Archive for 5 June 2012

The Union Report – 4 June 2012 – Online now!


The Union Report


– 4 June 2012 –


– Labour’s spokesperson on Labour Darien Fenton & Unite President Matt McCarten –



Issue 1: With industrial action looming, has the Government’s bigger class room sizes been a failure?

Issue 2: In the battle of hearts and minds for the left – who is more of an ally to the Union movement? The Greens or Labour?

Issue 3: Are the jobless unprepared for the realities of the workforce?


Acknowledgement (republished with kind permission)




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Getting to the Heart of Politics – Metiria Turei 2012 Green Party AGM Speech


Getting to the Heart of Politics


[Metiria Turei]

Metiria Turei, MP & Green Party Co-Leader

Sunday, 03 Jun 2012 | Speech

The future of the Green Party is to be at the heart of New Zealand politics – its pivot and its conscience.

Our challenge lies in how we transform our country where the values of compassion and justice are at the heart of all the decisions we make, as a country, as a community, as a family.

The Greens are a modern, progressive political movement. What do I mean by progressive? The past has lessons but it does not provide a road map.

Progressive means we are in the business of creating the future, of genuine transformation.

Our challenge lies in how we ready ourselves for that future.

Our challenge lies in how we transform our country where the values of compassion and justice are at the heart of all the decisions we make, as a country, as a community, as a family.

Today I want to start with the family, who are at the centre of all things. And especially children, who must be at the heart of everything we do.

But first let’s talk about their mums.

Heart of Politics: Women and Children

In 1896, the Suffragists passed this resolution at their National Conference:

“That in all cases where a woman elects to superintend her own household and to be the mother of children, there shall be a law attaching a just share of her husband’s earnings or income for her separate use, payable if she so desire it, into her separate account.”

The Suffragists were clear – women have the right to economic independence whether she chooses to stay home to care for her children or chooses to work, whether she has a partner or not.

She has autonomy. She exercises her self-determination.

New Zealand women are rightly proud to have won the right to vote, a first in the world.

That’s good, we like it when women vote. And we especially like it when women stand for parliament.

In fact the Greens like it more than any political party. While other parties lose women MPs, the Greens build women’s political power.

But discrimination doesn’t end when women win the ability to vote, to choose our own careers, the right to decide when to start a family, or the right to earn the same pay as men.

Many women in Aotearoa are still living in the shadow of discrimination, exclusion, racism. If we shine a light in their direction we find:

  • New Zealand women are still paid 13% less than men doing a similar job
  • 1 in 3 New Zealand women will have a violent partner in her lifetime
  • 1 in 5 women will experience sexual violence
  • 232,000 New Zealand women live in poverty
  • 70 percent of women’s work is unpaid

And for Māori, Pacific and disabled women the numbers are much worse.

For all the very real gains women have made in the last century, there are glaring gaps – gaps that fuel inequality, injustice and poverty.

Do we think the women who took to the streets for equal pay would have thought we’d settle for a 13% pay gap?

Would the women who campaigned to provide contraception in New Zealand, receiving death threats for doing so, be satisfied that the Government now wants to “help” but only to stop women on the benefit from having babies?

Political and economic attacks against women and their children may look different these days, but they’re no less dangerous.

And for all the modern feminist advances we have made, the solo mum remains the primary target for society’s most vitriolic personal attacks – led these days by Paula Bennett who knows only too well how much it hurts, but plunges the knife in anyway.

This is a minister who:

  • exposed two solo mums and their children to public vitriol by releasing their private financial details in retaliation for their daring to criticise the slashing of the training incentive allowance
  • attacks women, battered and bruised, as failures and pariahs
  • is linking contraception to income support in an effort to control the reproductive decisions of economically vulnerable women
  • is forcing mothers into work and their babies into day-care as punishment for getting pregnant while on the benefit
  • berates a woman, however culpable she, knows the woman is herself beaten and bruised, ignoring the fact that a safe mum means a safe child.

The principle behind these attacks on women has been summed up by Colin Craig, reportedly saying:

“Why should say a 70 year old who’s had one partner all their life be paying for a young woman to sleep around? We are the country with the most promiscuous young women in the world. This does nothing to help us at all.”

Yes he is an extremist, but his comments are the logical summation of the rhetoric of the National Government.

The National Government tells New Zealanders every day that women, especially mums on their own, are weak, incompetent and incapable.

New Zealand women are not some statistic in a Durex survey.

We are not weak; we are not incapable of making our own choices.

When we are afforded the respect, resources and rights that we deserve, we are the thriving forces behind our families and communities.

Working equitably alongside men in our caucus and our party, the Greens are here for women, young and old, for mothers and for nannies.

Holly is touring Aotearoa showing the Inside Child Poverty documentary in a town near you so we confront and deal with the realities of poverty on women and their children.

Jan and Denise are working with women from unions and community networks to expose the impact of National’s low wage obsession on women and children.

Mojo is blazing a trail through the veil of discrimination for all women with disabilities and for the mothers of children with disabilities.

Eugenie is working with women who are standing up for our rivers so our kids can swim in clean water, women who want our rivers wild and free, where tuna can grow old and wise like our kuia.

