Monday 29 November 2010

US business profits outside of the financial sector are shrinking

by Pat O'Dea

For the capitalists the recession is officially over when growth, (profit) returns to the economy.

Big profits are being made from the continuing financialisation of the economy. (You know the thing that caused the huge speculative bubble that began the recession in the first place).

Unfortunately this huge profit taking in the financial sector is not being matched in the rest of the capitalist economy. Profits being made in the rest of the business world are shrinking as the data in the following blog article shows:

Sunday 28 November 2010

Bomber Bradbury: The speech I would have given for a new left wing party

On his TUMEKE! blog,Martin ‘Bomber’ Bradbury says he would have given the following speech to welcome the launch of a new left wing party, the possible launch of which has been widely speculated on during Matt McCarten’s Mana campaign.

The passage quoted at the start of Bradbury’s post is from Chris Trotter’s latest column on Stuff.

Left’s utopia must have room for aspiration
[by Chris Trotter]
OPINION: Another Aotearoa Is Possible – that’s the hopeful title of a conference getting under way in Mangere tomorrow morning.

This grand political hui – featuring some of New Zealand’s leading leftists – was conceived with not one, but two agendas. Or, to employ the steely jargon of yesterday’s revolutionaries: a Maximum Programme and a Minimum Programme.

For the Maximum Programme to prevail, radical Unite Union leader Matt McCarten had to attract 5 to 10 per cent support in last Saturday’s Mana by-election. If he’d ended the evening with 1200 to 1500 votes, Te Wananga O Aotearoa’s Mangere campus – the conference venue - would almost certainly have witnessed the birth of a “New Left Party”.

Unfortunately for the conference organisers, Mr McCarten ended up attracting the support of just 3.6 per cent of Mana voters. This failure to surpass even the 5 per cent MMP threshold means that tomorrow’s conference agenda will default to its Minimum Programme: “A day of dialogue with activists against injustice and inequality”.

We live in extraordinary times. The current global economic crises is unlike anything since the 1929 stock market collapse which spawned the great depression. We face a crises ‘of’ capitalism as the unregulated neoliberal greed of corporations has been allowed to replace managed Keynesian economic theory. In the 1970s the real economy and the financial economy were evenly valued but 40 years of deregulation, low tax, free market dogma has seen the real economy valued annually at $8 trillion while the financial economy is valued at $330 trillion, that disconnect between reality and the inflated bubble world of finance has gone pop, we must reconsider the rules of the game because the unsustainable consumer culture of SUVs, plasma TVs and cosmetic surgery all on the credit card game is over.

Friday 26 November 2010

Message of condolence to families of Pike River miners

Along with the many other New Zealanders and people from around the world who have sent messages of support, we would like to offer our heartfelt sympathy to the families, fellow miners, and all those communities on the Coast effected by the shocking disaster at the Pike River mine.

We have been deeply saddened at the terrible loss of 29 irreplaceable lives.

We have shared your frustration in the delays in attempting a rescue, hoping against hope for a joyful outcome, while fearing the terrible consequences we now know.

It should never be a condition of earning a living that workers, such as your staunch and courageous men, should have to put their lives at risk. Yet this is what they do daily, and have done for generations. It is these dangers which has bound mining communities together on the Coast into a resilient, tenacious and caring family.

Words are inadequate to express our sorrow. We know you will hang on to your memories of your loved ones.

Our thoughts are with you all. We hope your men are returned to you soon and that the cause of and responsibility for this disaster is soon established.

Yours in solidarity,

Socialist Worker central committee

If blood be the price of your cursed wealth, Good God! we have paid in full

From the Grey River Argus, January 8, 1920, page 2

The Grey River Argus, was a West Coast newspaper owned by mine workers. It printed the lyrics to the song above in 1920.

You can hear the late Utah Phillips give his rendition in the post below.
The song, with words attributed to an “unknown proletarian” was popularised by the Industrial Workers of the World or Wobblies in the USA.

The Wobbly’s message of “One Big Union” to organise workers to wage uncompromising struggle against the exploiting class found widespread support among West Coast miners and many other workers in Aotearoa, in the early years of last century.

The poem / song is a reworking of Rudyard Kipling’s “The Song of the Dead”, a 1893 tribute to the sailors sacrificed so the British Navy could rule the waves.

