Friday, 28 October 2011

Tax Justice supports ‘Robin Hood Tax’ global day of action

Tax Justice media release
28 October 2011

“The Occupy Movement is protesting the injustice of the world’s 99% having to bear the costs of a financial crisis caused by an elite few,” says Vaughan Gunson, Tax Justice spokesperson.

“The best mechanism for making the super-rich 1% pay is a financial transaction tax, or Robin Hood Tax,” says Gunson. “It’s very exciting to see that the global movement for this tax which targets banks, big corporates and financial speculators is growing.”

The Robin Hood Tax international day of action on Saturday 29 October is timed to put pressure on the leaders of the G20 before their summit meeting in Cannes on 3 November. In New Zealand, actions are being organised in Wellington, Auckland, and Christchurch.

“Tax Justice has been campaigning over the last year for financial speculation to be taxed. It’s criminal that the profits of speculators go untaxed, while ordinary New Zealanders are taxed every which way,” says Gunson.

The Tax Justice petition signed by 40,000 New Zealanders was presented to Parliament on 16 August. The petition calls for GST to be removed from food and a tax placed on financial speculation instead.

“Politicians in New Zealand need to respond to the global movement and start looking at how we can introduce a Robin Hood Tax in New Zealand,” says Gunson.

Tax Justice would like to see the parties of the left come together on tax policy. “A broad coalition that brings together left parties inside and outside of Parliament, along with unions and other grassroots organisations, could achieve a decisive shift towards a more just fairer tax system,” says Gunson.

“The beauty of financial transaction taxes is that they can target the super-rich who aren’t paying enough tax; it’s almost impossible to avoid; and modern technology makes it a simple and low cost form of tax collection,” says Gunson.

Tax Justice has produced a Fact Sheet on Financial Transactions Taxes and their feasibility for New Zealand. To download PDF click here.

For more information on the Tax Justice campaign go to

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Diary of an occupation — 7 days at #occupymelbourne

By Sue Bolton

Occupy Melbourne, City Square, Day 2, October 16. Photo:
Green Left Weekly’s Sue Bolton has been part of the Occupy Melbourne protest since it began on October 15. Below she recounts the past week of the occupation in Melbourne’s City Square, which was broken up by a fierce police assault on October 21.

Day 5: Still going strong
We are still going strong with about 45 to 50 tents in City Square. I estimate there are about 100 people camping each night with many others staying until late in the night.

The occupation has been set up as a well-established occupation with a 24-hour roster for the info desk and the kitchen. The kitchen is feeding homeless people who also use the square.

The first general assembly passed a motion to welcome the homeless people who use the square. The kitchen has dispensed with meal rosters and is cooking 24-hours a day.

Now a People’s Cinema is being set up and there’s even a People's Library and a Free Clothes Store.

The first general assembly voted that it be a child-friendly space and there are families with children who are occupying.

Throughout each day, numerous people drop in to find out what the occupation is all about. There’s a lot of curiosity but also public support.

The slogan of the campaign, that “We are the 99% against the 1%” is very political, so most people coming to the occupation to browse around the stalls are wanting to have big discussions about the future of society.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Occupy Wellington: A focus for the 99%

By Grant Brookes

“Why are they protesting?” ask the baffled pundits on TV. Meanwhile, the rest of the world asks: “What took you so long?”
Naomi Klein   

With comments like this, campaigning journalist Naomi Klein has captured the essence of the mushrooming movement against corporate greed which began on Wall Street (

The movement is expressing the feelings of a global majority denied a voice in the media and in the corridors of power.

It spread to Aotearoa on October 15, when occupations began in Auckland, Wellington, Christchuch, Dunedin, New Plymouth and elsewhere.

I’ve been to a lot of protests for good causes”, said Dougal, on Day One of the Wellington Occupation. “But it’s often felt like I was part of an embattled minority. This is different”.

With their broad embrace of a myriad of issues, and organising democratically through general assemblies, the occupations around New Zealand have attracted supporters from all walks of life – even as they confound newshounds looking for figureheads, spokespeople and official media releases. 
Occupy Wellington Circle

Around 300 people marched on the NZX Stock Exchange building on Wellington’s waterfront on Saturday. The protest ended with an open microphone, where people got up and talked about why they had come.

An early childhood teacher spoke of how she suddenly found herself in poverty after being made redundant (!), following the National government’s decision to cut $400 million from early childhood education.

