Saturday, 26 February 2011

Stop the massacre in Libya! Power to the people

A statement by the Socialist Alliance in solidarity with the people's uprisings in Libya and the Arab world

26 February 2011

The Socialist Alliance extends its full solidarity to the people of Libya now being brutally repressed for demanding an end to the corrupt and unjust regime of dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

Their courageous struggle, launched on February 15, for democracy and economic and social justice has resulted in hundreds, if not thousands, of people being killed. Civilians have been strafed and bombed from helicopters and planes, and snipers with high-powered rifles have fired into unarmed crowds. The regime’s murderous crackdown has concentrated on Benghazi - Libya’s second largest city, and the poorest – on the country’s north-east coast, but fighter jets and snipers have also been used against protesters in Tripoli.

Zimbabwe: 46 arrested activists charged with treason, tortured

Munyaradzi Gwisai, who spoke in Auckland in April 2007.

25 February, 2011

It has now been confirmed that detained labour movement activist and leading member of the International Socialist Organization Zimbabwe Munyaradzi Gwisai (pictured) and 45 other activists detained by the Zimbabwe state on February 19 have been charged with treason.

If found guilty of treason, the activists risk a sentence of death or life imprisonment. They are being tortured to extract bogus confessions.

The arrests followed a raid on a closed meeting that was discussing the implications of the revolutions in the Arab world.

Gwisai is director of the Labor Law Centre and former Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) MP.

We call on all readers, to urgently send protest messages calling for the dropping of all charges and the immediate release of the comrades. We also call on you to contact trade unions and unionists, human rights groups and members, and anyone else who can send such messages.
Please send statements of protest to and copy to and
See below for a selection of protest statements.
You can also email protest letters to the Zimbabwe embassy in Australia [which also covers New Zealand].
People can also call the following numbers to exert pressure – at least to let the powers that be know that people are aware of what is going on.
  • Patrick Chinamasa (minister of “justice”): 263 4 860 006 (home)
  • President’s Office: +263 4 252 440 or +263 4 700 071
  • Police Commisioner Augustine Chihuri: +263 4 250 008 (office) or +263 11 808 290 (mobile)
  • Home Affairs (police) Minister Kembo Mohadi: +263 11 605 424 (mobile) or +263 4 794628 (office)
  • State Security (CIO) Minister Didymus Mutasa: +263 11 200 532 (mobile) or 263 4 774189 (office)
  • Wayne Bvudzijena (police spokesman): +263 11 801 172 (mobile)
  • Happyton Bonyongwe (director of the Central Intelligence Organisation): +263 4 497 849 (home)
  • In Australia (and New Zealand) please send an urgent e-mail to Zimbabwean officials calling for the activists and socialists to be released immediately and unharmed to

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Facts on Welfare in NZ

The National-led government's right-wing blitzkreig on our social welfare system is the opposite of what any decent society should be doing to support out-of-work people.

The Christchurch Methodist Mission has produced an excellent overview of the facts about welfare in New Zealand, as well as strategies we should be adopting. Please share so that we can combat the misinformation and attacks on beneficiaries that the National government is leading. View document.


Media Release
22 February 2011

‘The Rebstock Welfare Working Group report released today is a disgraceful, dirty attack on beneficiaries and on the very basis of our welfare system’ says AAAP spokesperson Sue Bradford.

‘While some of its recommendations are very much in line with what we expected, others, such as forcing beneficiaries with babies as young as 14 weeks out to work, and foisting ‘long acting reversible contraception’ on vulnerable teenagers take the totalitarian approach to a whole new level.

‘I’m beginning to think they’ve been looking to Nazi Germany for inspiration, with their underpinning ‘work makes free’ philosophy, attempted eugenic control of a portion of the population, and its potential racist implications for Maori.’

As many of us expected, the overarching thrust of the report is to foist a UK type system on New Zealand, where almost all beneficiaries are subject to punitive worktesting and sanctioning, including the sick, injured and disabled – and sole parents from the time their children are 3 years old.

Work and Income is to be totally restructured again, with a lot more focus on the contestable contracting out of services. Basically the report is advocating removing welfare from the political arena and running it along corporate profit taking lines – not surprising when one considers the composition of the working group.

Rebstock and co also call for welfare costs to be calculated on the same actuarial basis as ACC’s, meaning that Governments can easily frighten voters with the supposed ballooning costs of welfare which won’t actually ever happen.

‘Everyone involved in this report, not just Paula Rebstock, should hold their heads in shame.’

‘I hope John Key and Paula Bennett will have enough sense – and compassion - to throw this report in the rubbish, where it belongs.’

Our picket at 2pm this afternoon outside Henderson Work & Income will be the first step in a major fightback against any attempts to implement the recommendations of today’s report.

AAAP was set up in late 2010 to bring together unemployed people, beneficiaries, students, unionists, church people and others working for a fairer society which puts the wellbeing of low income people above the welfare of bankers and investors.

Contact: Sue Bradford ph 027 243 4239 or (09) 837 0416, email

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Tax Justice campaign in Britain

Tax Justice from PCS Union TV on Vimeo.

