Wellingtonians rally to send a message to the Beehive! (part toru)
NZ, Wellington, 13 February 2013 – At this point, there was some light entertainment – firstly from this chap,
“John Key” – first tried to convince the crowd that he’s really a “nice guy”. The response from the crowd was anything but ‘understanding’.
“John Key” then sang his now-famous version of the New Zealand anthem, which he said was now “partially privatised” – so minus every third or fourth word. Thwe song made bugger-all sense – much like asset sales themselves.
The anthem was missing the last line, which he said, had been “sold in it’s entirety, including the word ‘New Zealand’.
After “John Key” was ‘helped’ off the stage with accompanying boos and cat-calls, Energy campaigner, Molly Melhuish took the microphone.
Ms Melhuish spoke for Greypower. Like Geoff Bertram, she is also deeply knowledgeable about all facets of the energy industry, including pricing systems used for residential, commercial, and industrial sectors.
As always, listeners leave a talk by Ms Melhuish with a greater knowledge and insights into the electricity industry in our country,
Ms Melhuish first explained a bit of the background of the “Keep our Assets” campaign,
“… Greypower was essentially asked to front this campaign, and we said at the first strategic meeting of the ‘Keep our Assets’ campaign that we wanted to co-front it with the youth, so we found a youth group, it was the University Students Association.
Because we believe this campaign is about those older people. Surprisingly many of our members were involved in building those assets. We said they’re ours, we want to keep them.
But we speak to our grand-children and our grand-children recognise… they just don’t want them sold. So the Greypower group board as a group, supported this ‘Keep our Assets’ campaign, all seven zones.
There are a small number of individuals in our meetings who really believed John Key when he said ‘we have to sell the assets so we can re-pay the debts’. Geoff [Bertram] told you how wrong that is, but people are conservative, want to be safe, and many, or most of the people who still say ‘we have to sell the asssets’ do so because they believed [John Key]. John Key is a show pony, he’s… telling the story told to him by others. He’s a used car salesman. Would you buy a used car off that guy? I wouldn’t.”
“…Just yesterday afternoon, I spoke to Mana Tawa… The very very first question I asked was ‘Why can’t we have solar power on our houses? Our family in the U.K., you know, they got money to put photo-voltaics [on our roofs] and they were able to pay it off on our power bills. She said, ‘Why can’t we have that?”
We could, but we have to vote for it.
We won’t under this administration.
Another one said, when I bought my place in a retuirement village in Porirua, we were promised lower bills. We are now paying more for our little retirement village than I paid for a four bedroom house.
So you get a captive consumer and they can hike power bills not twice, but four times!
Greypower now has a policy that says energy leglislation must say [that] all household energy and especially electricity must be provided in a manner that’s fair, sustainable, efficient, and reliable. That was the law in 2001- Labour changed the law to make that. [But] National government took away “fair and sustainable” [from legislation]. That is wrong.
What to do about it? Change the government!
The only way you will get a change is to change the government! Vote for it! Peter Love told you that in the first speech; vote for change. Greypower sez vote for change. That’s your job – We Greypower can support it but it is your job to vote for change.”
And she’s right. The only way we can effect change is by the ballot in the Voting Booth. Deciding not to vote because of some half-arsed cliche about “all politicians being the same” is defeatist garbage. It is craven surrender to forces who welcome people giving away their vote because vested interests have persuaded you that “change is not possible”.
Change is possible. But not when cynicism guides your decisions.
Molly Melhuish was followed by Aotearoa Not For Sale activist, Frances, who spoke of her own ‘journey’ to set aside her apathy and become active. Despite English being a second language from Frances, her words were truly inspiring. A million New Zealanders like her, and no government would dare risk selling our treasures,
Frances first described the desperate conditions that afflict the poor or unemployed in other countries, where social welfare services barely exist, or not at all. She referred to the shame of someone loosing their job, and killing themselves and their entire family by mass-suicide – because the provisions that we often take for granted (or that right-wingers complain about), do not exist in their society.
“…I saw this country as a country so beautiful and with a humanity and the government with a heart [?] to looking after the poor and the under-privileged and the vulnerable groups. But throught the years I don’t know what has happened, I was too busy looking after kids, young children, and being someone who didn’t speak very good english. I sort of stayed low and keeped quiet and don’t want to say much about nothing against government. Although I do complain a lot at home if I say something, I see the government doesn’t do something nice to people.
But then I accidently walked through a public meeting … beginning of last year and then that was about state asset sale. And I was so shocked about what ‘s going to happen. And I thought, well, for the last 15 years my shower time from … ten minutes down to three minutes, because we need to have a budget for our power because the power bill kept going up.And then I cut my hair short so I don’t have to spend so much time [in the shower]. So all these things, and I decided maybe this year I will not harass my kids to have a showers if they don’t want to because it’s just getting more and more expensive.
There might be more stinky people around the city.
And hey, we are from middle income family, and during the winter time we fight often … argue with my husband about whether we should have the heater on. And I just never thought will come to this day!
And now they’re going to privatise these companies and sell to all those rich, only going to benefit the very rich few. Especially some foreign companies. And I was like, that’s not right, I can’t afford to pay even higher bills.”
And I thought, what happened? … From me not paying attention to politics. I actually don’t like politics. I want to just appreciate art and literature, but then from me not doing anything for so many years, what has this country become? Because a lot of people are like like me, they don’t like politics. They don’t want to take action; “I often give them moral support, I’ll give you some dollars, but you do the work. You go against the government.”
But then this time I realised what example I was setting for my children…
… But I feel great because I work with so many dedicated people and so many beautiful people, and selfless. And they are wonderful. We are all trying to make this country a better place for us, for others, for our children.
And for middle income like us, we struggle, and I just hate to think how the low income, how the beneficiary actually survive. And this government keep taking things away from the general public, from the weaker and from the vulnerable group. …
… Being a housewife, what can I do? I go out to collect signatures because that’s easy thing for me to do. It takes a lot and time and a lot of effort, but I’m glad I can make contribution. And I feel everybody here can make contribution…
… And being at home I can teach my kids, say, well don’t believe everything you heard from the media. And don’t just listen to what people say, you watch what they do. Especially our Prime Minister.
Frances finished with these thoughts,
“We can all make a difference… I saw so many people on the street. Some are angry but most of them are so depressed because they think government will never listen, and they think what we are doing going to be in vain, just not going to change anything. And I say to them, I say, if you don’t make any noise for this, what do you think government are going do to us next?
I want to set example to my children to say, if you really believe, and you have to believe, you can make a difference, you can change something. You just take actions and do whatever you can….
… But we have to still have to pressure the government, we want our referendum now, not later!
… One day when my kids ask me ‘mum have you done anything to protect us from being attacked by our government’ then I can say, I have done something. And I hope we can all say that, say we have done something to protect you from bad government policies.”
Amen to that, Frances.
Frances struggled at times with the English language – but the message she gave was as clear and meaningful as words could possibly convey.
This blogger found her to be truly inspirational.
As clouds darkened the evening sky, and the southerly ‘breeze’ gave a ‘bite’ to the assembled crowd, there was final entertainment from Steve and John,
And finally, a rousing applause given to Richard, who shouldered much of the responsibility in organising the event,
Meanwhile, further down the waterfront, others were more comfortable with their boutique beers and frothy lattes,
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TV3: Asset sales referendum likely (6 Feb 2013)
TV3: Govt under fire over Contact redundancies (14 Feb 2013)
NBR: Supreme Court to ignore govt deadline on water rights decision (15 Feb 2013)
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For a better New Zealand…
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