Byron Clark’s speech at Linwood Community Arts Center

Christchurch Central candidate Byron Clark recently spoke at a meeting at the Linwood Community Arts Center organised by ICENG (Inner City East Neighbourhood Group, Inc) and Te Whare Roimata Trust. Candidates were asked to speak on the three most important issues facing New Zealand and the three most important issues facing Christchurch Central.

It was not difficult to pick the three most important issues facing New Zealand that I will talk about tonight.

The first is inequality.

A recent OECD report showed that inequality has increased significantly in New Zealand since the mid 1980s, while in the same period, there has been a significant increase in income poverty. It is notable that for most of this twenty year period we have had Labour in government. Inequality is not the result of some people being paid more than others, its the result of most of the wealth created by workers being legally stolen by an exploiting class the produces nothing, while we are paid just a fraction of that wealth in wages. To help alleviate this, the Workers Party would remove all restrictions on workers right to organise and take industrial action for better pay and conditions. For the unemployed, who’s numbers are expected to increase and capitalism goes further into an inevitable downturn, we would reverse Nationals 1991 benefit cuts, something Labour hasn’t done after nearly a decade in power.

Secondly, Freedom, or lack there of. We support the unrestricted right of people to speak, publish and participate in the political process, one of our candidates has been forced to take unpaid leave from his job for the duration of the campaign due to an undemocratic provision of the Electoral Act that prevents public servants from standing without giving up their income for three weeks. But its not just public sector workers that have their free speech rights restricted, I could draw your attention to the recent case where a Warehouse employee was fired for a critical comment about her employer made on the Internet, or I could bring up the -pefectly legal- contract McDonald’s employees sign saying they won’t talk about their working conditions to the media, without risking dismissal. When you can take someones income away from them for speaking out, you are taking away their right to free speech.

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Byron Clark’s speech at St Albans Baptist Church

Speech by Christchurch Central candidate Byron Clark

Good evening everyone and thank you for the opportunity to speak to you all tonight.

I am here to encourage you to elect me as your member of parliament for Christchurch Central, and to give your party vote to the Workers Party. I want to make the point however that although you will be casting a vote, we do not live in a democratic society. I’m not talking about the 5% threshold that keeps minority views out of parliament, of the electoral funding model the reinforces the status quo, though of course these things are a concern.

I am talking about the existence in our society of one of the most totalitarian institutions humanity has devised- the capitalist workplace. While we may get a vote for a party and member of parliament once every three years, there is practically no democracy in the workplace. With no other way to make a living for the majority of the population, we are forced to sell our ability to work, with minimal control over where we will work, what hours, and what work we will do.

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Workers Party candidate wants socialist solution to cycling issues

Workers Party media release

The Workers Party’s Christchurch Central candidate Byron Clark is a keen cyclist, who once rode his bike from Christchurch to Picton, but differs with the mainstream cycling lobby on a few key points.

“Policies that would improve cycle lanes and encourage cycling have my full support” says Clark “but I have to disagree with the Cycling Advocacy Network (CAN) when they say we should spend less money on roads, there should be money there for every type of transport infrastructure our communities need, including cycle ways, roads, rail and buses.”

Clark also thinks CAN’s support for lower speed limits and more power for traffic cops is politically questionable. “Drivers don’t need legislation to show common courtesy to other road users. I think a big way we could improve road safety would be to ensure those who drive for a living have decent working hours and breaks, and reasonable amounts of time to complete their work. In fact even getting employers to ease up on lateness would help. All these things would allow drivers time to be more courteous on the roads, as well as being more alert and less fatigued.”

The Workers Party, which is contesting the party vote this year, also advocates free public transport and the repeal of the Local Government Act which requires many public transport services to be run as if they were commercial enterprises.

Workers Party student radio campaign ad

Click here to hear the campaign message currently airing on student radio stations around New Zealand.

Byron Clark’s speech at St Albans Community Center

Good evening everyone and thank you for the opportunity to speak to you all tonight.
My name is Byron Clark and I am the Workers Party candidate for Christchurch Central. This is my second time standing in this electorate. Three years ago I stood up and gave speeches as a young, long haired radical. Today, I’m obviously older and my hair is a little shorter, but I stand here as radical as ever.

I want to define that word as it is often misused. The word radical comes from the Latin word radix, meaning “root” and a political radical, like myself, is someone who advocates getting at the root of societies problems, and the root of the problem is capitalism, a system where those who must sell their labour to live are exploited for the benefit of a few elites. While its hardly common to hear people even talk about capitalism during elections in New Zealand, the recent turmoil in the finance sector of the world economy has meant there is a little more space for radical ideas. Indeed even The Times of London recently carried the rhetorical headline; “Karl Marx, did he get it all right?”

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Workers Party Not Hand Shakers

Workers Party media release

Workers Party Christchurch Central candidate Byron Clark is surprised at some of the reactions he’s got since refusing to shake hands with Labour candidate Brendon Burns at a recent candidates forum.

“There is an idea among some candidates it seems, that the election campaign is just a job interview style process with the electorate where we all wish each other well and hope we get picked, but I’m fundamentally opposed to the system Labour and National support, and I think principles are more important than what some see as ‘good manners'”

Clark noted the recent OECD report which shows inequality has increased drastically in the past twenty years.

“For most of that 20 years Labour has been in power, they have presided over the biggest transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich in this country’s history. I have no respect for a party that can do that.”

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.

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Workers Party announces party list for 2008 election

– Workers Party media release

Contesting the party list vote for the first time this election, anti-capitalist group the Workers Party has today named 14 candidates who will be standing on its party list.

“Our main campaign slogan for these elections is ‘workers should be running the country!’ and this is certainly reflected in our list of candidates,” says Workers Party national organiser Tim Bowron.

“All of our candidates are proven fighters whose only loyalty is to the working class who create all of the wealth in society – not the parasitical boss class that currently consumes most of it.”

Heading the list is Wellington factory worker and well-known musician Don Franks, who is also standing in the Wellington Central electorate.

Other candidates to feature prominently on the list include union organiser and Manukau East candidate Daphna Whitmore, schoolteacher and Christchurch East candidate Paul Hopkinson (currently suspended without pay by his employer for challenging the restrictions on public servants running for parliament) and Wellington Tramways Union President Nick Kelly.

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Workers Party Radio Address

Click here to listen to the Workers Party Radio Address for the 2008 election.

The music is by Wellington Central candidate Don Franks.

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.

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