The global financial crisis, caused by the speculative activities of the super-rich, resulted in bailouts of banks and other financial institutions in most developed countries in the world, including New Zealand. The cost of the bailouts and the economic fallout from the crisis has hit grassroots people, through job losses and income cuts, but also increased taxes to pay for the bailouts. But often, as this video makes clear, the super-rich and big corporates have been allowed to escape paying the levels of tax they should. Last year, John Key’s National government upped GST to 15% and lowered taxes for the most wealthy people in New Zealand, and gave big corporates a tax cut as well (company tax has been lowered from 30% to 28%, now one of the lowest corporate tax rates on profit in the world). The massive bailouts and tax cuts to the super-rich have led to governments around the world cutting spending on health, education, welfare and other essential public services. No wonder the call for Tax Justice is starting to sound out loud from ordinary people who are angry at what governments, in partnership with the banks and big corporates, are trying to get away with.

Help fight for Tax Justice in New Zealand. Join the campaign to remove GST from food and tax financial speculation instead. 

Click here for more info. Or contact directly Vaughan Gunson, Tax Justice campaign coordinator, email or phone/txt 021-0415 082.

The World Social Forum, Egypt, and Transformation

by Immanuel Wallerstein
from Commentary No. 299
15 February 2011

The World Social Forum (WSF) is alive and well. It just met in Dakar, Senegal from Feb. 6-11. By unforeseen coincidence, this was the week of the Egyptian people's successful dethroning of Hosni Mubarak, which finally succeeded just as the WSF was in its closing session. The WSF spent the week cheering the Egyptians on - and discussing the meaning of the Tunisian/Egyptian revolutions for their program of transformation, for achieving another world that is possible - possible, not certain.

Somewhere between 60,000 and 100,000 people attended the Forum, which is in itself a remarkable number. To hold such an event, the WSF requires strong local social movements (which exist in Senegal) and a government that at least tolerates the holding of the Forum. The Senegalese government of Abdoulaye Wade was ready to "tolerate" the holding of the WSF, although already a few months ago it reneged on its promised financial assistance by three-quarters.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Harawira symbolises divide between haves, have-nots

by Finlay MacDonald

When it comes to dealing with Hone Harawira, the options for the Maori Party aren't great. But whatever the outcome of the suspension hearing, the schism Harawira emblemises won't go away, because there is a fundamental divide opening up within what is rather simplistically referred to as "Maoridom". It's the divide between the haves and have-nots.

Harawira's problem with his party is usually portrayed as being about his dissatisfaction with their role in supporting and legitimising a National-led government. Thus the dispute can be characterised as one between pragmatism and idealism. As Pita Sharples put it, "If the Maori Party cannot establish itself as a bona fide partner in a government, then our chance is gone and probably there will never be another Maori party."

In other words, Harawira is risking the very future of co-ordinated, self-determining Maori representation in parliament with his radical rhetoric and uncompromising style. Getting a lot less attention, especially in the mainstream (dare one say Pakeha?) media, is what the Maori Party itself is risking in the process of trying to behave like a "bona fide partner in a government".

Monday, 7 February 2011

Key backtracks, says foreign firms can sue NZ government under TPPA

Media Release: Jane Kelsey
7 February 2011

In November last year, Prime Minister John Key described as “far-fetched” the idea that investors could sue the New Zealand government directly in a secret international tribunal to enforce rules in the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

This week, US trade negotiator Barbara Wiesel said that was no longer New Zealand’s position, according to TPPA critic Professor Jane Kelsey.

In response to questions about New Zealand and Australian positions during a briefing to civil society in Washington on 31st January Ms Wiesel said “New Zealand had retracted the Prime Minister’s statement. It is not their position.”

Under standard US terms for such agreements, investors can claim millions in compensation from governments on the grounds that new regulation has adversely affect their investment. Under a TPPA that would apply to investors from all participating countries, including our largest sources of investment, the US and Australia, Jane Kelsey said.

“In other words, the Key government is happy for pharmaceutical firms in the US, Australian banks or Singapore-based Brierley Investments to sue the New Zealand government for millions in compensation if they think new laws or policies are unfair or unreasonable or erode their profitability”, said Professor Kelsey.

“We saw with the Hobbit, just a threat from a foreign investor is often enough to see a government cave. The leverage of Warners over our labour laws and taxpayer subsidies will pale into insignificance with a TPPA.”

Professor Kelsey speculates on three explanations for the flip-flop.

“Either John Key did not know what his negotiators were proposing to do when he described investor-state enforcement as “far-fetched”; or he was lying to the New Zealand public; or he has buckled to pressure from the US, and possibly his own Minister and officials, to agree.”

“This proposed bill of rights for foreign investors is even more frightening when government has announced assets sales and privatisation of ACC, policies which failed in the past and required the government to step back in.”

“The Prime Minister needs to be upfront about the government’s real position before the next round of negotiations begins in Chile on 14 February and explain why he is prepared to give foreign firms the legal power to override New Zealand’s sovereignty and extract settlements of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars”.

Contact Jane Kelsey on (021) 765-055.

More information about the campaign against the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement is here: