New Zealand

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

An Auckland woman, Folole Muliaga, recently died in New Zealand because she could no longer run her oxygen machine which kept her alive, the reason being the electricity company Mighty River Power cut off her supply because of a NZ$168.40 arrears. A clear example that services run for profit kill!

On the surface New Zealand is “booming” but it is doing so at the expense of the working class. It is not surprising that under such conditions trade union membership has significantly increased and strikes over collective agreements and pay have broken out.

After 28 days of being locked out workers belonging to the National Distribution Union (NDU) and the Engineering, Printing & Manufacturing Union (EMPU) at the 3 Progressive Enterprises supermarkets depots have won pay parity across all depots within the next 18 months in one of the bitterest dispute seen in New Zealand in a generation.

Wages are abysmally low for supermarket workers in New Zealand. Recently the National Distribution Union organised a 48-hour stoppage. The bosses reacted with a lock-out. This has only served to strengthen the resolve of the striking workers. Send messages of solidarity and protest.

Rupert O'Shea explains the mood towards the war in Afghanistan among workers in New Zealand and also explains a little of what is happening in the political an d economic scene in the country. There have been demonstrations against the war, in fairly modest numbers so far, but starting before the first bombs were dropped on Afghanistan.

Since the attacks on America of 11th September, many people have been eagerly following events on TV, demonstrating the heightened interest in international affairs that has been reported from other countries on the In Defence Of Marxism web site. In the short run at least, many people have been taken in by the imperialist propaganda that has been pouring out of their TVs and other bourgeois media. Take my friend Joanne, for example. She is a Labour party member. But she thinks America is in the right. I tried to explain the far greater atrocities that the US government and big business have committed, but she did not buy it. Everything's different now, she says. She seems to think the

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