An IT consultant talked about how he and his partner have been earning up to $200,000 a year, but still can’t get ahead. He wondered aloud how those on the minimum wage could get by.

A beneficiary spoke of being unable to get a job, despite her university qualifications. “I can't even get a fucking job as a taxi driver”, she said. “I want a fucking revolution!” (

Celia Wade Brown
Then on Sunday, Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown visited the occupation and expressed support.

The occupation has been gifted a whakatauki by local Maori, to express our acknowledgement of tangata whenua as the original occupiers of the land: “Me noho tahi, tena pea ka tika” (‎'Come sit together, and everything will come right').

With backing from such a cross-section of society, we truly are representative of the 99%.

The occupations have shown the ability of people to come together and create cooperative communities. In Wellington, general assemblies are meeting daily at 10am and 6pm, with a different person facilitating each time. Notes from each assembly are being posted at:

A group has been formed to organise food and other supplies to sustain the occupation. A communications and media team has been set up (individuals have produced articles like, 'Multimedia: Occupy Wellington Sets Up Camp In Civic Square' and 'Occupy Aotearoa: A brief summary' A first aid team is forming, along with a roster of people to show hospitality to newcomers, rules for noise control, and a programme of educational workshops and entertainment.

And as we come together, we have also begun to grapple with what exactly is wrong with the world ruled by, and for, the 1% - and to talk about how we can change it, so it works for everyone.

UNITYblog spoke with people occupying Civic Square in Wellington about why they were there, and what they though could be achieved by the occupation.

Nati is from Spain. She followed the wave of occupations of public spaces which began in Spanish cities in May, by the movement known as “The Indignants” (

I came down here to support the movements around the worldpeople that are fed up with everything, basically. I think there are a lot of people who don’t really know why they’re here, but they know that something is wrong and they want to change it.

There are tons of things we can mention – the economic system, the way the world moves, the pyramidal structure that we have. We know that there are thousands of things wrong, so it’s more about coming together to develop a proposal.

We need to focus on solidarity with others, on humanity, going back to the basic needs and basic values that are completely forgotten in our society, like helping each other. And solidarity with the planet, ecological resources. It’s probably going to take years.

But it's good to stand and say, I know that there are things that are wrong, to just stand and say I am seeing this, I'm not blind. I'm coming here to stand in front of others and say, hey, look at this, let's try to change it.

We can think about the power being held by governments, or by corporations as it is now, but the power is from the people, at the beginning. We are the consumers, and we are the workers. So we have the power. We are making the rules here.”

Sarah is a nurse and midwife.

I think the occupation is about raising awareness of the current problems in the world. We can wake a lot more ordinary people up, and get people to actually look at the system that's facing them, and start to think about that more deeply, and about ways in which we can effect change.

And particularly, we're coming up to an election. We've got such a great divide in NZ between the rich and poor. And we know that the bigger the gap between rich and poor, the poorer the society is. There's a lot more crime, and violence, we need to find a way to merge that. There are new political parties springing up, so that's a potential way forward.

There are those who would argue we need to completely collapse the system, and move onto something entirely different, such as a resource-based economy ( The fact is we're all one humanity living on one planet with finite resources. So that's another way.

Some people are arguing we should go back to the gold standard ( So there's lots of ideas, and the more people are involved, the more that evolution can take place. Ideas can join in the giant soup of creation, and come up with something new.”

Monday, 17 October 2011

The Occupations: This time it's different

by Joel Hildebrandt

If you know me, you know I’ve been on many, many marches. Let’s be honest – it gets a little boring. You march & yell and sing and chat with fellow protesters on the street. You arrive at your destination and some designated speakers take the mike and – well, it's boring. People & energy fizzle away. And then what?

Yesterday at Aotea Square in the centre of Auckland was different. Way different. Sure, we marched and shouted and showed off for the media and got to the Square and someone took the mike and they said... Welcome to your occupation. From now on you are in control. We will decide everything together.

They passed out a brochure on consensus with hand signals and what they mean: agree, disagree (but not that strongly), disagree enough to block consensus, process concern. Hey, I live in cohousing, we know what those signals mean! Green card yes, orange card not so much, red card no way... I was in the middle of a People’s General Assembly, and something inside me came back to life. Every proposal that the organizers had come up with was approved, via hand signals, by the Assembly. A different person was coordinating each Working Group, and participants were invited to join the Groups: food, medical, legal, town planning, media, etc. Proposals were requested from the Assembly. Where the tents would be set up, approved by the Assembly. I mean, it’s one thing to use consensus in an intentional community of 32 households. Seeing it work so effectively among a group of strangers is really inspiring! Support for Occupy Wall Street, unanimous consent.