Utah Phillips sings ‘We Have Fed You All A Thousand Years’

Monday 22 November 2010

Venezuelan workers march for more participation

Banners read, “Neither Bureaucracy nor Capitalism, Worker Control” and 
“Socialism is Won Fighting.” (Source:

By Juan Reardon

Thousands of Venezuelan workers took to the streets of Caracas on Tuesday, November 9th, demanding greater participation in their country’s nascent socialist economy.

Carrying banners that read, “Neither Capital nor Bureaucrats – More Socialism and More Revolution,” thousands of workers, union representatives, members of leftist political parties and other popular organizations took their demands to the Ministry of Communes and Social Protection, the National Assembly and the offices of the Vice Presidency.

Venezuela’s National Workers’ Union (UNETE), the organizers of the demonstration, called for the immediate passing of a new and radical labor law, the resolution of pending collective labor contracts, and the empowerment of workers within their unions, especially at worksites that now belong to the network of recently nationalized industries.

Saturday 20 November 2010

Labour holds Mana, McCarten fourth

By David

Labour’s Kris Faafoi has won the Mana by-election with 10,397 (46%) of the 22,387 votes cast. However, National’s Hekia Parata was close behind, with 9,317 (42%).

Third place went to the Green Party’s Jan Logie with 1,493 (6.7%). With Matt McCarten, standing as an independent backed by his Unite union coming in forth with 816 (3.6%). Also on the left, Kelly Buchanan of the Alliance gained 37 votes, despite endorsing McCarten.

McCarten’s result was better than any of the radical left (Alliance, Workers Party or RAM) candidates achieved in the last general election. However these were poor results themselves and I think many will be disappointed with this result.

During the campaign, there has been much speculation about McCarten’s plans to launch a new left party. This result will not provide much of a boost for this idea.

On the positive side however, McCarten’s campaign has seen a large group of radical left activists working together, it has highlighted some significant social issues and fired the imagination of many of the left who, at least for the duration of the campaign are taking the idea of a new party more seriously.

Friday 19 November 2010

A Futures Commission to forecast what the world's rich will do

In conclusion to his article Ruling on Behalf of Wall Street's "Super Rich": The Financial End Time has Arrived, US left-wing professor Michael Hudson writes:
What we need is a Futures Commission to forecast just what will the rich do with the victory they have won. As administered by President Obama and his designated appointees Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke, their policy is financially and fiscally unsustainable. Providing tax incentives for debt leveraging – for most of the population to go into debt to the rich, whose taxes are all but abolished – is shrinking the economy. This will lead to even deeper financial crises, employer defaults and fiscal insolvency at the state, local and federal levels. Future presidents will call for new bailouts, using a strategy much like going to military war. A financial war requires an emergency to rush through Congress, as occurred in 2008-09. Mr. Obama’s appointees are turning the U.S. economy into a Permanent Emergency, a Perpetual Ponzi Scheme requiring injections of more and more Quantitative Easing to to rescue “the economy” (Mr. Obama’s euphemism for creditors at the top of the economic pyramid) from being pushed into insolvency. Mr. Bernanke’s helicopter flies only over Wall Street. It does not drop monetary relief on the population at large.
The unsustainability of the US economy that Hudson writes about is leading many people, including Socialist Worker, to the conclusion that capitalism is entering its end time, however long that might last. The global response of socialists must be to lead a broad mass challenge to neo-liberalism right now and plan ahead for a seismic shift to a post-capitalist world.

To find out more about these ideas read Grant Morgan's compelling essay BEWARE! THE END IS NIGH - Why global capitalism is tipping towards collapse, and how we can act for a decent future’.

Death of Bert Allison

by Len Parker

We have just heard of the recent death in Palmerston North of long time socialist and working class fighter Bert Allison in his 88th year. Bert succumbed to cancer.

Bert had a lengthy history in the working class and never gave up his belief in a socialist alternative or in the role of the working class in achieving it.

He was recognized by his friends and associates as a staunch fighter; even as he became increasingly incapacitated with failing eyesight and ill health he held to his convictions.

He kept in touch with local and international events throughout his life as an avid reader of The People's Voice, Socialist Worker, UNITY and other left-wing journals and as a student of Marxism.

