State snooping on activists

Yesterday Rob Gilchrist, who had moved in activist circles for many years, was outed as a spy in a feature article in the Sunday Star Times. Ironically Gilchrist was sprung by his girlfriend who discovered suspicious emails while helping him sort out some computer issues.

Gilchrist had spent a decade spying on an assortment of protest and activist groups, including the Workers Party. As far as we are aware he was forwarding to the police WP discussion emails for around 10 months in 2003-2004. He was taken off the party discussion group on 1 March 2004.

We reprint below an article on the expansion of the state’s snooping powers from The Spark 9 February 2005.

Civil rights fast disappearing

-Daphna Whitmore

Allegations in 2004 that the Secret Intelligence Service have been spying on political figures, including Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia, have been met with loud denials from the Prime Minister. As much as Ms Clark would like the public to think the allegations are preposterous it wouldn’t be the first time the SIS has gone beyond its extensive powers.

In 1996 an SIS agent was caught carrying out an illegal break-in and burglary of the home of political activist Aziz Choudry. A court later awarded Mr Choudry compensation for the illegal actions of the SIS. The government then promptly passed a law to legalise such break-ins, giving the SIS further powers to carryout home invasions. It was one of many instances in recent years where civil rights have been abolished in the name of “national security”.

[Read more…]

Why we need fewer cops

Talk given by Workers Party Manukau East candidate Daphna Whitmore at an election meeting at Otahuhu College, Auckland 29 October 2008

I want to talk about law and order and police in South Auckland. The Workers Party believe we need fewer cops, not more cops as most of the parties are saying.

I work for a union that is organising worksites such as McDonalds.

For the past month McDonald’s workers have taking strike action. There have been over 40 strikes in the past 30 days. These McDonald’s staff work hard; they are on their feet all day and get just over $12 hour. It’s a poverty wage and the hours of work are uncertain, going up and down each week.

McDonald’s workers at Auckland Airport went on strike a couple of weeks ago. It was a perfectly legal strike and they stood outside in the carpark to hold a peaceful picket. But the security bosses at the airport tried to stop the strikers and called the cops who were there in minutes.

[Read more…]

Workers Party condemns fresh charges against activists

Workers Party media release

The Workers Party has condemned the decision today by the Crown Prosecutor to lay fresh charges of ‘participating in an organised criminal group’ against 5 of the social justice activists arrested in last year’s so-called ‘anti-terror’ raids.

“Having failed to make the terrorism charges stick, the NZ Police and Crown Prosecution are now trying to smear these Tūhoe and social justice activists as nothing more than a criminal gang,” said Workers Party national organiser and list candidate Tim Bowron.

“The real criminal gang here are the members of the NZ Police force who last October terrorised the people of Ruatoki, and who continue to act as the hired thugs of the ruling class on a daily basis in this country by routinely breaking up union picket lines and workers’ demonstrations,” he added.

The Workers Party, contesting the party vote for the first time this election, calls for the abolition of Labour’s “anti-terrorism” legislation along with all other laws that restrict working peoples’ freedom of speech and activity. It also campaigns actively against all forms of racial oppression and inequality.

ENDS

Official Workers Party statement on October 2007 ‘anti-terror’ raids available here.

Educators, trade unionists support suspended teacher

Workers Party media release

Over 30 prominent academics, teachers and trade unionists have signed an open letter in support of suspended school teacher Paul Hopkinson, standing as the Workers Party candidate for Christchurch East in the upcoming election.

Despite campaigning only in his own time (weekends and school holidays), Mr Hopkinson was told that due to a provision of the 1993 Electoral Act concerning
the political activities of public servants he would have
to take unpaid leave for the three weeks leading up to
the 2008 general election.

Mr Hopkinson considered this an undemocratic restriction
on his participation in the political process, as having a
partner and two children to support and not having any
other financial resources to fall back on he simply cannot
afford to take unpaid leave. He also felt that it places
small minor parties like the Workers Party at a
disadvantage, as unlike the major parties Labour and
National they cannot afford to pay their candidates’
wages for the duration of the election campaign.