Voting at the Auckland General Assembly

If you haven’t been down there, to Queen Street or Wall Street or Sol or wherever, you have to live it to believe it. Naomi Klein says this is “The most important thing in the world right now”. I agree. Here’s why:

#It’s leaderless. No one is in charge, and everyone is. In some cases (Madrid, Barcelona...) this means hundreds of thousands of people are making decisions by consensus.

#It’s inclusive. Everyone is welcome. Everyone can have a say. And unlike so many movements, it is not divisive.

#It is democratic. All decisions are made by everyone.

#It is sustained. It does not fizzle after a couple of hours; it stays there in Zucotti Park, or La Puerta del Sol, or wherever, day after day.

#It is peaceful. The protesters do not break windows, or attack police, or even yell obscenities. They are letting the cops be the violent ones, which garners them support and publicity.

#It models the change that is needed. By being all those things, it shows that people can run things democratically, inclusively, peacefully, and successfully – even in really large numbers.

The media don’t know how to cover this. They keep looking for leaders, and a single cause or demand, and when they don't find them they tell us we are disorganized. But that’s because they don’t get it. It’s not what they’ve seen before and know how to sell – it’s different!

I was even skeptical, until I saw it in action. If you can’t do that, check out this inspiring video from NYC (shot in Washington Square Park): – using consensus at NY General Assembly.

If you want to see how big this is globally, have a look at 120 different occupations are listed around the world; you can peek into any one of them. And that’s nowhere near all of them; Auckland (for instance) is not up there yet. You can check out #Occupy Auckland photos at:

Can we change the world this way? Time will tell. Many of us hope so, for the world cannot go on as it is now. Can the necessary changes be made some other way? I don’t see that happening anywhere, and that is exactly the point. The politicians are busy bailing out the huge corporations while they shove austerity down our throats. I don’t think anyone else has the will or the means to stop it, turn it around. It’s up to us.

Democracia real ya! – Real democracy now!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Occupy Auckland day 1

By David

We are the 99%, we are the 99%...’
 ‘And so are you!’ someone added, calling out to the many on-lookers.
 ‘Join us,’ others called, and people did.
Two French rugby supporters clapped their hands in approval. ‘We have the same problem in France’ they said. They too were the 99%.

There were many veteran protests of course (some perhaps wearing their ‘Returned Protester Association badges that were handed out at the recent celebrations of the 30th Anniversary of the Springbok Tour), as well as those drawn in via recently emerged movements like the student protests at Auckland University or the Mana party. There were those who had protested before (but not for a while) and many who were taking to the streets for the first time. 

All inspired by Occupy Wall Street, a protest that was more than just marching from A to B, the idea of being part of a global movement, the start of something new.

What are the issues?

The policy of not having a list of demands has infuriated many critics and more that a few supporters of the movement. But it seems to have worked.

Importantly, it has allowed groups and individuals to bring their own concerns, and I’m sure it will encourage people to think about how these diverse issues are linked to corporate domination. Many would agree with the sentiments of the Aucklander whose placard said ‘I’m here for so many reasons’.

Some of the reasons expressed in the placards and banners and Facebook comments:

* The wealth gap between the rich and the rest, growing ever wider as real wages stagnate or fall, while productivity and profits soar.

* The slow response and lack of preparation to the Rena oil spill, which was the long predicted consequence of the deregulation of the shipping industry.

* Unemployment, scapegoating of beneficences and the lack of opportunity even for skilled and educated.

* The expansion of coal mining and oil drilling, which threatens more oil spills, when accelerating climate change means we should be moving away from fossil fuel extraction and cutting CO2 emissions.

* The failure of the Crown to honour the Treaty’s commitment to tino rangatiratanga, leaving Maori dispossessed in their own land.

* And, last but not least, capitalism, corporate control and the corruption of democracy by the rich elite.


Despite the general assumption that the mainstream media would either not cover the protests or simply dismiss them, some of the coverage, particularly on the TV3 and NZ Herald websites has generally been good. Stuff (Dominion, Press etc) on the other hand has been poor, claiming splits and disorganisation in the Wellington movement and posting a rambling, poorly edited amalgam of local and international coverage focusing on a movie star’s alleged attendance at the Auckland protest.

