Mana Party foundation hui and Te Tai Tokerau bye-election

 Mike Kay, Workers Party Auckland and Mana Te Raki Paewhenua (North Shore) branch

Following Hone Harawira’s election victory, Mana convened a foundation hui of activists in Whangarei on 26 June. I will summarise the proceedings of the hui conducted in English below, followed by an assessment of the bye-election, and a political appraisal of the prospects for Mana.

In Whangarei Matt McCarten set the tone by stating: “We did not just win a bye-election, we changed the nature of politics. There’s a lot of people out there who are not sure what they want, but they know what they don’t want. The entire political elite and establishment were against us – there were four anti-Hone editorials in the Herald. We represent danger because we cannot be bought.”

Annette Sykes described Mana as “a Kaupapa Māori party that transcends race, whanau and hapū… also a party of the workers.” She said Mana should work with unions and left activists. On Te Tiriti, she proposed abolition of the 2014 deadline for settlements and opposed the Crown “deciding who our leaders are.” On environmental issues, she opposed the Emissions Trading Scheme on the basis that it does not make the polluters pay. In Education, she proposed that Te Reo become a compulsory language. She talked of the need for Mana to embrace Pākehā as well, and oppose neo-liberal policies that “put profit before people, bankers before workers and privatisation before the Treaty.” [Read more...]

New Zealand state continues to bully Fiji

The following, by Byron Clark, was first published in the July issue of The Spark

“Can we manage the tensions between Fiji and Tonga?” that was the question posed in the press release promoting the interview journalist Guyon Espiner was conducting with Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully on the June 12 episode of TVNZ’s Q&A. The question is loaded with political assumptions; first of all the term ‘we’ assumes that there is some universal ‘New Zealand interest’ shared by both the audience of Q&A, and those that McCully and the government he is part of represent. Second, it is assumed that ‘we’ have the right to intervene with the affairs of two other sovereign nations.

The diplomatic dispute between Fiji and Tonga began when Tonga granted citizenship to Tevita Mara after he fled Fiji. Mara was the Army Chief of Staff -the fourth highest position in the Fijian military- and controlled an infantry of approximately 500 soldiers. In May he was charged with mutiny and accused of attempting to overthrow the government. He has been declared a fugitive under Fiji’s Extradition Act. [Read more...]

The Arab Spring: A new future for North Africa and the Middle East

The following is by Josh Glue, a Workers Party member in Hamilton, and was first published in the July issue of The Spark. It is adapted from a presentation given by Josh for the pannel discussion – the international situation- at the national conference of the Workers Party, Workers Power 2011, held over Queens Birthday weekend.

Mass demonstrations in Tahrir Square, Egypt, during February

Situation

Since the beginning of 2011, protests, uprisings and revolt have rocked the Middle East, from Tunisia to Egypt, from Algeria to Libya, Syria to Bahrain. Working people, as well as students, activists and professionals, have risen to demand democracy, often challenging decades of dictatorial rule from corrupt governments backed by Western imperialism and funded by oil wealth.

Protesting against crippling unemployment, systemic government corruption, rising food prices, and brutal repression, the people have spoken out for control over their lives, in many cases facing harsh state violence for standing up for their rights. [Read more...]

Post offices and Kiwibank outlets under attack

The following article was first published as a  guest contribution to the July issue of The Spark, by trade unionist and Alliance Party co-leader Victor Billot. Billot is also spokesperson for the campaign to Save Dunedin Metro Post Shop and Kiwibank.

New Zealand Post are closing and downgrading a number of post offices around New Zealand, including Kiwibank outlets. One of these is the Dunedin Metro Post Shop and Kiwibank, in the Exchange, Dunedin’s central business district. Another nearby suburban post agency in Mornington was recently closed as well. A community campaign was mounted to stop the closure in Dunedin. It has been an interesting campaign. The users of the post office are a diverse mix, ranging from business people and conservative professionals, office workers, unionists, all the way through to parents, beneficiaries and the elderly. However most people have come to similar conclusions as to why they are opposed to the closure.

They see the decision as being made by remote managers, with little concern or understanding of local communities. People were angered at the lack of interest from NZ Post, and how the closure would create problems for them. The Post Shops that local people will now have to use are already crowded and busy. [Read more...]

Australian socialists on border controls

From the July 2011 issue of The Spark

On World Refugee Day, the 19th of June 2011, hundreds of people marched in Melbourne under the slogan “unite to end mandatory detention.” After the march Ian Anderson who is on the editorial team of The Spark caught up with leading members of the Socialist Party of Australia, Mel Gregson and Anthony Main.

The Spark: So the movement against mandatory detention of refugees has made headlines in recent months. Could you go a bit into the background of this?

AM: Australia has practiced mandatory detention of refugees since 1992, when it was introduced under the Labor government. Refugees arriving by boats are placed in detention centres while their claims are processed. Often this takes months, and in some cases 6-7 years to process, while the refugees are kept like animals. At various points the mass anger and frustration over these brutal conditions have led to protests and riots. There is also a small but growing solidarity movement on the mainland.

MG: The Howard government tried to negate Australia’s obligations under the UN treaty by processing refugees offshore, at detention centres on Christmas Island, in Nauru, Papa New Guinea and elsewhere. The Rudd government was elected in 2007 on a platform of a “more humane” refugee policy, but ultimately reverted to a similar policy to the Howard government. Most recently, the Gillard government announced a policy of sending refugees to Malaysia. Malaysia is not a signatory to the UN convention, and even deploys state-sanctioned militias to cane refugees. There are numerous deaths and tens of thousands of canings a year. [Read more...]

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