Bert started his working life as a grocery-boy before working as a miner in the Huntly coal mines during the Second World War, then as a Gold miner in the Waihi Martha mines.

He had a spell picking tobacco in the South Island with his brother Percy. They then worked for a period as surveyors on the West Coast. Percy went on to work at Mangakino and was involved in the strike there.

Bert was locked-out  during the historic 151 days of the 1951 Waterfront dispute when the government and bosses tried to break the workers by starving them back to work under draconian anti-working class Emergency Regulations.

When Bert could no longer read himself his daughter read to him so he could keep up with events.

We take this belated opportunity to extend our condolences to all Bert's family in the loss of this working class stalwart.

Thursday 18 November 2010

Video: Matt McCarten at the Alliance conference

Matt McCarten speaking at the 2010 Alliance Party conference.

This video is part one of three, to watch the rest go to Socialist Worker’s YouTube page:

Wednesday 17 November 2010

Video: Tax Justice talk at Alliance conference

Socialist Worker’s Vaughan Gunson spoke to the Alliance Party conference about the Tax Justice Campaign, which is jointly sponsored by Socialist Worker and the Alliance.

This video is part one of four, to watch the rest go to Socialist Worker’s YouTube page:

Saturday 13 November 2010

Interview: Advancing solidarity with Gaza

Members of the latest Viva Palestina convoy celebrate after going through the Rafah crossing into Gaza
 Members of the latest Viva Palestina convoy celebrate after going through the Rafah crossing into Gaza
The fifth Viva Palestina convoy to break Israel’s siege of Gaza drove through the Rafah border crossing with 147 vehicles carrying 380 people from some 30 countries—and humanitarian aid worth some $5 million.
The convoy departed from London on September 18 and traveled 3,000 miles through France, Italy, Greece and Turkey before arriving in the Syrian port town of Latakia, where it was joined by two other convoys—one from Morocco and Algeria, and another that originated in Doha and came through the Gulf States and Jordan. After spending 16 days in Latakia while carrying out frustrating negotiations with Egyptian authorities, the convoys traveled on October 19 to the port city of El Arish, and from there drove into Gaza.
Kevin Ovenden, the director of the Viva Palestina convoy, spoke with Eric Ruder about the convoy’s significance for the Palestine solidarity movement. 

Thursday 11 November 2010

Matt for Mana: against homelessness & empty housing

Matt McCarten’s Mana by-election campaign has taken up the issue of housing, identifying many empty state houses in the electorate, while families are homeless.
The following video outlines the problem:

 The report from TV3 gives there take on what happened when some of Matt’s supporters took action:

Four arrested in Mana by-election stunt
By Liz Puranam
3 News

Four supporters of a political candidate in the Mana by-election have been arrested tonight after they took over an empty state house.
The men were protesting against what they say is the uncaring nature of big government but is it little more than a political stunt?

Mana candidate Matt McCarten and his supporters arrived at the Porirua police station this evening after they had been told four campaigners were arrested and charged with being on a property without permission.

“People are saying they can't get any response, that they can't get houses but then what we have is one protest and suddenly the housing corporation swings into action within minutes and people cleaned off and stuck in jail,” Mr McCarten says.

The prominent unionist and his supporters took over the Porirua state house today, saying they wanted to fix it up so a couple who have been living in a garage can have a home.

“These places are empty. There are people who are living in garages; it's real,” he says.

Carolyn Harvey was to be the new unpaying tenant. She and her partner have been living in a nearby garage.

“I sit in here and I think, ‘when's it going to end, you know, when's it going to end’,” she says.

Mr McCarten's supporters say they have counted 27 vacant state houses in Porirua so they had no problems simply opening this one up to install Ms Harvey and her husband.

But another candidate in the Mana by-election says this is a political stunt; Carolyn Harvey and her husband are with their daughter this evening while the four men arrested are still at the Porirua police station.

Housing New Zealand issued a statement this afternoon saying Mr McCarten's action was illegal and unfair on others waiting for a house and anyone on the property would be served with a trespass notice.

They told 3 News tonight that police have taken their own action; going one step further and arresting them, which they say is entirely appropriate under the circumstances.

