Sunday 31 August 2008

Broad left parties - lessons from Germany

by Andy Newman
26 August, 2008
There has been some recent discussion on this blog about whether or not the circumstances over the last decade have been favourable for building the left.
If we look at England alone, and judge by results then we would reasonably deduce that the situation has been unfavourable.
But let us compare ourselves with Germany. Christian Rickens new book “The Left! The revival of an attitude to life” simply couldn’t have been written in Britain.

Analysis of Bolivia’s recall referendum and aftermath

The grassroots movement in Bolivia, given leadership by indigenous president Evo Morales, is challenging the rule of the market and instigating reforms based on human and ecological principles. Bolivia Rising has brought together a number of articles looking at the August 10 recall referendum and the historic vote in support of the process of change in Bolivia. 1. Bolivia: Historic Vote Confirms Will for Change - Federico Fuentes 2. Bolivia: Right-wing rebellion spurs left offensive - Federico Fuentes 3. Bolivia Gets the Change It Asked For - Mark Weisbrot 4. Morales' boost - Richard Gott 5. Bolivia's Post-Referendum Conjuncture - Jeffery R. Webber 6. The Bolivians cast their votes well - Hugh O'Shaughnessy 7. The trigger of South America - Hamid Golpira 8. Everyone a winner in Boliva vote ... or are they? - Eduardo Garcia and Simon Gardner 9. The Bolivia Recall Referendum: Final Numbers and Analysis - Inca kola news 10. Evo Morales calls on the opposition to unite efforts in favour of Bolivia 11. Bolivian social movements in Permanent Mobilization 12. Morales sends troops to Bolivia's oil, gas installations 13. Venezuela Pledges Strengthened Alliance with Bolivia FollowingMorales Referendum Victory

Fascism Anyone?

by Laurence W. Britt from Free Inquiry magazine August 2008 Fascism’s principles are wafting in the air today, surreptitiously masquerading as something else, challenging everything we stand for. The cliché that people and nations learn from history is not only overused, but also overestimated; often we fail to learn from history, or draw the wrong conclusions. Sadly, historical amnesia is the norm.

Will history repeat for the Greens?

by Auckland union activist "History never repeats, I tell myself before I go to sleep." This line of wishful thinking from a Split Enz hit song sums it up for the Greens leadership. Just as the Alliance leadership were dragged by their Labour government allies into supporting the vengeful invasion of Afghanistan against wide opposition in their membership ranks. The Greens leadership has been dragged into Labour's "pollution trading" scheme, against wide opposition in their membership ranks. The Greens leadership will be optimistically humming the Split Enz tune before they go to bed each night until the election. They'll be hoping like hell the voting public won't abandon them, as happened to the Alliance.

Friday 29 August 2008

'An attempt to justify the unjustifiable'

RAM - Residents Action Movement Media release 28 August 2007 RAM will be joining other social justice advocates on Saturday's protests in Auckland and Wellington against the arrests and charges of those targeted in last October's police "terrorism" raids that turned out to be not terrorism. "The state terror raids were later found by the Solicitor General not to be about 'terrorism' at all. The minor arms charges that were eventually laid would appear to be an attempt to justify the unjustifiable," said Grant Morgan, chair of RAM (Residents Action Movement). Below and attached is the communique that RAM will be issuing this Saturday at the protests: Solidarity with arrestees of state terror raids Statement by National Executive of RAM (Residents Action Movement) RAM condemns the clear abuses of state power which occurred during the 2007 anti-terror raids, particularly the blatantly illegal conduct by members of the NZ Police Force, and the nature of the legislation with which the accused were initially charged (the Terrorism Suppression Act), as grounds for objection by any reasonable citizen. The use of phone-taps and other contraventions of the rights of the accused during evidence gathering by the Police, and the manner of the arrests themselves, render the entirety of the raids incompatible with the values of a free, democratic society. The decision of the Solicitor General not to lay charges under the Terrorism Suppression Act, and the possibility of that act's repeal, are to be applauded as steps away from the slippery slope to US Patriot Act-style legislation which this country had been heading towards. However, the fact remains that numerous individuals were wrongfully targeted under this legislation, and in all probability remain under covert surveillance to this day. Those individuals charged with "minor" offences are likely to have their cases prejudiced by the circumstances under which the charges were laid. Obviously such a state of affairs is highly repugnant, and deserving of condemnation. With this in mind, RAM extends its solidarity to the persons unfairly targeted by the state apparatus. See also Global Day of Action 30 August - Drop the charges!

