Oceania

The maintenance workers responsible for safety checks on Auckland Transport passenger trains have been locked out for 30 days, from 13 May, following industrial action. The dispute came about because of the difference in pay between the workers – contracted by Spanish multinational CAF (Construcciones y Auxiliares de Ferrocarriles) – and Kiwirail workers. The technicians receive about $7000pa less than Kiwirail workers doing the same job. The workers are asking for a 13 percent pay increase over two years. The counter-offer from the company is 5.5 over two years.

Strike action was taken by over 50,000 teachers throughout New Zealand on 29 May to demand a 16 percent pay increase and improved working conditions. Their strike is the result of a breakdown in pay talks between the New Zealand Educational Institute, the Post-Primary Teachers Association; and the government Ministry of Education.

The Liberal-National Coalition, after being behind in the polls for years, has won the Australian general election. With 78, seats the Coalition have a majority in the lower house to pass legislation, but will have to rely on cross-bench support in the Senate (upper house) to get their legislation through.

The barbaric attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand by a far-right fascist terrorist – indiscriminately shooting men, women and children, killing 50 and injuring many more, live streaming his bloody actions as he carried them out – comes at a time of deepening economic crisis and heightened social and political tensions around the world. All decent human beings are rightly condemning the attack, but we have to ask ourselves: why are such acts of terrorism taking place, and what can be done to end this barbarism?

This month was significant in Australian politics, because it was the first time since 1929 (a period of over 90 years) that the sitting government lost a vote in the House of Representatives. The vote was over Australia’s controversial immigration policy, and the bill – proposed by the opposition party and opposed by the government – would make it easier for sick refugees held offshore to enter the country for medical treatment.

The 2017 general election resulted in a hung parliament on 23 September election night. Under the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) electoral system, this is not a surprising result. Now that the special votes have been counted, the National Party, under proportionality, lost two list seats awarded to them on election night, with Labour and the Greens picking up one list seat each.

On Saturday, eight and half years of Liberal/National coalition rule came to an end in Western Australia with the landslide election of a Labor government. Labor won 42.6%, an increase of over 9% on its previous vote, while the Liberals won 31.6%, losing 15.5% on its previous result. Labor are on track to win 41 seats out of 59 in the legislative assembly (lower house) and be the biggest party in the senate (upper house) once all preference votes are counted.

John Key has announced that he his standing down as Prime Minister on 12th December. This has sent shock waves through the National Party. He stated family reasons and getting out whilst he is ahead. These reasons are flimsy ones and bear no serious scrutiny.

We publish here a report that highlights the attack on workers in the Carlton United Brewery, a subsidiary of the giant multinational SAB Miller, whose headquarters are based in London. Denis Rogatyuk reports on the solidarity shown by trade unions in Britain towards their comrades in Australia.

A demonstration of 10,000 took place last Thursday in Auckland (big for New Zealand which has a population of only 4.5 million) against the TPPA [Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement]. There were also smaller rallies in more than 20 towns and cities. [Watch the video]

New Zealand's economic situation is changing for the worse, as the general crisis of world capitalism is unravelling and China's growth is slowing down affecting the whole of the Pacific and Austrialia in particular. Austerity policies are being carried out by the National Party-led government, undermining the political support for the right wing and creating the conditions for an intensification of the class struggle in the period ahead. This perspectives document should be viewed as an addendum to the 2014 document, as the general processes outlined in the previous document are apparent in the present situation.

“Dirty politics” is the name of a book by investigative journalist Nicky Hager. In it he claims that New Zealand government ministers, including Judith Collins, passed on intelligence and other private communications about certain individuals to the controversial right-wing blogger Cameron Slater, known by his blog name Whaleoil. The book has highlighted a lot of the dirty and underhanded techniques used by this National-led government to undermine their critics.

New Zealand perspectives 2014 should be read in conjunction with previous years' perspective documents as they are a continuation from them.  In addition these perspectives should be read in conjunction with the latest World Perspectives analysis and associated material from the International Marxist Tendency (IMT) and Socialist Appeal NZ.

This year sees the centenary of one of the major strikes in New Zealand. It lives on in the memory of the Labour movement along with the years 1890 (Maritime), 1906 (tram workers), 1908 (Blackball miners) and 1912 (Waihi miners).  Already planned are commemorative walks to the most important sites of the dispute in Wellington along with a re-enactment of clashes between workers and “Masseys Cossacks”. Socialist Appeal highlights the important events and the lessons of 1913 that was described as the year that revolution came to New Zealand!

The recent crushing defeat of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) in the Federal Election and the election of a viciously right-wing Liberal-National Coalition government has opened up a period of soul-searching in the Australian labor movement.

In last week’s elections the Australian Labor Party (ALP) suffered a historic defeat, with its lowest primary vote since 1903, at just 33.8 percent. In 2007 the ALP won 43.4%, but since then there have been six years of Labor governments, first under Rudd and then Gillard, in which the working class saw the party they had voted for implement policies demanded by big business while real wages stagnated.

As the world economic crisis continues its squeeze and the bosses continue their offensive, the next period is set to see sharpened class struggle in New Zealand. In this document the comrades of Socialist Appeal, the New Zealand section of the IMT, explain the main contradictions in New Zeland society today.

I begin this article on the Christchurch earthquakes and the rebuild by discussing a very different disaster that took place five years earlier in New Orleans. In 2005 New Orleans was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina and an official count of over 1,800 people (1,500 of them in New Orleans) died primarily as the result of the failure of the levees that were supposed to protect the city from severe flooding. Many more died in the aftermath of the disaster because of appalling  neglect on part of the authorities and lack of health care and assistance.

The Australian Labor Party, according to current opinion polling, is facing a crushing defeat at the ballot box come the next Federal election. With a primary vote of only 27%, Labor’s looming annihilation could be on par with or worse than the recent historic defeats suffered in NSW [New South Wales] and Queensland.

The dramatic events that have been witnessed on the world stage; whether it be the marvellous beginnings of the Arab revolution, the upswing in the class struggle in Europe due to the euro crisis or the re-awakening of the class struggle in the United States have been seen by most New Zealanders, until recently, as being very distant affairs.

In a major victory for the Maritime Union of New Zealand, the Employment Court ruled on March 21st, 2012, that Port of Auckland were no longer permitted to continue with redundancy proceedings against union workers and they were no longer permitted to advertise for contract workers or hire contract workers from Drake Personnel Limited or Allied Workforce Limited. The Employment Court ruled that the workers who lost their jobs had to be reinstated and their wages backdated to the time strike action began.

The Port of Auckland announced on March 7th, 2012, that it was making the 300 striking workers at the Port of Auckland redundant and contracting out their jobs to scabs (contract workers).

The Maritime Union Of New Zealand  (MUNZ) is involved in a bitter dispute with Ports of Auckland (POAL) management. At the centre of the dispute is an attempt by the POAL management to bust the union and casualise the workforce, as part of a drive towards privatisation. If the POAL management succeed in busting the union it will have serious implications for all workers in New Zealand. 

For the Labour Party the 2011 general election defeat was the worst since 1928. The main factor for this was the historic low turnout as many workers stayed at home and were not enthused enough by the right-wing leadership of the Labour Party to go out and vote. The turn out was down from (what was considered then a low turnout) 79.46% at the 2008 general election to 73.83%. This was the lowest turnout since 1878!

General Elections can be an indicator of many things within a country. As Marxists, it is necessary to view the result of any election within the overall balance of forces between the classes. So after the tremendous defeat of the Labour Party and victory of the conservative National Party in New Zealand, what is the situation of the working classes there and where does the Labour Party go from here?

Facing an increasingly angry public backlash, the latest version of the industrial court used to decide labour disputes between the unions and bosses, the so-called “Fair Work Australia” court, stepped in and ordered the cessation of Qantas’ lockout of its workers and for the company to immediately resume flying.

The grounding of the 236m MV Rena on the Astrolabe Reef in the Bay of Plenty exposes the lack of maritime regulation and unpreparedness of the government to respond to such a disaster.  This is New Zealand's worst environmental disaster with oil washing up on once pristine beaches destroying both wildlife  and important ecosystems. 

As the 2011 Rugby World Cup opens up in New Zealand we publish an interesting comment by Miles Lacey on the sharp class divide that was revealed during the 1981 (South African) Springbok Tour of the country. This was at a time when the Apartheid regime was still in power in South Africa. Wherever the – all white – South African team went it faced protests by angry workers and youth, and also the full force of the New Zealand police.

This year’s New Zealand perspectives document has just been produced, which should be read in conjunction with previous perspective documents as they are a continuation from them. In addition they should be read together with the latest World Perspective analysis and associated material from the International Marxist Tendency (IMT) and Socialist Appeal NZ.

Sixty years ago, on 14th February 1951, the New Zealand Waterside Workers Union implemented an overtime ban in support of their wage claim against the cartel of British shipping companies who controlled the most of New Zealand's wharves.

