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Fifty cents an hour? I’m under-whelmed by Dear Leader’s Generosity…

8 February 2012 5 comments

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Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson today announced a 50 cents per hour  increase in the minimum wage, from $13 an hour, to $13.50 an hour.

Our Dear Leader says,

Between making sure that people can feed their children and look after their families and themselves and also ensure that they keep their job…

“…We’re on our way to the magical $15 people talk about, but we can’t get there in one step.” – John Key, 8 Feb

Dear Leader is now saying that families  “can feed their children and look after their families” on minimum wage?!

That’s not what Bill English said last year.  When questioned by Q+A’s Guyon Espiner on this issue, English responded,

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GUYON:  Okay, can we move backwards in people’s working lives from retirement to work and to wages?  Mr English, is $13 an hour enough to live on? 

BILL:  People can live on that for a short time, and that’s why it’s important that they have a sense of opportunity.  It’s like being on a benefit.

GUYON:  What do you mean for a short time?

BILL:  Well, a long time on the minimum wage is pretty damn tough, although our families get Working for Families and guaranteed family income, so families are in a reasonable position.Source

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In today’s “Dominion Post“,  Kate Wilkinson says that, “Government was advised raising the minimum wage would result in up to 6000 job losses“.

Noticeably,  she does not disclose what advice, or from whom, she is referring to. It can’t be Treasury advice, because as TV3’s Patrick Gower reported on his blog last year,

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“…research from the United Kingdom suggests minimum wages may have no effect on employment, or that minimum wage effects may still exist, but they may be too difficult to detect and/or very small.” – Source

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NZ  Treasury stated that “…the claim a minimum wage rise may cost jobs has not been true in the past“. – Ibid

In other words, Wilkinson and Key are making it up as they go along. And finding it increasingly difficult to keep their ‘stories’ straight, it would seem.

On the other hand, there is little ambiguity in this story from a couple of years ago,

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It beggars belief that New Zealanders – a national once proud of their  egalitarian society – can view this situation with anything but angry disdain.

When did it become socially acceptable that the richest 1% increased their wealth by a massive 20%, as well as gaining the greatest benefit  from the 2009 and 2010 taxcuts, whilst those on the minimum wage increase their income by a measely 50 cents an hour?

50 cents an hour. Or $20 a week.

By contrast, our elected representatives did very well last year from their pay increases.

Do you want to know what MPs, Ministers, and the P.M. are now paid?

Click here

John Key’s words continue to  echo throughout New Zealand,

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We will be unrelenting in our quest to lift our economic growth rate and raise wage rates.” – John Key, 29 January 2008

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Here’s a thought, Dear Leader; if the top 1% could increase their wealth by 20% – why not increase the Minimum Wage by precisely the same amount?

That would raise the minimum wage to $15.60 an hour.

Still not as high as our Aussie cuzzies enjoy – but getting there.

So what about it, Dear Leader, are you keen to share the wealth around a bit?

Show us how “unrelenting” you really are.

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Previous Blog post

Bill English: Minimum Wage Not Sufficient to live on!

Treasury’s verdict on raising the Minimum Wage? – Part II

Additional

Minimum wage rising by 50c

Other Blogs

NZ Govt celebrate Charles Dickens’ 200th birthday with 50 cent increase in minimum wage

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February 7 (Part Toru)

8 February 2012 6 comments

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Continued from February 7 (Part Rua).

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With the main Party speakers finished, others from the rally had an opportunity to make their views known. It was open, transparent and democratic (take note, National Government),

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february 7 protest at planned SOE sales

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Madd Hatter spoke of the danger to the environment caused by fracking – including contamination of underground water-tables which has caused extensive pollution in the United States,

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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And the thing is? She’s 100% right. Fracking uses toxic chemicals which contaminates water tables – water which people use for drinking, cooking, feeding to farm stock, etc. Doesn’t it strike governments as somewhat daft that we’re poisoning ourselves?

Hell, why not just cut out the middle-men (oil drilling companies) and  issue every citizen with a litre of  disulphides, benzene, xylenes, methane,  and naphthalene to drink?

Meanwhile, the crowd listened, continuing to  hold signs that expressed our collective disgust at what this shabby government was intending to foist upon us,

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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And the media continued to record the event,

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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The protest continued,  making their point peacefully,

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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A sentiment 99% of us would whole-heartedly agree with,

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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Mana’s flag flew proudly in the chill breeze,

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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The red and black Tino Rangatiratanga flag flew proudly as well. This flag is quickly becoming the de facto syymbol for the poor, the dis-possesed, and the alienated in our society. It is the flag of resistance that corporate interests and their political cronies do not want to see,

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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Dawn Shapira came from Huntly specifically to join the Rally. She rode all the way on the back of a motorbike – and says that she felt it. (Her return trip will be done in better comfort, in a bus.)  That’s dedication. That’s committment. And 80% of New Zealanders share her anger at John Key’s planned asset sales,

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

(L) Dawn Shapira and (R) Tania Tewiata

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Finally, the most important folk at this protest were not the politicians; nor the media; nor the organisers. Instead, the VIPs were the children – they are the ones who will inherit the society that we build (or sell off) for them. Will we leave them a mess, or success?