Union members flock to sign GST-off-food petition

EPMU and SFWU members sign RAM's popular GST-off-food petition at a mass union meeting in Manukau. 250 signatures were collected in short time.
People were very interested in RAM's new leaflet advertising the Greater Auckland stopovers of the People's Procession to Parliament.
To get copies of People's Procession leaflets email

Call 'pollution market' by its real name, says RAM

RAM - Residents Action Movement Media release 26 August 2008 Green co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons today claimed that her party had won "substantial changes" to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) following talks with Labour cabinet ministers. How accurate is this claim by Ms Fitzsimons? Going into the talks with Labour, the most loudly voiced concerns of the Green Party caucus were that the agriculture and transport sectors were not coming into the ETS early enough. Ms Fitzsimons today said that now "a target for agricultural emissions reduction before 2015 will be gazetted". But is this really a "substantial change" to the ETS? Not according to Grant Morgan, chair of the Residents Action Movement, better known as RAM, a broad left people's movement. "One very important word has been left out of the new agreement on the ETS," Mr Morgan observed. "That word is 'mandatory'. So long as a closer target for agricultural emissions reduction is not made mandatory, it's just a lot of hot air. It's government spin because agriculture does not have to meet the voluntary target. Sadly, the Greens are recycling Labour's spin and thus misleading public opinion." Nor will there be any hastening of the transport sector's entry into the ETS under the new deal struck between Labour and the Greens. "The transport sector will remain able to pollute with impunity until 2015," noted Roger Fowler, RAM's transport spokesperson. "As well, the Green caucus has consistently refused to support RAM's campaign over the last four years for free and frequent public transport as a boldly realistic way of slashing carbon emissions. We need to shift motorway funds into fare-free trains and buses, but the Greens won't agree because they know Labour strongly disapproves. They are putting their political pact with Labour ahead of our environment." Going on the evidence, neither of the two most loudly voiced Green concerns have been met by Labour's recent tweakings of the ETS. This is at variance with Green claims of "substantial changes", which appear to be mostly aimed at winning votes. "RAM calls on the Green Party leadership to reject the Emissions Trading Scheme as a whole," said Michelle Ducat, RAM's ecology co-spokesperson. "The solution to climate change does not lie in creating a market for pollution, where corporations trade their greenhouse gas credits and debits on a new stock exchange. This is merely placing the market in charge of the problem that they created in the first place." Ms Ducat's comments seem to be vindicated by the experiences of Europe. In many Western European countries, emissions trading schemes have been in place for years, yet official statistics reveal that greenhouse gas pollution has been increasing, not decreasing. Late last week, Green leaders called for responses on whether their party should support or reject the ETS. Yesterday a Green Party spokesperson revealed that the 2,000 email responses were split 50:50. Since most of these responses were likely to be from Green members, it seems their rank-and-file are split down the middle over the issue. "It is very worrying that the Green Party caucus refuse to call the Emissions Trading Scheme by its real name - a pollution market," said RAM chair Grant Morgan. "Big corporations around the world are raking in grotesque profits from trading in greenhouse gases which could kill off all life on our planet. Their pollution market is both immoral and scary." "RAM has put up a positive, robust alternative to the Green Party MP's who are giving away ecology as they cuddle up to Labour," said Mr Morgan. "In our RAM Plan, we put humans and our habitat before the profits and power of the big corporations who think they can dictate to everyone else on the planet." Backgrounders:

For more information, contact: Grant Morgan 021 2544 515 Roger Fowler 021 2999 491 Michelle Ducat 027 308 2521

Entrenching Te Tiriti o Waitangi

by Tariana Turia Speech to parliament 27 August 2008 On the 8th November 1918, Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana, received a vision to gather signatures for a petition, to take to Parliament, to convince Government to make Te Tiriti o Waitangi part of the law of the land. It is a vision still waiting to be realised.

