New Zealand

The breakneck speed of events is evident here in New Zealand. On 1 March we had one confirmed case of COVID-19, a NZ resident returning from Iran. Two weeks later, we had 10. Then over the space of a week, the number of cases soared to more than 100. On the weekend of March 21-22 the government closed the borders to all but returning NZ citizens and residents. Finally, on 25 March the country was put into a complete lockdown. All worksites are now closed except for an approved list that provides essential services, such as food and medicine. Apart from essential workers, no-one can travel more than 2km from their place of residence. People can buy groceries and go for a

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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 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?

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.

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.

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!

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 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.

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