Wednesday 10 November 2010

‘NZ Not for Sale’ campaign to oppose trade agreement

Media release New Zealand Not For Sale Campaign

The New Zealand Not For Sale Campaign will be formally launched in Christchurch on November 11, in conjunction with the launch of Professor Jane Kelsey’s book on the Transpacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement.

The NZ Not For Sale Campaign has been set up to oppose the Transpacific Partnership because it is against New Zealand’s best economic, environmental and social interests.

“The trade agreements we already have are linked with high international debt, job losses, asset stripping, risky speculation, increasing sales of land to overseas owners, running down public assets and services, and loss of tino rangatiratanga and national sovereignty’’, says the Campaign Secretary, Dr Christine Dann.

Tuesday 9 November 2010

Climate Activists to Dairy Summit: ‘Get a real job on a real farm’

Media Release: 9th November 2010

Camp for Climate Action Aotearoa invites the corporate farmers of the World Dairy Summit to get a real job on a real farm

In response to yesterday’s Federated Farmer’s press release telling protestors of the World Dairy Summit in Auckland to “Get a real job like farming” Camp for Climate Action Aotearoa suggests that Federated Farmer’s listen to their own advice.

Camp for Climate Action Aotearoa spokesperson Gary Cranston says “we support the actions of small scale farmers all over the world who are already living sustainably, feeding their communities and defending their climate-friendly farming practices from mega-scale agribusinesses.”

“As a stream of greenwash spews from the World Dairy Summit into our rivers small-scale farmer’s livelihoods are not only threatened by climate change, they’re also threatened by industrial agriculture itself and the kind of money-making false solutions that the world’s agribusiness giants are pedalling at the UN climate negotiations and through John Key’s Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases.”

Monday 8 November 2010

PUBLIC MEETING: Tax Justice and Left Unity

Invitation to discuss:

Tax Justice & Left Unity

7pm, Thursday 11 November
@ Socialist Centre, 86 Princes Street, 
Onehunga, Auckland

Intro speaker: Vaughan Gunson, Tax Justice campaign coordinator
& Socialist Worker national chair

The meeting is hosted by Socialist Worker.
Light refreshments and hospitality will be served.

  • Grassroots people are struggling. Food prices are going through the roof. There's simmering anger at National's GST hike. Will GST off food be a cut-through political issue next year?
  • Can the demands of the Tax Justice campaign, to remove GST from food and tax financial speculation instead, be won? Would this put a significant dent in the neo-liberal economic model?
  • 20,000 signatures have been collected for the Tax Justice petition. How can we build on this and break the campaign into national consciousness?
  • What role can the Tax Justice campaign play in popularising an economic alternative to neo-liberalism?
  • Could a popular Tax Justice campaign be one element in helping to bring about the much needed unity of left forces in NZ?
These and other questions will be discussed after a short intro by Vaughan. The emphasis will be on open discussion and networking. The discussion won't be restricted to the demands and strategy of the Tax Justice campaign. Wider input on the challenges of building a left alternative to neo-liberalism, and what vehicles might best achieve this, are encouraged. Bring your two cents worth!

For more info contact,

Vaughan Gunson
021-0415 082

*Join the Tax Justice campaign Facebook group.

Tax Justice advisory to broad left

3 November 2010 

20,000 signatures collected for Tax Justice petition

The Tax Justice campaign has collected over 20,000 signatures for a parliamentary petition calling on GST to be removed from all food and a tax placed on financial speculation instead.

The petition’s demands are connecting with a broad range of people angry at the economic hardships they're being made to bear. The rising cost of food is for many New Zealanders a big issue, especially when real incomes levels for most people are either stagnant or falling. (See Council of Trade Unions media release Real incomes falling, 7 October.)

The factors behind the positive popular reception to the Tax Justice petition are going to intensify in the months ahead. The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research has predicted that food price inflation will hit 10 per cent by the end of the year. (See Rising prices to offset October tax cuts, 1 September.)

The stretched budgets of grassroots people, particularly when it comes to the most basic of life’s necessities, food, requires that progressive forces offer solutions, both immediate and longer term.

It’s the view of Tax Justice campaigners that the “common sense” demand to remove GST from food, coupled with a tax revenue replacement that targets the mega-rich, has the potential to become a cut-through political issue for the left.