Wednesday 27 August 2008

Maori Party call to address food poverty

Maori Party media release Tariana Turia, Co-leader of the Maori Party 26 August 2008 The dramatic 7.6% rise in food prices announced yesterday by Statistics NZ is but another factor in the hardship being endured by more and more New Zealanders says the Maori Party. "It is the basics that are hurting our families the most" said Mrs Turia. "We're not talking about luxury items - families have suffered price hikes of 89.4% for butter; 19.6% for bread; 59.3% for cheddar cheese; and 10.2% for milk ­ core items in the weekly shopping basket". "But the biggest worry has been the impact of a 3.6% increase in fruit and veges ­ an increase which low income families have been struggling to meet over this long winter" said Mrs Turia. "All the research tells us that under the persistent pressure of other costs such as fuel and housing, people are being forced to make a choice whether healthy food is worth it" said Mrs Turia."Massey University's Dr Emma Dresler-Hawke and Otago University's Professor Jim Mann have both come out with independent studies, concluding that if Government wants to make healthy food choices affordable, they must give serious consideration to removing the GST off food". "The Maori Party supports the call from the Public Health Association and the National Heart Foundation for GST to be removed from the nutritious basics of the New Zealand diet ­ fruit, vegetables, milk". "The excuses put forward by other parties, that it would be administratively challenging, or would involve some investment ­ are just excuses" said Mrs Turia. "If we are seriously concerned about the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders ­ and the Maori Party is ­ then taking GST off the basic food elements of the household grocery list ­ is an easy way to make a difference" said Mrs Turia.

'Road toll idiocy should be rejected outright' says RAM

RAM - Residents Action Movement Media release 25 August 2008 "National and Labour are showing themselves to be political twins when it comes to transport policy. Both parties want more extravagant motorways, and to pay for them they want to inflict road tolls on city drivers," said Roger Fowler, RAM's transport spokesperson. National MP Maurice Williamson's "exuberant" clammer for $50 a week toll charges, with support from Auckland mayor John Banks, has revealed National's real intentions: to build more roads and tunnels, and shove the cost onto road users. Labour's transport minister Annette King fully supports road tolls. Her only quibble is that the toll might be set "so high that people won't use the road". "This is a bit of a dilemma when you're embarking on a grand plan to spend over $7 billion on a maze of new motorways, bridges and tunnels in the Auckland region, as Labour is," said Roger Fowler. "The push for tolls from both Labour and National flies in the face of public opinion. Aucklanders have overwhelmingly rejected road tolls in all public opinion surveys." "Working families are already struggling to pay the bills. This toll madness will put them under intolerable pressure." "And it's double madness because of the seriousness of the climate change threat. All our energies should be going into reducing vehicle emissions, a major contributor to global warming." "Rather than piling idiocy on idiocy, we need immediate and bold political action on the twin problems of traffic gridlock and climate change," said Roger Fowler. RAM's common sense solution is for government cash earmarked for motorway expansion to be diverted into funding new networks of free and frequent public transport in main cities. This move, coupled with a carbon-offset charge on airport arrivals and hotel bookings, will be a major step towards rolling back carbon pollution and tackling global warming. This achievable and innovative action will catch the attention of other countries and could spark world-wide efforts to slash traffic congestion, oil consumption and vehicle emissions. At the start of this month the Thai government introduced free buses and trains in Bangkok for a six month trial to help low-income earners. (See Thailand: Free transit services by bus, rail launched to help low-income earners) "If a third world country like Thailand can afford free public transport, why can't New Zealand?" asked Roger Fowler. Free and frequent public transport in our main cities is one of RAM's "Ten Commandments" that will be the focus of RAM's election campaign. Backed by the enrolment of 3,000 new RAM members over the last few months, RAM is standing a substantial party list in the upcoming election as well a number of electoral candidates across the country. For more info, contact Roger Fowler: 021 2999491

Sunday 24 August 2008

Our most important goal could be ditching monolithic view of power

by Nandor Tanczos
1 April 2005
There is no doubt New Zealand is undergoing a process of constitutional change. Unusually, it’s not being forged in the fires of civil war, insurrection or coup d’etat, so we have the luxury of taking a more measured approach than some other nations.

Changing the game plan: the Foreshore and Seabed Act and constitutional change

by Dr Maria Bargh from New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online May 2006 In June 2003, when the Government announced its intention to legislate regarding the foreshore and seabed, two of the Government’s central claims were that they sought to protect the foreshore and seabed for “all New Zealanders” and that they were treating all New Zealanders in a fair and equal manner within the legislation and according to the procedures of parliament. In this article, I will firstly examine a number of events which have occurred since the passing of the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004 and which I argue bring into question the Government’s claims surrounding the foreshore and seabed legislation.1 Having the Government’s actions characterised as breaching Te Tiriti o Waitangi and national and international human rights laws and standards suggests a level of inadequacy in our constitutional arrangements. It is in respect of this inadequacy that a change in game plan appears now to be required. When players change the game plan in rugby they completely change the tactics of their play. I suggest that given the inadequacies of our current constitutional arrangements, a change is needed to provide for constitutional development and to adequately protect Te Tiriti, human rights law, and subsequently Maori.
UNITYblog has asked the question: Do we need a new constitution for Aotearoa? If you would like to have your thoughts on this issue posted on UNITYblog send to
See also:

Saturday 23 August 2008

Green Party dilemma - are we for emissions trading, or not?

