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!

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.

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