Invitation to get behind the Tax Justice campaign

In the spirit of greater cooperation and unity amongst leftists, unionists and other supporters of justice for grassroots people, we’ll be approaching a number of organisations and groups over the coming weeks about getting behind the Tax Justice campaign.

The two groups who have initiated the campaign, Socialist Worker and the Alliance Party, are very interesting in discussing how we can collectively grow the campaign into a bigger political force, and what kind of organisational structures might be established to best achieve this.

Already the Tax Justice campaign has received solidarity from members of the Maori Party, Green Party, and the Labour Party, as well as from members of Grey Power and a number of trade unions. Increasing the level of broad and active support for Tax Justice will be essential if we're going to force a major change to neo-liberal tax policy, which is what removing GST from food and the introduction of Financial Transaction Tax would undoubtedly represent.

The potential to break the Tax Justice campaign into national public consciousness is there, it just needs a big enough pool of active supporters to make it happen.

If you would like to discuss with us the prospects for broadening the groups and organisations actively involved in the Tax Justice campaign, please contact Vaughan Gunson, campaign coordinator. Email or phone 021-0415 082.

Two upcoming public meetings

There are two upcoming public meetings where the way forward for the Tax Justice campaign, along with other issues relating to left unity, can be discussed. They are:

Tax Justice & Left Unity
7pm, Thursday 11 November
@ Socialist Centre, 86 Princes Street, Onehunga, Auckland

Intro speaker: Vaughan Gunson, Tax Justice campaign coordinator. Discussion to follow.

For more details, contact Vaughan, or 021-0415 082.

There Is An Alternative - Progressive Economics for the 21st Century
3pm, Saturday 13 November
@ St Johns Church Hall, cnr of Willis & Dixon Street, Wellington

Speakers: Bill Rosenberg (CTU economist), Vaughan Gunson (Tax Justice campaign coordinator, Socialist Worker national chair). Chaired by Andrew McKenzie co-leader Alliance Party.

For more details, contact Kay Murray,

Both these meetings are open to all leftist, unionists and supporters of justice for grassroots people.

Labour MP to present petition to parliament in 2011

Su’a William Sio, the Labour Party MP for Mangere, has offered to present the current Tax Justice petition to parliament sometime in 2011, most likely prior to the General Election.

Having a South Auckland MP present the petition to parliament will give it real political weight. We extend our thanks to Su’a for making this offer.

For further up-to-date information on the Tax Justice campaign go to our website The petition can be downloaded there.

And if you’re on Facebook join the ‘No GST on Food’ page. Over 5,500 people already have, making it one of New Zealand’s most popular grassroots political campaigns on Facebook.

Tax Justice campaigners will be working hard for the remainder of 2010 and into 2011. Help us make Tax Justice a big issue next year.

In solidarity,

Tax Justice executive committee:

Grant Brookes (Socialist Worker)
Kay Murray (Alliance Party)
Vaughan Gunson (Socialist Worker)
Victor Billot (Alliance Party)

How Obama got from hope to hopeless

In the U.S. Barack Obama’s Democratic party have suffered a big defeat in the mid-term elections, loosing control of the House of Representatives.

Alan Maass from the US Socialist Worker newspaper argues that when Obama swept to victory two years ago, the Democrats were handed a golden opportunity to transform U.S. politics for years to come—and they blew it.

President Obama during a meeting with Cabinet members (Pete Souza)

BARACK OBAMA thinks you really ought to be more patient.

“It took time to free the slaves,” he said in a speech at the end of September. “It took time for women to get the vote. It took time for workers to get the right to organize.”

Well...he’s certainly right about that. The struggles of the past that changed the world didn’t happen overnight.

But Obama wasn’t just making an observation about history. This was his excuse for how little the Democrats have done to meet the expectations of their supporters—they need more time.

The real question is: More time for what? The Democrats haven’t moved at even a snail’s pace on so many of the issues that motivated millions of people to support them in 2008—keeping people under threat of foreclosure in their homes, creating good-paying jobs, reducing the staggering inequality between rich and poor, reversing the shrill intolerance of the Christian Right, ending America’s wars and occupations around the globe.