On Tuesday 26 August the Green Party caucus is going to decide whether it will vote for Labour's emissions trading scheme, or not. But it seems the Green Party MPs aren't sure, so they want to hear from the public as to which way they should vote. See the NZ Herald articles, Greens leave decision with the public (22 August) and Greens get mixed views on emissions trading scheme (23 August). You can tell the party what you think by emailing RAM activists Peter de Waal and Roger Fowler have already emailed their thoughts to the Green Party. See Peter de Waal Carbon trading is a stupid idea and Roger Fowler Let's introduce free public transport - an example to the world More UNITYblog readers should email the Green Party. And if you want your contribution to be posted on UNITYblog as well, email to

Carbon trading is a stupid idea

by Peter de Waal RAM activist 22 August 2008 Carbon trading is a stupid idea and will never work for the simple reason that you can not expect the same "free-market" which created the greenhouse gas problem in the first place is going to be capable of reducing the world's emissions. Added to this, such schemes will only transfer more costs onto ordinary people as the business corporations will push up prices to pay for this nonsense. The only people to benefit from carbon trading will be the business corporations, the banks, the stock market parasites and their lawyers. The Greens need a much better policy centred around the ideas of using new carbon taxes to urgently build a new low- emission infrastructure here in New Zealand, which will also have the beneficial effect of helping keep society running as peak oil begins to bite hard and the 'normal' way of life becomes a distant memory. The Green Party also needs to clearly explain to the public the reasons why this infrastructural investment and extra taxation is necessary, particularly at a time when most families are struggling to survive. If the Greens persist with this free-market carbon tax trading strategy without it being directly tied to local low-emmission infrastructure investment such as free public transport, then the Greens can expect to get a real pasting in the elections this year. The Greens need to leave Parliament with it's jet-set lifestyle at 35,000 feet and put their feet back on the ground and listen to ordinary people who are struggling to buy food, pay bills etc. Green and left voters don't want a bar of this corporate carbon-trading nonsense. The question is: has the Green Party got what it takes to stand up to the business corporations and the Labour Party on this question or have they become captured and sold out to the free-market? Sent to Green Party (22 August 2008)

Let's introduce free public transport - an example to the world

by Roger Fowler RAM activist & electoral candidate 22 August 2008 Emissions trading is a daft and counter-productive concept. There is one thing all those genuinely concerned with global warming and climate change agree on: we need to take urgent effective action that's big and substantial to have any prospect of averting global disaster. These phony trading schemes will only give a false appearance of "doing something", while letting the big polluters off the hook and making things worse. Carbon taxes should be ploughed into funding fare-free public transport in the cities to introduce a massive upgrade of public transport infrastructure with new, modern emission-free buses, ferries and electric trains. Make them free and frequent to get the bulk of people out of their cars. Government cash earmarked for motorway expansion should be immediately diverted to help fund such a decent free public transport network in all the main cities. This achievable and innovative action will catch the attention of other countries and could lead a world-wide move to dramatically cut traffic congestion, precious fuel wastage, and emissions everywhere. New Zealand could be the first country to introduce fare-free public transport, and set a great example for other nations. Now that would be “big, substantial, urgent effective action” that could have a real chance of rolling back pollution and global warming! Sent to the Green Party (22 August 2008)

Friday 22 August 2008

A newer world order

by Lee Sustar
21 August 2008
The Russia-Georgia war has revealed a new balance of power in the world – and exposed the hypocrisy of U.S. politicians and the media who decry the imperialism emanating from Moscow, but embrace it when it's made in the USA.
See also:

Thursday 21 August 2008

Bolivia: Historic Vote Confirms Will for Change

Evo Morales, president of Bolivia
by Federico Fuentes
16 August 2008
With 99% of the votes counted, Bolivia's first indigenous president won a crushing 67.43% majority in the August 10 recall referendum. Surpassing the 53.7% he received in the 2005 national elections, which until then was the highest vote recorded by a presidential candidate in Bolivia's history, the result confirmed the broad support for the Morales government's project for wide-ranging social change.