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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Media reporting

  • Radio NZ reported 30 to 40 people in their audio report, but increasing the number to 60 on their website. This is a somewhat conservative estimate, and I put the number somewhere around 100 to 150.

Copyright (c)  Notice

All images are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

  1. Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  2. Where purpose of  use is  commercial, a donation to Russell School Breakfast Club is requested.
  3. For non-commercial use, images may be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
  4. Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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February 7 (Part Rua)

8 February 2012 6 comments

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Continued from February 7 (Part Tahi).

A security guard from a private security firm had attempted to stop me from photographing the protest rally from a vantage point that was near other media personnel. I explained I was a blogger; was merely taking photos to record the event; and that I had a right to be standing where I was.

The guard refused to step out of my way, and blocked me from the rally. I became vocal, and insisted that he step out of my way; let me do my job; and then I would return to the crowd.

The media took an immediate interest in what seemed to be an escalating fracas, and started filming us.

At that point, the security guard’s superviser intervened. He demanded I leave. I insisted on my right to stand peacefully in a spot shared by other media. I gestured at the cameras pointed at us and reiterated; “let me take my photos, and I will leave peacefully. You do not want to make a ‘scene’ in front of  all these  cameras“.

Some in the crowd began shouting, “Leave him alone!” and “Let him take his photos!

Obviously I was not carrying weapons of mass destruction (or even light destruction)(maybe an unbent paper-clip in my pocket), and he agreed to allow me to proceed. I thanked him, and the security guard (who was only doing his job).

It seems a sign of the times that here in New Zealand, a small crowd of (mostly) middle-aged protestors required the presence of  security guards;  barriers; and half a dozen police to contain the situation.

What are our elected representatives so afraid of?

With the situation de-fused, the media returned their attention to the actual protest rally,

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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Some of the signs held aloft by ordinary folk who have no desire to see our public assets sold off. This one has an “air of truth” about it,

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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Possibly because it reminds me of this, from the late 1990s,

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Max Bradford

The Promise of cheaper power...

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Back to the rally,  and one of our best known activists and expert on our energy industry, attended the protest,

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Molly Melhuish february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

Molly Melhuish, Energy Campaigner

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This gentleman insisted he was not a member or supporter of NZ First – but still shared the sentiment expressed on the placard,

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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This photo, to me, speaks volumes. These two elderly gentlemen represent an age from when New Zealanders worked hard to build the state assets which we now enjoy. It must grieve them to see their foolish children auction them off, so casually, without considering the true worth of what is being  given away.

To me, it feels akin to a betrayal of what our parents and grandparents left us,

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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Amazing isn’t it – that ordinary kiwis understand the true ramifications of asset sales. Our elected representatives (or rather, some of them) seem to take us for fools. But we understand economic realities only too well,

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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This image alone, should wipe the smirk of John Key’s face.  Contrary to his little “teapot chat” with John Banks, elderly voters are not “dying off”. In fact, I think they’ve postponed any impending “coach-tour to the Pearly Gates”, so as to vote in 2014. They have a “date” with the ballot box in three years hence, and have no intention on missing it.

Take note, Mr Key; you are annoying the voters,

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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Perhaps one of the guttsiest people at the rally had to be ” Madd Hatter “, who convened the Rally. Make no mistake about the weather – it was wet and cold. Yet, covered in “oil” (a mixture of  mollasses and other stuff ) she braved the Wellington weather to make a point about fracking and deep-sea oil drilling of our coastline.

With the cost of the ‘Rena‘ clean-up now estimated at $130 million, it seems that some of our elected representatives are still entertaining lunatic notions that could result in the  polluting of  our underground water-table (“fracking“) or endanger our coastline with deep-sea drilling. (See previous blog-piece here, on this issue.)

Cheers, “Madd Hatter” – you deserve to be in Parliament. (And I say that in a nice way.)

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

"Madd Hatter"

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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And addressing the rally,

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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Jonathan then advised us that various Party leaders would address the Rally,

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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From the Labour Party, Charles Chauvel (L) and Deputy Leader, Grant Robertson (R). Note the media-scrum around them, and successive Parliamentary speakers,

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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Green Party co-leader, Russell Norman. For some unfathomable reason, Norman attracted derisory calls from one (possibly two?) individuals in the crowd. Like, who can possibly dislike the Greens? (As our mums kept reminding us; Greens are good for us! Very wise, our mums!)

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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Hone Harawira recieved the loudest applause – and not without good reason. Leaving the Maori Party – that is now so closely wedded to  National – has  cemented his credentials as an opponant of Right Wing ideology. In these times of myriad shades of gray and ambiguity, I think it fair to say that we know where Hone stands,

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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When it came Winston Peter’s turn to speak, there was a briref, two-minute vocal exchange between him And Jonathan Elliott. Regardless of who was in the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, we need to remember that the media will report on such ‘exchanges’ rather than the full message of the protest rally,

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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Sometimes, we just need to bite our collective tongues, and  on message. Otherwise, certain folk on the Ninth Floor will simply rub their hands with glee at our dis-unity. When Peters spoke, it was… vintage Winston,

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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(Damn, I wish I had his hair.)