Socialist Appeal sends its deepest sympathies and stands in solidarity with the families of the 29 miners who died in the recent Pike River disaster, and the West Coast communities .

The recent earthquake that hit Christchurch in New Zealand, reveals on the one hand how a quake of the same strength as that that hit Haiti can have very different effects, depending on the level of economic development and the local infrastructure. No one was killed in New Zealand! In spite of this, problems remain, and as always it is the workers who are on the bottom rung of the ladder.

The former Labor Prime Minister of Australia was right about one thing when he said on 23rd June 2010, that Labor should not and by implication could not, win a “Race to the Right” with Tony Abbott.

A taste of what may come in other countries is being provided by the conservative National Party government of New Zealand. It includes “fire at will” legislation and stringent tax increases. Workers have been protesting, but the unions must use all their muscle and prepare for a general strike, if they seriously want to stop these attacks.

New Zealand is affected by the same crisis that we see in other parts of the world, with sluggish growth, growing unemployment and austerity measures being introduced. This document looks at the particular crisis of New Zealand capitalism and underlines the tasks of the Marxists.

The recent national conference of the New Zealand Labour Party – held after their recent defeat in the elections – produced some interesting controversy around the question of what Labour should do if it gets back into office. The ideas of Marxism were present in the debate.

New Zealand society is entering an extremely turbulent period as the effects of the economic recession are felt. As previously mentioned in 2008 Perspectives New Zealand will not be immune from the global downturn. In fact the notion that our so-called “good economic fortune” in the past will save New Zealand from the worst excesses of the global downturn is evaporating before our eyes.


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The victory of the National Party at the polls was due to the bankruptcy of the right-wing Labour Party leadership that had no real meaningful reforms to offer workers. This resulted in the lowest turnout since 1978 and the second lowest turnout in a general election since 1902. A large proportion of workers didn't vote Labour or just didn't vote.

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The forthcoming elections in New Zealand have been overshadowed by the world financial meltdown and the oncoming recession, which have highlighted the huge level of debt in the country’s economy. This all puts at risk the very ability of any government to guarantee basic social reforms. In New Zealand as elsewhere the choice is between whittling down the welfare state or a radical socialist transformation of society.

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Prime Minister Helen Clark has called the general election for November 8th hoping to win a fourth term. The problem for the Labour Party is that it is well behind in the various opinion polls which give the National Party between an 8% and 18% lead over the Labour Party. With such a lead in the opinion polls the Labour Party is most likely to be defeated.

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New Zealand is clearly entering into recession with its economy shrinking in the first quarter of this year. "Statistics New Zealand" (SNZ) has provided the figures that confirm what most of us have known for sometime that indeed we are at the beginning of a recession.

Bourgeois historians portray New Zealand as a place where class conflict has never really existed. Such statements bear no relation to reality, as the history of New Zealand is a history of class struggle with the building of the trade union movement in the late 19th century, the fight against the arbitration system and for militant trade unionism in the early 20th century culminating in the great strike of 1913. Today that tradition is once more coming to the fore with a rising level of working class militancy.


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We are proud to announce a new website linked to Marxist.com, Socialist Appeal New Zealand, the website of the Marxist tendency in New Zealand. Its aim is to defend the ideas of Marxism within the New Zealand labour movement and create a tendency embedded in the mass organisations of the New Zealand working class.

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The Australian Labor Party won a landslide victory in the recent elections. At the centre of the election campaign was Howard’s hated anti-trade union legislation. The workers of Australia voted massively against this. But as the new Labor leader, Rudd, is no different from Blair, what are the tasks facing genuine socialists in Australia?

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Earlier this month there was a very militant 48-hour strike of the New Zealand dockworkers over pay and conditions. As usual, the bosses, while getting fat salaries themselves, claim the dockworkers are already well paid!

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Piero Barrachi was a pioneering Australian Communist, who threw himself into the struggle for a revolutionary party in Australia after the Russian revolution. Initially he did not understand the Stalinist degeneration but eventually he saw through it and joined the Trotskyists. Simon Williams reviews a book about his life.

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Australian Capital Reserve recently went bust leaving thousands of small investors at risk of impoverishment, among them pensioners who were convinced to sink their life savings into their various speculative schemes. It has already been made clear that the small investors will be the last to receive any compensation, an example of what we may see elsewhere.

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The forthcoming federal election in Australia is shaping up to be an almighty contest between the classes in spite of the moderate stance of the Labour leaders. The Australian workers are fed up with anti-trade union legislation and are turning to Labour on the electoral front as a way of combating these.

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