Earlier in the day the Herald suggested that 2000 people were planning to attend the Auckland event, taking the number ‘attending’ on the Facebook event page literally. This is usually not a good idea. On the train into town a friend speculated that this was a deliberate ploy by the Herald to discredit the movement when far fewer turned out. I just assumed the reporter had never organised an event with Facebook before.

So what were we hoping for? As one even organiser put it, ‘the rule is usually divide by three and subtract 100’. That’s about 560 people. In the event there were clearly more than this. TV3 said ‘thousands’, and posted a video on their website. I would guess it was a very respectable 1000. The media doesn’t always under-estimate protests, although Christchurch demonstrators are adamant their was well over 100, not the 30 reported on Stuff.

Another questionable TV3 claim was ‘Anti-capitalism protesters have gathered in centres across the country’. This is true in the sense that there were many anti-capitalists activists at each of the protests. 

But it’s also clear and needs to be respected within the movement that many people are not comfortable with that label. Some are at pains to point out that they are against corporatism, not capitalism in general.

It’s important for anti-capitalists to respect that distinction, if the movement is to continue to attract a broad range of people.

At the same, we could point out that the concentration of wealth and power into hands of the 1% and their corporations is the inevitable result of capitalism and has been a central feature of the system for well over 100 years.

Even the highly regulated welfare state capitalism of the 50s, 60s and 70s was dominated by corporate monopolies, even if a powerful (but all too often bureaucratised) union movement ensured workers got a much higher share of the wealth their labour produced.

Workers rights under attack
The differences between then and now, the why and how the percentage of wealth and income going to the 1% has sky-rocketed was bought home in conversations I had with two of the many workers employed in around Queen Street for the duration of the Rugby World Cup.

Street cleaners, security guards, transport guides, and no doubt many more, are working long hours for low pay to make the World Cup a success.

One worker I spoke to had just a two-hour gap between finishing one shift and starting the next.

Another, who was able to join the protest for a few moments before his shift started, told me a co-worker sleeps in his car because there’s no time to go home between finishing one day and starting the next.

In 1987, when the first Rugby World Cup was played in New Zealand, union-negotiated awards would have ensured these workers got paid penal rates (time-and-a-half, double-time or even triple-time) for working on a weekend, working late at night and working more than eight hours in a day. Which might actually make the exhaustion of a double shift worthwhile.

As one cleaner said, ‘the rich get richer...’ And here’s how:

* In the public sector, cutting wages and contracting out helps central and local government to reduce business rates and cut taxes for the wealthy.

* In the private sector lower pay and higher workloads means corporations, like Dutch multinational First Security, gets to keep a far bigger cut of what it gets paid for the work it’s employees carry out.

The Occupy movement is all about not only highlighting injustices like these, but finding ways to do something about it.

At the very least we should invite the RWC workers down to the Aotea Square Occupation for a chance to relax, an opportunity to talk about their situation and maybe a more comfortable place to sleep.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

October 15: occupy Aotearoa, occupy everywhere

The Occupy Wall Street protest has inspired plans for more than 1000 similar events in the US and around the World. Many occupations are planned to begin on Saturday October 15. 
In Aotearoa New Zealand, protests and occupations are planned not just in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, but even in New Plymouth and Invercargill!

Targeting Wall Street – the symbolic heart of financial capitalism – the protest has become the centre of attention for all those unhappy that the interests of corporations, not the basic needs of people, dominate society.

A central message of the protest is that no society can be truly democratic when the richest 1% use their wealth and power to control the rest of us.

Their slogan ‘We are the 99%’ sums up the idea that only unity of the majority can change this situation and bring about a real democracy, where everyone participates and every voice is heard and respected.






Significant change in plan for December’s Gaza aid convoy

by Grant Morgan
Co-organiser of Kia Ora Gaza
13 October 2011

Almost three years ago Israel’s military onslaught in Gaza, codenamed Operation Cast Lead, killed over 1,400 mostly civilian Palestinians and laid waste to the coastal enclave.

Today, most Gazan families suffer from mass unemployment, medical shortages, polluted water, devastated housing, continual Israeli attacks and other dire conditions.

 Worst of all, Gaza’s 1.5 million population remains imprisoned by an illegal and cruel Israeli blockade.