Venezuela's young militants: An antidote to the weaknesses of the revolution

by Tamara Pearson from LINKS - International Journal of Socialist Renewal 30 July 2008 We stayed up until 2 am two nights in a row - students from a range of faculties, and young people from various movements and revolutionary organisations. In the campsite of La Mucuy in the Andean city of Merida, we discussed and debated the role of youth in Venezuelan’s revolution and the construction of a youth wing of the PSUV (United Socialist Party of Venezuela), while around us clouds hugged the buildings and mountain slopes, horses slept in the foreground and mosquitos made meals of our legs and faces.

Tuesday 19 August 2008

Against the Market Economy: Advice to Venezuelan Friends

by Robin Hahnel Monthly Review January 2008 Robin Hahnel is professor of economics at American University in Washington DC and currently visiting professor at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. This article is adapted from a speech the author gave at the Ministry for the Communal Economy in Caracas, Venezuela on July 13, 2007, attended by both their employees and employees from the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development. Robin Hahnel was a guest of the Centro International Miranda in Caracas for its July 2007 Workshop in Socialism and Human Development. During his stay, we arranged for him to speak at the Ministry for the Communal Economy. This ministry not only oversees and supports the significant Venezuelan cooperative sector and provides training in the principles of cooperation but has also moved recently to develop “socialist enterprises,” which work closely with communal councils. Since one of the principal goals of these organizations is to attempt to avoid the infection of the market, Robin’s talk was oriented toward providing them with important weapons for the battle of ideas. It will be obvious, however, that his demystification of the wonders of the market can be a weapon not only in the Venezuelan struggle but in the movement for liberation globally.
- Michael A. Lebowitz (October 31, 2007)
I am here to salute you – because you are attempting to do what nobody has ever succeeded in doing before – help autonomous groups of workers and consumers plan their interrelated activities democratically, equitably, and efficiently themselves. You have already created the elements of what you call the “social economy” – worker-owned cooperatives, communal councils, municipal assemblies, participatory budgeting, subsidized food stores, health care clinics, and nuclei of endogenous development. Now you want the cooperatives and communal councils to display solidarity for one another rather than treat each other as antagonists in commercial exchanges. And sooner rather than later you want the benefits of this kind of participatory, socialist economy to encompass the entire economy and all Venezuelans.

Putting to bed the trappings of NZ's colonial past

by Pete A new constitution would be interesting to contemplate. It would probably go hand-in-hand with New Zealand becoming a republic, but that discussion would involve what we replaced the existing inadequate arrangement with. It's definitely about time that the British Crown was ditched as a controlling influence over Aotearoa/New Zealand. While some may call for the retention of the Treaty of Waitangi - I don't see this as really necessary either. It would be more useful to put to bed such trappings of New Zealand's colonial past. A new constitution might include mandatory state control of vital infrastructure and resources, along with nationalisation of key assets such as ports, communications, transport facilities. State provision of health and education resources and abolition of the user pays mentality should be included, as well as consideration of military training for those not employed or in training. UNITYblog has asked the question: Do we need a new constitution for Aotearoa? If you would like to have your thoughts on this issue posted on UNITYblog send to See also:

Sunday 17 August 2008

Small parties lose their gloss, giving National a big lead

by Auckland union activist According to recent poll results Labour remains steady, but National has gained at the expense of the smaller parties. While Labour's support has not moved down, Labour has failed to capture the imagination of new grassroots voters for their centrist politics. And their chances of governing again are slipping as voter support for the smaller parties, particularly the Greens, appears to be weakening. In my opinion where the smaller left leaning parties have failed, is by becoming captured by the Labour government, dragging them to the right. This happened most spectacularly in the past with the Alliance, and now we see the same process occurring with the Greens. This has obviously made them indistinguishable from Labour to grassroots voters. Potentially the People's Procession to Parliament, which will be delivering the message to the politicians that people don’t want their food taxed, could tap into the mood for change for the left. RAM, a people’s movement, which will be standing a full list of candidates for the party vote and a number of electoral candidates, could be an attractive option for grassroots voters disillusioned with the other parties. To beat National we need RAM to succeed. See Nat's Romping Ahead from the Dominion Post, 16 August 2008. Visit RAM's website

A revolutionary constitution based on Tikanga Maori

UNITYblog has asked the question: Do we need a new constitution for Aotearoa? If you would like to have your thoughts on this issue posted on UNITYblog send to Our first response to the question is from Penehamine Netana-Patuawa. Tena koutou katoa. E mihi ana ahau i te Matua nui i te Rangi. Ko Mahuhu ki te Rangi te waka. Ko Ngati Whatua raua ko Te Roroa nga iwi. Ko Taita raua ko Waikaraka nga marae. Ko Maunganui te maunga. Ko Kaihu te awa. Ko Waipoua te ngahere. Ko Omamari te moana. Ko Raroa toku Papa. Ko Betty toku Mama. Ko Penehamine Netana-Patuawa taku ingoa. No reira tena koutou tena koutou tena no tatou katoa.Any written constitution must be revolutionary in nature. The word revolution can be divided into two parts: Revolve; Evolution. Each part is separate, yet linked. Revolve, to turn completely around. Evolution, to progress and change.