Following the main political speakers, came Katherine Raue, from Transparency nz. It is unfortunate that as Katherine took the microphone, the media pack melted away,

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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Despite losing the interest of the media (who can be seen in the background, interviewing one of the politicians – Winston Peters, I believe), Katherine spoke eloquently on John Key’s broken promises – especially the impact broken promises has had on the families of the Pike River miner’s families.

Katherine made a strong, impassioned plea for Key to honour his promises to recover the bodies of the 29 dead miners. As we can all recall, John Key was highly prominent on the West Coast soon after the disaster. He made reassuring noises, promises, and committments – saying all the things that the dead miners’ families wanted to hear.

None of which came to pass.

In case anyone thinks that this protest-rally was “side lined by irrelevent issues” – think again. The committments that our elected representatives make – whether  to recover dead miners, or create jobs, or to make government transparent – is something that impacts on us all.

Even if we believe that something that government does doesn’t affect us – it does. Well done, Katherine – we need more Kiwis like you,

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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Katherine was followed by Green MPs Catherine Delahunty and Gareth Huges. Both spoke well, though again, the media pack had deserted the area,

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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Then it was Molly’s turn. Molly Melhuish is a long-time energy campaigner. She has seen decades of change, from the Muldoon era of the Electricity Department – to post-Rogernomics electricity corporatidsation. What  she doesn’t know about the industry probably isn’t worth knowing,

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

From L to R; Peter Redfern, Molly Melhuish, and Betty Redfern

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Greypower, more than any other group of New Zealanders understand only too well the severe impact that privatisation of our electricity will have on our elderly. For many, the price of electricity is a matter of life and death.

Note the policemen in the background. They were posted to guard the steps of Parliament in case Greypower decided to storm the House of Representatives. Good show, chaps – democracy is safe.

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To be continued Part Toru

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February 7 (Part Tahi)

8 February 2012 3 comments

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– the beginning of public reaction and action against the planned partial state-asset sales…

A small group assembled at the front of the Art Gallery in Wellington’s  Civic Square. Though raining, the group was in high spirits, and it was pointed out – quite rightly – that we were representing 80%  of the country who opposed state asset sales,

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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“Occupy Wellington” co-ordinator, Jonathan Elliot  (in yellow t-shirt), helping to focus the assembly,

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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The media were present, to report on the event,

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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… including Radio New Zealand,

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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And we were off, with Jonathan being interviewed by the Radio NZ journo,

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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A simple message, to respect and honour the Treaty, via  Section 9 of the State Owned Enterprises Act 1986. Section 9 is not a particularly complicated or onerous piece of legislation,

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february 7 protest against SOE privatisation

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In fact, the Treaty may  save our state assets from being flogged of.

“Ordinary” New Zealanders,  marching along Mercer St, Willis St, and along Lambton Quay.  The slogans were simple; “No asset sales!”. As the rally moved along the streets, more people joined us,

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7 February protest march at planned state asset sales

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Kay Gubbins was quite clear in pushing the message,

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7 February protest march at planned state asset sales

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Did Wellington’s most ardent and well-recognised street evangelist, exhort John Key to repent and cancel the planned asset sales?

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7 February protest march at planned state asset sales

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The media, recording the march,

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7 February protest march at planned state asset sales

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Past Bowen House – good kiwi folk making their way to Parliament. Whilst Wellingtonians looked-on , there were no hecklers. Those watching understood what we were on about,

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7 February protest march at planned state asset sales

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7 February protest march at planned state asset sales

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7 February protest march at planned state asset sales

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7 February protest march at planned state asset sales

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7 February protest march at planned state asset sales

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And through the gates of Parliament – the People’s House of Representatives. (Ok, just kidding. Currently occupied by National, ACT, United Future, and various moneyed vested-interests, and assorted right wing ‘groupies’.)

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7 February protest march at planned state asset sales

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7 February protest march at planned state asset sales

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… and joining another group already in the grounds,

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7 February protest march at planned state asset sales

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Note “Mad Hatter” – who convened the rally – covered in mock-oil. on the far left of the pic below. More on her later,

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7 February protest march at planned state asset sales

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I moved away, past the barriers; around a low-stone wall; onto the higher part of the grounds, to take better pictures of the assembled protesters,

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7 February protest march at planned state asset sales

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Where I encountered a somewhat over-zealous security guard  who tried to remove me from the higher ground,

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7 February protest march at planned state asset sales

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He was persistant. I was insistant. We  had a “frank exchange of views“. All of which attracted (predictably enough) the attention of the media,

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7 February protest march at planned state asset sales

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7 February protest march at planned state asset sales

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7 February protest march at planned state asset sales

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What happened next?

To be continued Part Rua (so as not to overload this page with too many images).

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