After refusing to take unpaid leave, Mr Hopkinson has
become the first teacher in New Zealand to be
suspended without pay by his employer.

Below is the open letter in support of Hopkinson and list
of signatories. This document is also available online
here.

[Read more…]

Clark rewrites history to conceal Labour started the Dawn Raids in the ’70s

Workers Party media release

“Remember the National Party initiated dawn raids in the 1970s” Ms Clark told reporters on the election campaign trail in South Auckland on 23 October.

“Either Ms Clark is ignorant of the facts or she is knowingly concealing the truth” says Daphna Whitmore, Workers Party candidate for Manukau East. “Labour was in government from 1972 until 1975, and the dawn raids on Pacific Islanders began in 1974”.

A quick check of the Samoan history section of the Encyclopedia of NZ confirms that indeed Labour began the raids nearly two years before National came to office.

[Read more…]

Workers Party candidate fights unjust law

The Spark recently spoke to Workers Party Christchurch East candidate Paul Hopkinson, the first school teacher to be suspended under the undemocratic provisions of the 1993 Electoral Act.

Under the current law most public servants (including teachers) must take unpaid leave for the three weeks between nomination and polling day. Paul Hopkinson refused to take unpaid leave when requested, and as a result has been told by his employer that he is being suspended without pay.

[Read more…]

Help us fight this undemocratic law!

– Spark Financial Appeal

Workers Party Christchurch East candidate and school teacher Paul Hopkinson has been suspended under the undemocratic provisions of the 1993 Electoral Act.

Under the current law most public servants (including teachers) must take unpaid leave for the three weeks between nomination and polling day. Paul Hopkinson refused to take unpaid leave when requested, and as a result has been suspended without pay.

Paul is not going to knuckle under to this law, and he will press on regardless as part of our campaign to make workers’ issues hi-viz this election. But Paul is a working guy with a family who can ill afford three
weeks off the payroll.

Paul is doing his bit to fight for what’s right and he deserves backup. The Workers Party will do what it can to fill the gap, but we are a small group with few financial resources.

We’re appealing to all workers and democrats who hate injustice to help us fight this undemocratic provision of the Electoral Act.

Please send donations to Paul Hopkinson Appeal, c/o PO Box 10-282 Dominion Road, Auckland.

Don’t Talk to Cops

US lawyer on why it’s our right to remain silent, and why we should exercise it.

And a cop backing him up:

First teacher to face suspension without pay for challenging the Electoral Act

Workers Party Media Release

Workers Party Christchurch East candidate Paul Hopkinson is the first school teacher to face penalties for challenging the undemocratic provisions of the 1993 Electoral Act.

Under the current law most public servants (including teachers) must take unpaid leave for the three weeks between nomination and polling days.

Hopkinson has refused to take unpaid leave and as a result has been told by his employer that he will be suspended without pay.

“I think that it’s outrageous that just because I’m employed by the state I am not allowed to participate in the democratic process and stand for parliament without being subjected to severe financial penalties,” says the sole breadwinner for a family of three.

[Read more…]

Candidate subject to discriminatory law

– WP Media Release

Workers Party candidate for Christchurch East, Paul Hopkinson, may be forced to step aside as a candidate due to a discriminatory clause in the 1993 Electoral Act.

Because Paul Hopkinson is a school teacher in a state school, he is subject to a clause which could require him to take unpaid leave for the duration of the election campaign.

“This clause is onerous and discriminatory because it prevents people from participating fully in the electoral process,” he said.

“Unless you have the backing of a large wealthy political party, or are independently wealthy, you are unable to participate. I should not have to take leave; I should not have to choose between standing in the elections and supporting myself and my family” he added.

If he was employed by a private school, he would not be subject to the clause.

“This is an important issue because this anti-democratic clause means thousands of New Zealanders are prevented from becoming fully involved in the elections,” he said.