three, as it happened – and rely on people getting bored with the traditional Tories and turning to the new, shinier Tories of the Labour Party.  Moreover, the National-led government came apart in the middle of its third term, with Shipley overthrowing Bolger and with New Zealand First going into parliamentary meltdown – NZF leader Winston Peters entered a major ruck with Shipley and many of his MPs decamped to keep National afloat.  Clark could comfortably walk into power over the rubble.

Altered political landscape

In the few weeks run-up to the latest election Clark fan/acolyte Jacinda Ardern faced a somewhat altered political landscape.  In (more…)

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by Phil Duncan

With Winston Peters announcing that his New Zealand First party is going with Labour and not with National, it looks like the Tories are out and the Xenophobes are in. We’ll now have the two most xenophobic of the four main parties in coalition government (Labour and NZ First). Although the last Labour government was pretty racist in relation to immigration, a Labour-NZF coalition may well be the most xenophobic government since Muldoon in the late 1970s (and the pre-Muldoon Labour government which began the dawn raids on Pacific Islands immigrants).

Watch out immigrants, especially poor people who want to migrate here to make a better life for themselves!

While no-one is under any illusion about Winston Peters’ xenophobia, given that for the last several decades he has made a career out of anti-immigrant – especially anti-Asian immigrant – policies, the liberal left prefers to turn a blind eye to Labour’s anti-Asian racism.  In fact, much of the liberal or centre-left shares  (more…)

Below is an updated version of the article that initially went up straight after the election results of last night.  The updated version takes on board Craig H’s point (see comments) that the article got turnout wrong because it only looked at election night results and thus didn’t take into account special votes.  Thanks to Craig for pulling me up on this error – PD. 

by Phil Duncan

The frontstabbers have won yet again (National) and the backstabbers have lost yet again (Labour).  (For votes and seats see end of article.)

Labour so little inspires the working class, that the majority of workers opt for other alternatives. The combined number of workers who don’t vote and who vote National is, once again, significantly bigger than the number who vote Labour, despite the increasingly bizarre efforts of some lefists to maintain the fiction that Labour is some kind of workers’ party, deserving of being voted for.

This is the second time National has won four terms (the last time being the second National government, which held power from 1960-1972).

Interestingly, the most recent polls proved pretty accurate.

What has proved inaccurate, however, is so many of the pundits.

Leading up to election day, they told us that it was too close to call and/or that this yawn-fest was the most exciting election in living memory. But not only did National beat Labour hands down – it wasn’t a ‘too close to call’ result! – there appears to be little change in voter turnout as a percentage of those enrolled, although enrolments appear to be down a bit as a percentage of the voting age public

In 2014, there was an almost 78% turnout of registered voters. In 2017, the election night count gives a turnout of (more…)

by Don Franks

I don’t care what anyone thinks, I’ve had enough of all the talk about child poverty.  Some of the talk is well-intentioned, but much of it’s actually bullshit

Phrases roll off the tongue but what does poverty mean in New Zealand today?

The Ministry of Social Development works from the level of income set at  60% of median household disposable income after housing costs. This is deemed a reasonable level to protect people from the worst effects of poverty.

Source: Stats NZ 2016

In these terms it’s calculated that the poverty line after deducting housing costs for a household with two adults and two children lies at $600 per week or $31,200 annually in 2016 dollars. For a sole parent with one child it is $385 per week or $20,200 annually in 2016 dollars. Inadequate amounts of money for a decent life and, by such reckoning, there are around 682,50 people in poverty in this country, or one in seven households.

New Zealand is a far more unequal country than it was a generation back. Over the past three decades, under both National- and Labour-led governments, New Zealand has gone from being one of the most equal to one of the most unequal nations in the wealthy OECD countries.  In those 30 years, incomes for the average of the top 10% income earners roughly doubled while lower and middle incomes barely increased. Let’s compare two reports, almost a decade apart.

The 2007 Statistics Department study Wealth and disparities in New Zealand revealed that the top 10% of wealthy New Zealand individuals owned over half of New Zealand’s total net worth, and nearly one fifth of total net worth was owned by the top one percent of wealthy individuals. At the halfway mark, the bottom half of the population collectively owned a mere 5 percent of total net worth.

The most recent available information is a 2016 Statistics Department study Household Net Worth Statistics: Year ended June 2015 (published 2016).  It reveals that the (more…)

Even in the US there is greater awareness of the importance of opposing immigration controls

by Phil Duncan

In New Zealand, working class struggle remains – as it has been for a couple of decades now – at an historic low.  In fact, abject surrender to exploitation and acceptance of the contempt of the employers and their political representatives in National and Labour seems to be thoroughly normal now.  Occasionally a group of workers will struggle, but these workers are a tiny minority and their struggles are limited to immediate conditions and take place entirely within narrowly-prescribed industrial law.

The share of wealth going to workers, meanwhile, continues to decline.  For instance, official figures show that business operating profits have grown from $NZ47 billion in 2009 to just over $NZ65 billion in the latest financial year, an increase of about 38 percent.  But the median-average hourly wage grew by less than 20 percent.   Large numbers of workers simply haven’t received wage rises in the past couple of years.

Mourning sickness

Even when faced with workplace closures, and a possible future of unemployment, the tendency of the employees generally is to look (more…)

As Jacinda Ardern spoke at Labour’s election launch about child poverty the Town Hall was packed with people pinning their hopes on her. Did any give a thought to how deftly she had just a few weeks earlier fed Metiria Turei to the wolves?  Announcing she would not have Turei in a future Cabinet because “When you’re lawmakers, you can’t condone lawbreaking”,  Ardern sided with the pearl-clutching judgmentalism that columnist Zoe Williams writes about in the Guardian.

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The downfall of the New Zealand politician Metiria Turei shows how little empathy is left for those on the dole

 

Some things are easier to see from far away, and a collective slide away from empathy and common sense, towards pearl-clutching judgmentalism, is one of them. At the start of August the co-leader of New Zealand’s Green party, Metiria Turei, was forced to resign, following an outpouring of opprobrium that threatened to poleaxe her party’s prospects in September’s elections.

The crime for which this tide of hate would have been proportionate is hard to imagine: in fact, it was spurred by her admission that she committed benefit fraud in the early 90s, a confession she made freely to highlight how hard it was then, and is now, to raise a child as a single parent under New Zealand’s notoriously punitive welfare system.

More than half of all that country’s benefit claimants owe money to their work and income department, in what appears to be a version of Gordon Brown’s working family tax credit overpayments, where you identify the country’s poorest families, pay them slightly more than you intended by a metric you haven’t really explained, then saddle them with a debt they have no hope of repaying. When you get to the point that these debts affect 60% of claimants, this is no longer a glitch in the system: this is the system.

As the journalist Giovanni Tiso described in a moving essay, “once the blood was in the water, the sharks had to do as nature commanded them” – her admission of guilt was deemed not quite penitent enough. The media set out to “investigate” the extent of her fraud, and found that she had also had support from family members when she was young, so couldn’t possibly have been as destitute as she claims. (more…)

A group of artists are continuing the conversation Metiria Turei MP started – demanding a more compassionate social welfare system. They asked artists who have been on a benefit in NZ (DPB, sickness, invalids, jobseeker, whatever) to draw a picture of themselves, and write a couple of sentences next to it about their experiences.
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Check out their messages https://www.facebook.com/WeAreBeneficiaries/