Saturday 6 November 2010

NDU’s Robert Reid at Fairness at Work rally

Robert Reid, General Secretary of the National Distribution Union, speaks at the cross union rally in Manukau on October 20th 2010, as part of the national day of action for fairness at work. More on the campaign here:

Thursday 4 November 2010

Hillary Clinton comes bearing poisoned chalice for NZ

By Murray Horton


As if 2,000 earthquakes haven’t been enough punishment for Christchurch, now we’re going to have Hillary Clinton visiting us (and Wellington) this week.

A major focus for her NZ visit  will be the negotiations which are well underway for the US and a number of other countries to join an expanded Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (currently comprising NZ, Chile, Brunei, and Singapore, and known as the P4 Agreement), with 2011 as the target to seal the deal. This will be used as the backdoor means to secure a US/NZ Free Trade Agreement.

Tuesday 2 November 2010

Report on Tax Justice '10,000'

by Vaughan Gunson
Tax Justice campaign coordinator

18 October 2010

To protest GST going up to 15% on 1st October the Tax Justice campaign organised a nationwide push for signatures to the petition calling on parliament to remove GST from food and tax financial speculation.

As well as getting more signatures for the petition – at a time when resentment towards GST was going to be high – the aim was to expand the network of active campaign supporters and get national media coverage.

20,000 signatures collected to date

After our efforts Friday-Sunday (1-3 October) following the GST hike we’ve collected 20,000 signatures for the petition. That puts the Tax Justice campaign in the serious category.

The bulk of signatures were collected over the three days at organised petition stalls in Northland, Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, with many more contributions coming in from individuals in other centres (still being reported). See the photo essays on

Getting close to an additional 10,000 signatures in a short space of time was a good effort by Alliance Party and Socialist Worker members, with the help of a small number of Tax Justice supporters.

The evidence on the streets was that the GST hike had created simmering resentment. A common sentiment expressed was that National’s tax cuts were “rubbish”. Many people were aware of the unfair nature of the income tax cuts, which have seen big tax cuts for the rich and virtually nothing for low and middle income earners once the GST increase is factored in.

For instance, someone earning $15 an hour will be $4.13 better off from the tax changes, while someone earning four times as much – $106,080 annually – will have $43.08 more in their pay packet. Your average CEO earning $265,200 will be richer by a whopping $153.92 a week (Source: Bill Rosenberg, Council of Trade Unions economist and policy director).

The tax changes have also come at a time of rising living costs and stagnant wages. This makes the GST hike particularly painful for people struggling to make ends meet. Inflation is resulting in declining real wages for workers and beneficiaries. (See Council of Trade Unions media release Real incomes falling, 7 October.)

It was the simmering resentment at the unfairness of National’s tax changes, combined with an outlet in the form of the Tax Justice petition, that saw people flocking to petition tables. Large numbers of signatures were often collected in a short space of time. The evidence is clear: the demands of the Tax Justice petition are connecting with grassroots people.

The factors behind the popularity of the Tax Justice petition are going to intensify in the months ahead. New Zealand Institute of Economic Research chief economist Shamubeel Eaqub predicts food price inflation in New Zealand to hit 10 per cent by the end of the year, which will wipe out National’s meager tax cuts for low and middle income earners. (See Rising prices to offset October tax cuts, 1 September.)

Grassroots people are going to be affected by this in a big way. The cost of food is already an issue that people feel very strongly about. The anger is going to intensify in the months ahead and into 2011. We need to be there with the solution that our twin Tax Justice demands provide.

Tax Justice in the media

As expected there was significant media attention focused on the 1st October tax changes and GST increase. A string of Tax Justice media releases tied to the promotion of the Double Day of nationwide signature collecting saw the campaign get some national media coverage. This included:

* Interview with Tax Justice media spokesperson Victor Billot on TVNZ Breakfast on 28 September (See

* Interview with Tax Justice campaign coordinator Vaughan Gunson that featured in a Newstalk ZB story on GST, which was played on radio stations throughout the country.

* NZPA article (30 September) which was widely published in newspaper and online news sites. (See

* Two stories on the TV3 website: GST activists welcome Labour’s change of heart (27 September) and Govt accused of hypocrisy over GST exemptions (29 September).

* An interview with Vaughan Gunson for Radio NZ that was part of their coverage of the GST increase.