Saturday 16 August 2008

Thailand: Free transit services by bus, rail launched to help low-income earners

from MCOT, Malaysia 1 August 2008 A new Thai government-sponsored package containing six measures designed to assist the low-income public, including both free bus and train fares for six months, was launched on Friday. Acting State Railway of Thailand (SRT) governor Thawil Samnakhon said on Modernine TV Friday morning that he expected the free rides which are now being offered on third-class and non-air-conditioned trains would increase the daily passenger volume between 15-20 per cent as compared to previous ridership. Assessment of traffic routes which are most heavily used by travelers will be conducted so that the SRT could increase its services to cope with passenger demand, he said. The SRT is expected to lose about Bt250 million in revenue, Mr. Thawil said, but the government will help pay for the losses. Meanwhile, Pinet Puapattanakul, director of the state-run Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA), said his agency had already prepared 800 buses for to serve the increased volume of Bangkok passengers. Mr. Pinet said bus services would remain unchanged although the bus agency does not collect fees. Service assessment will be made this week which could be used for improving bus services in future. All six measures are being implemented from Friday, except for the reduction of excise tax on fuel which began July 25. The measures are aimed at boosting the Thai economy, which has become sluggish due to soaring oil prices, and also to assist the poor and low income wage-earners. The measures concerned are cuts in excise taxes on fuel, postponing an increase in prices for liquefied petroleum gas used by private householders and the free use of tap water by households using less than 50 cubic metres per month. The government will absorb the cost. The other measures are the free use of electricity of less than 80 units per month by households, with the government shouldering the expense, while for households using less than 150 units per month the government can pay half the bill, free travel on 800 ordinary buses operated by BMTA on 73 routes within Bangkok and its outlying areas, and free travel on third class railway carriages. Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej has said the measures will cost the government about Bt46 billion (US$1.4 billion).

NBR, Robert Fisk, the media and Tuhoe

by Auckland union activist The National Business Review (NBR) attempt to belittle international prize winning journalist Robert Fisk for meeting with Tuhoe activists at a Glen Innes Marae, indirectly labeling him a traitor by calling him "Beirut Bob", a clear reference to such names as, Hanoi Hanna, or Tokyo Rose. However the NBR seems to target most of its bile at the rest of the New Zealand media for daring to stray from the anti-terror script and accuses them of "rapturous media sycophancy". Coming from one of the Washington's biggest war on terror sycophants in this country, it is, excuse the pun, a bit rich even for the NBR. Realising they may have lost this particular media battle,"Pity the nation" is the NBR's final bitter comment. Obviously the NBR are uncomfortable with any journalistic spotlight being shown on this particular scab on New Zealand's recent history, and would be far happier if their pro-war right wing journalism was the only voice allowed. The NBR berates the rest of the media here for not obeying the unwritten rules of self censorship that the 'International War on Terror' demands. See NBR's article Fisky business (15 August 2008)

Friday 15 August 2008

UNITYblog Question: Do we need a new constitution for Aotearoa?

UNITYblog is going to begin asking regular questions on important political, social and ideological issues. We will be posting the answers we receive up on UNITYblog. The goal is to generate some lively and intelligent debate that will help us understand the world today and what we need to do to make the transition away from the market towards a human centred society. The first UNITYblog question is:

Do we need a new constitution for Aotearoa?

If so, what might a new constitution look like? And how do we go about achieving a new constitution? Your answers can be any length, short or long. Send to They can be anonymous, or provide a name and how you wish to be identified. All contributions must comply with UNITYblog policy of not posting sectarian, silly or personal content. I look forward to your responses. In solidarity, Vaughan Gunson UNITYblog editor email: ph/txt: 021-0415 082 See also

Monday 11 August 2008

Bolivarian University of Venezuela: Five Years of Alternative Education and Social Transformation

from Bolivarian News Agency (ABN), Caracas
2 August 2008
This institution has a student registration of 189,000 students in its main branches and the so-called municipal villages (satellite classrooms); 2,900 technicians have graduated between 2006 and 2007. At the end of the first semester of 2008, a further 1,900 students graduated.
The Bolivarian University of Venezuela (UBV, Spanish acronym) has reached its fifth anniversary working for an alternative paradigm aimed at building new forms of social interaction.