Kia Ora Gaza is sending a four-person Kiwi Team on the sixth Gaza aid convoy organised by UK charity Viva Palestina. This multinational convoy aims to enter Gaza on the third anniversary of the start of Operation Cast Lead, 27 December.

“It is our intention with this convoy to try to increase the aid element,” says Viva Palestina in a statement issued yesterday. “We are also taking into account the fluid situation that has developed since the start of the Arab Spring and the fall of Mubarak.


“We are announcing therefore a significant change in the form that the convoy will take this time. Rather than travelling from London through Europe as before, we intend to purchase all aid and vehicles in Egypt itself.”

All volunteers, including our Kia Ora Gaza team, will travel to Egypt and join the convoy in Cairo on a date to be confirmed by Viva Palestina over the next few weeks.

This change in plan will play well with the Egyptian democracy movement which is hugely supportive of Gaza’s call to break the Israeli siege. It should help December’s convoy link up with Cairo’s democracy activists so there is a combined push to permanently open Egypt’s Rafah crossing with Gaza. 

If the Rafah Gate can be swung open to all people and goods going in and out of Gaza, then the Israeli siege will be mortally wounded. That would be the most fitting response by the world’s humanitarians on the third anniversary of Operation Cast Lead.

Your donations can bring us closer to this objective. Kia Ora Gaza has launched a $50,000 Gaza Appeal to fund our Kiwi convoyers and their aid to suffering Palestinians. Please donate generously to our moral and historic mission.

Go to the sidebar of to see how to donate.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Will capitalism survive the crisis?

by Geoff Fischer

Will the political institutions of capitalism survive the current economic
crisis? That is the question which many of us are being asked. The simple
answer is that those institutions (states or governing parties) which preside
over social systems in which wealth is evenly distributed are best fitted to
survive, while those which preside over divided, unequal societies face

So where does New Zealand stand? To answer that question we need to
understand the basis of the New Zealand state, which arose out of the
colonial project of the New Zealand Company in the early ninteenth century.
The New Zealand Company was a private immigration company founded for the
explicit purpose of establishing a class-based British-dominated colonial
society in the south seas. The colonial project has subsequently evolved into
the concept that goes by the name of "New Zealand Inc".

From quite early on the state (originally the imperial authorities in London,
and latterly the colonial government in Wellington) presented itself as a
moderating influence upon the colonial project. However there have been
crucial moments in history when the state has left off being moderate or
neutral, to overtly ally itself with the commercial interests of the New
Zealand Company.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

US occupations: links

The Wall Street occupation, now nearing the end of its third week has sparked a series of protests across the USA. Like the revolutionaries in North Africa and the Middle East, the protesters have made extensive use of the internet, social media and communication technology. Below are links to three websites where you can keep up to date with the protests.

Stories from those joining the protest:

We are the 99 percent. We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we're working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent”

A spotlight on Wall Street greed

Doug Singsen and Will Russell report from New York City on Occupy Wall Street.

September 28, 2011

New York police on a rampage against demonstrators from Occupy Wall Street (Brennan Cavanaugh)
New York police on a rampage against demonstrators from Occupy Wall Street (Brennan Cavanaugh)
DAILY PROTESTS and an ongoing park occupation in the financial district of New York City are gaining growing national attention as an expression of anger against Wall Street greed--and now the brutality of police against demonstrators, after the NYPD savagely attacked a march from the encampment to Union Square on September 24.

The hundreds of people who have participated in Occupy Wall Street since it began September 17 are protesting economic inequality and the power wielded by banks and big corporations in U.S. society. The occupiers say they represent the 99 percent of society that is fed up with the massive wealth and corruption of the top 1 percent.

The initial demonstration drew some 500 people to Bowling Green Park, site of the famous Charging Bull sculpture that is a famous symbol of Wall Street. Organizers had hoped for thousands to turn out, but activists continued with their aim of establishing an encampment--it was set up in nearby Zuccotti Park.

The protesters renamed the park Liberty Plaza in homage to Tahrir (Liberation) Square in Cairo--the symbol of this year's Egyptian revolution. In a stroke of happenstance, it turned out Liberty Plaza was actually the original name of Zuccotti Park.

The number of regular participants began to build over the week that followed, but interest turned intense after the September 24 police attack on marchers from the encampment.

More than 1,000 activists had started the Saturday with a march on Wall Street, before turning around and heading north, peacefully marching more than two miles to reach Union Square. There, they were met by a massive police resistance.