* Plus a number of short and longer articles in local community papers throughout the country.

These media breakthroughs were encouraging, but we’ll need significantly more coverage to really break the campaign into national consciousness. We must continue to explore options for getting the media’s attention, but there are no short cuts. The main thing we have to do is get heaps more signatures, so that the media will be forced to take notice.

Expanding the Tax Justice network

Any campaign which aims at achieving tangible success must seek to broaden the network of active supporters, as well as forming alliances with other organisations in pursuit of the goal. “Tax Justice 10,000” helped this process along.

In the course of promoting the Double Day of signature collecting we encountered more individuals who wanted to help. A few dozen people contacted us by email offering their support for the campaign or to enquire about the petition. New volunteers helped collect signatures in Kerikeri, Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch.

In the days either side of 1st October there was a sharp increase in activity on the No GST on Food Facebook page. In the space of a week the number of people who “like” the page almost doubled to 5,000. (As a result of all the activity on the Facebook page there was a big increase in hits to our website, which peaked on 30 September with 310 views.)

Through the Facebook page dozens more people have volunteered to help collect signatures. We’re starting to receive completed signature sheets, boosting our signature total higher every day.

But if we’re going to chalk up some really good numbers for the Tax Justice petition for the rest of this year and into 2011, then we must continue to encourage more volunteers to get actively involved. And crucially, we need other organisations to join the campaign.

Leading up to and including the Double Day of signature collecting there were discussions about the Tax Justice campaign with individuals representing different political organisations.

A Green Party activist and council candidate helped collect signatures in Whangarei, and there were discussions with other Whangarei-based Green Party members about broadening the campaign. In Lower Hutt, a member of VAN (Valley Action Network) organised a petition stall at a local market. Members of the International Socialist Organisation (ISO) in Dunedin helped collect signatures for the petition.

In Auckland, the Tax Justice campaign was invited by Labour Party MP for Mangere Su’a William Sio to attend a Labour Party organised event at the Mangere Mall. The petition proved very popular with grassroot Labour members and was circulated by local organisers of the Labour Party. At the event was Labour leader Phil Goff and Labour list MP Ashraf Choudhary. They both came over to the Tax Justice table and discussed the campaign with our team. Though Labour’s new policy is GST off fresh fruit and vegetables only, the two politicians expressed solidarity with our campaign and happily posed for a photo (see photo essay).

Labour MP to present Tax Justice petition to parliament

In conversations with our team in Mangere, Su’a William Sio offered to present the Tax Justice petition to parliament. We have accepted the offer from Su’a and will liaise with him to present the petition to parliament sometime in 2011.

Having a South Auckland Labour MP present the petition to parliament will give it real weight, and will potentially open doors with other organisations to come in behind the campaign.

The broadening out of people and organisations interested in supporting the campaign through active participation or through expressions of solidarity is very encouraging. In the first instance it reflects the popularity of the campaign – especially the demand to remove GST from food – amongst grassroots people. Nothing would be possible without this reality.

Broad cooperation to achieve our goal

It’s only through broad cooperation and alliances between different organisations and groups that we can hope to affect a major change to neo-liberal tax policy, which is what removing GST off food and the introduction of Financial Transaction Tax would undoubtedly represent.

Broad cooperation around the Tax Justice campaign is achievable. In the coming weeks we will contact some big organisations about supporting the Tax Justice campaign. Our focus in the first instance will be on getting support from Grey Power, trade unions and churches.

The twin demands of the Tax Justice petition have the potential to attract grassroots and institutional support in a big way. The challenge now is to keep the campaign moving forward by expanding our network of active Tax Justice campaigners and collecting more and more signatures, so that by the sheer weight of numbers we break into national consciousness.

In the weeks and months ahead the Tax Justice team will be announcing new initiatives to propel the campaign forward. If you’re already an active supporter of the campaign, a big thank you for your efforts so far. If you want to get active in the campaign then contact us straight away.

If you haven’t already done so please distribute the petition around your networks and print off copies for friends, family and workmates to sign. And send them back to us as soon as possible.

The Tax Justice campaigners will be working hard for the remainder of 2010 and into 2011. Help us make Tax Justice a big issue next year.

Thank you.

Vaughan Gunson
Tax Justice campaign coordinator
021-0415 082