Russel Norman: speech to parliament on FTA with China

This trade agreement between New Zealand and China fails to protect the sovereignty of the democratically elected Government of New Zealand, and it places significant restrictions on the future ability of the New Zealand Government and Parliament to pass regulations to protect the people and environment of Aotearoa New Zealand.
There are many reasons why the New Zealand Government should not have signed this preferential trade agreement with China, not least of which is the fact that New Zealand signed this agreement while China was involved in the murderous oppression of the people of Tibet. It is also of grave concern that this agreement has no binding labour or environmental standards. The lower wages and standards in China will effectively be a non-tariff barrier to fair trade, giving corporations that pollute or pay inhumane wages a competitive advantage over those that do not.

Sunday 10 August 2008

A People's Constitution for Aotearoa?

Could the Treaty of Waitangi be incorporated into a re-founded people's constitution of Aotearoa?

by Vaughan Gunson from UNITY journal July 2008 Last year the United Nations produced a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People which had been 24 years in the drafting. It was finally presented to the UN General Assembly to be ratified. The vote: 143 for and only 4 against. The countries that opposed this reasonable, but far from radical, declaration were the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Maori in this country were outraged. Dr Pita Sharples, Maori Party co-leader, said it was “shameful to the extreme, that New Zealand voted against the outlawing of discrimination against Indigenous People; voted against justice, dignity and fundamental freedoms for all.” The reason Helen Clark’s Labour government gave for voting against the declaration was that the definitions of self-determination extended to the exclusive control of territorial resources. This, they said, threatened the sovereignty of the nation state. Echoing claims made by former National Party leader Don Brash in his infamous “race speech” of 2004, the government claimed that the UN declaration was “discriminatory” and could see “separatist minorities breaking up countries”.


Friday 8 August 2008

Federico Fuentes on the regional elections in Venezuela

Hear Federico Fuentes, Green Left Weekly correspondent in Caracas, speaking on community radio about the lead up to the regional elections this November in Venezuela, and the prospects of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). Go to

Thursday 7 August 2008

Rumblings of industrial unrest spark warnings for National

by Matt McCarten from NZ Herald 3 August 2008
Something is stirring among the workers. I can't quite put my finger on it yet, but if National does win the next election I don't think it will share the same passive relationship Labour's had with New Zealand's working poor. I'm sure this has a lot to do with the fact Labour introduced four weeks' annual leave, effectively abolished youth rates, brought in the Working for Families package, raised the minimum wage by $3 in the last term and generally gave workers more legislative protections. But it seems although the economy is weakening, workers' expectations are not. Employers have had a great couple of decades in which industrial power has been in their favour. It's been up to the current Government to pass pro-worker policies, largely with the support of the Greens, Maori and New Zealand First parties.

Wednesday 6 August 2008

The Beijing 2008 Olympic Logo

Australian Climate Activists Plan Week of Protests

Call issued by the organising committee for the July 5 Climate Emergency rally in Melbourne

Climate change is already occurring, much faster than the world’s scientists have predicted. Recent data including the very real possibility of the arctic sea-ice melting by September this year demonstrate that this is a climate emergency.

We are concerned that the Australian government’s proposed Emissions Trading Scheme will be full of loopholes and by the government’s own admission will allow emissions to continue rising for some years. We believe such incremental measures are unacceptable: We need greenhouse emissions to start to fall immediately and sharply.

To begin to solve the problem we need action on many fronts including:

  • No new coal;
  • Massive public spending on renewable energy;
  • More public transport not new freeways;
  • End logging of old growth forests.

We call for a national week of protests across Australia at the Spring Equinox, in the week beginning September 21. This week of action can highlight the summer melt of the Arctic ice and other worrying signs that demand urgent measures to de-carbonize the economy from state and Federal governments.

We ask climate change campaign groups and networks and all environmentally concerned organizations across Australia to work together for a coordinated and effective week of public protest around these themes.

Solar Power Breakthrough

by Environmental News Service (ENS)
5 August 2008

Within 10 years, homeowners could power their homes in daylight with solar photovoltaic cells, while using excess solar energy to produce hydrogen and oxygen from water to power a household fuel cell. If the new process developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology finds acceptance in the marketplace, electricity-by-wire from a central source could be a thing of the past.

Latest UNITY journal: ‘Tino Rangatiratanga mo te Ao Katoa. Self-Determination for the Whole World’


5 Editorial: More than “kia ora”

10 Marx, Engels and Lenin on the national question
NORM DIXON, Democratic Socialist Perspective (Australia)

27 Thirty years since Bastion Point
ROGER FOWLER, RAM co-organiser

34 Culture matters
PAUL MAUNDER, playwright

44 The Maori Party in their own words

51 Why Socialist Worker supports the Maori Party
GRANT BROOKES, Socialist Worker (New Zealand)

59 RAM endorses the Maori Party
OLIVER WOODS, RAM candidate for Auckland Central

61 RAM’s Indigenous Charter (draft)

65 Tuhoe: a long history of resistance
Dr RAWINIA HIGGINS, Victoria University of Wellington

80 Back in the mists of fear

83 October 15th: the colonial context

85 Venezuela: from indigenous resistance to solidarity and liberation
LISA MacDONALD and LARA PULLIN, Australian Venezuela Solidarity Network

95 A people’s constitution for Aotearoa?
VAUGHAN GUNSON, Socialist Worker (NZ)

116 Australian government forces Aborigines off their land
JAY FLETCHER & PETER ROBSON, Green Left Weekly (Australia)

119 Feedback: contributions from Ondine Green, Vaughan Gunson, and Peter de Waal

To purchase a copy for $5 contact Len, email or phone (09) 634 3984

There are four issues of UNITY journal published a year. Postal subscription inside NZ $25 for one year. Offshore fastpost $NZ40. Make cheque out to 'UNITY'. Send to Socialist Worker, Box 13-685, Auckland, New Zealand.

Saturday 2 August 2008

Why doesn't the EPMU's Work Rights Checklist include the right to strike?

EPMU national secretary Andrew Little. His lips are sealed on NZ workers being denied their most basic right: the right to strike.

by Auckland union activist

The EPMU have released their work rights list. This list, which the EPMU describe as a basic checklist, omits the most basic of all work rights. I have read this list carefully, and missing even from the footnotes and small print, is the right to strike.

This is amazing, as the EPMU has been recently hammered because of the restrictions of the right to strike in defence of their members at Air New Zealand and Fisher & Paykel.

I wonder why on earth this basic right of workers, which is enshrined in the UN charter of workers rights, has been glaringly omitted from the EPMU’s Work Rights.

This omission raises some serious questions of the EPMU leadership.

Did the EPMU leadership leave out this most basic of work rights from their list because the EPMU leadership think that the right to strike is not an important work right? Do they really think workers and unions can make any gains, or even defend themselves, without the right to strike?

Is the EPMU leadership comfortable with the ban on strikes in the ERA?

Or is this omission because they don't want to embarrass the Labour Party, who have refused to repeal the restrictions on the right to strike which were at the heart of the ECA, and have instead increased the restrictions on the right to strike?

At some level I think the EPMU leadership probably believes in each one of these reasons for not championing the right to strike. But the most important one is the last.

See EPMU’s Work Rights Checklist

Friday 1 August 2008

Solar Power to the Masses

Solar cells getting better and cheaper fast as oil prices soar, soon it will cost as much to get electricity from the sun as from the grid, and distributed small scale generation is the way ahead.
- Dr. Mae-Wan Ho

ISIS - Institute of Science in Society
Press Release
31 July 2008

Solar tops the world’s new renewable energies

As oil prices soar, solar power has been undergoing a boom, along with other renewable energies, which attracted more than US$100 billion investment last year in new power and heating capacity, manufacturing plants, research and development. Investment in solar power capacity and manufacture amounted to US$31.3 billion, while US$33. 4 billion was invested in wind.

Australia & NZ face worse crisis than America

by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard from The Telegraph 31 July 2008 The world's financial storm has swept through Australia and New Zealand this week amid mounting signs of contagion across the Pacific region. Many fear the economic party in Australia will end badly Financial shares were pummelled in Sydney on Tuesday after investor flight forced National Australia Bank (NAB) to slash a £400m bond sale by two thirds. The retreat comes days after the Melbourne lender shocked the markets by announcing a 90pc write-down on its £550m holdings of US mortgage debt, an admission that it AAA-rated securities are virtually worthless. In New Zealand, Guardian Trust said it was suspending withdrawals from its mortgage fund owing to "liquidity difficulties in the market". Hanover Finance - the country' third biggest operator - last week froze repayments to investors. The company said its "industry model has collapsed" as the housing market goes into a nose dive. Some 23 finance companies have gone bankrupt in New Zealand over the last year. It is now clear that the Antipodes are tipping into a serious downturn. Continue at