Julie Anne has taken the government to task over failed transport plans and is championing smart green transport to make it safe for our kids to walk and cycle to school.

And Catherine is challenging the vicious cuts in education, exposing the ‘class warfare’ waged by Hekia Parata and presenting families with education solutions that respect their children’s learning.

Women are fierce. Our transformation is in our hands.

Child Poverty and solutions

Nelson Mandela once said: “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

Twenty five years ago, New Zealand children lived in one of the most equal countries in the OECD.

Since then, the gap between those who have the most and those who have the least has grown faster here than anywhere else.

Our children now live in one of the most unequal countries in the developed world.

We are staring, not into a gap but a chasm – one driven deeper and wider by a Government hell bent on making those who can least afford it pay.

Ours is a country where, for many kids, a pair of new school shoes is a pipe dream.

  • Where, just last month, a Northland doctor wrote of children in his neighbourhood seen scrabbling through a pig slop bucket for something to eat
  • Where Maori kids are 23 times as likely as non Maori to suffer acute rheumatic fever – a third world disease
  • Where poor kids are one-and-a-half times as likely to die in childhood than other children
  • Where four out of five families have struggled at some time to have enough food.

For hundreds of thousands of our littlest people, Aotearoa is empty of the hope that the rest of us base our dreams on.

But this is not a place where people are poor because they make bad choices, as Key has said.

We refuse to blame our children for being vulnerable and hungry.

We will shine the light into corners where they’ve been swept and confront the choices we can make to change their lives.

Let’s close the chasm between those who have, and those who have nothing, and fight to make this country equal again.

Let’s get fierce for our children.

I believe in a New Zealand that looks after all its children, regardless of the family they’re born into.

I believe in a New Zealand that sees its vulnerable children as the potential Hone Kouka’s, Pauline Harris’ and Jeanette Fitzsimons’ that they are.

I believe in a New Zealand which refuses to tolerate the waste of that potential.

So I’m issuing us all with a challenge.

Children should be at the heart of everything we do. When we are truly child focussed, and make all decisions with the child’s well-being as the starting point, how can we ever go wrong?

First we must put aside our political differences.

We must work to devise a cross party consensus to raise our children out of poverty – in a similar way we all reached an accord over superannuation.

The super accord has worked for older people. They have had some of the best outcomes in the OECD, while our children have nearly the worst.

All the NGOs and organisations who work for and advocate for children are clear. Children are to be the priority, the heart of politics.

So we must put our money where our heart is.

The Service and Food Workers Union have launched a campaign for a Living Wage. This is a wage set at what a family needs to provide for their kids, to live with dignity and to participate in their community on an equal footing.

What does that mean in practice for our kids?

  • Going to school every day with a full lunch box, good shoes and a raincoat when it’s wet
  • Having the right sports gear to play soccer, netball, hockey or rugby. Having the money to get to music lessons, art class, for supporting their natural talents.
  • Having a warm, dry home so sickness is not a barrier to education and just having some good old fashioned fun.

A living wage is the way that we all contribute to and share in the benefits of families who are well, healthy and respected.

We have promised to give the kids of beneficiaries the same low income top up – the in-work tax credit – that children whose parents have jobs get. That will make a real difference to alleviating poverty.

If the child is at the heart of everything we do, how can we not extend paid parental leave to six months, so all babies can have the best chance of a great life by breastfeeding – if that’s possible – and bonding with their mum.

Keeping 200,000 kids in poverty costs us $2 to $4 billion a year in crime, ill health and lack of opportunity.

We must invest cleverly, and strategically, in the early years of a child’s life.

Having a high quality public education system is one of the best investments we can make in our children.

The recent budget saw an unprecedented attack on our public schools. The Government is pumping millions into private schools and their charter school trial while increasing class sizes for the rest of our kids.

The Green Party will defend public schools.

Mums and Dads need to know that when the Greens are in Government in 2014 we will unwind National’s education changes.

We will restore public schools to their rightful position as places of opportunity and human transformation, not the second tier institutions National want’s to make them.

We will strengthen our school system, not cut it.

We will unwind the cuts and protect smaller classes

We will not force teachers to compete with each other.

We will make sure our school system moved from being the least equal in the OECD to the most equal again.

We will improve access to education at all levels and reinstate the training incentive allowance at tertiary level study to provide a real ladder out of welfare like the one that helped me, and Paula Bennett, when we were young mums.

We see public education as the backbone of a fair and equal society and we will defend it to the hilt.

We will build more warm, dry homes and insulate the cold damp ones. Our home insulation scheme, negotiated with both Labour and more recently National, has been extraordinarily successful. For the cost of 370 million dollars, the benefit to New Zealand has been 1.5 billion dollars and counting. For every dollar spent, 4 dollars is returned.

Not only that but 18 deaths have been prevented. This is the Green economy in action.

We have saved money, saved power and saved lives.

And we would fund effective and affordable primary health care to rid our families of the third world diseases that plague our children.

How can we afford all of this? The truth is we can’t afford not to.

As John Key is fond of saying, it all comes down to choice.

He chose to:

  • give tax cuts to the wealthy, which costs us $729 million a year
  • lose $200 million because Treasury failed to monitor the Crown Retail Deposit Guarantee scheme
  • subsidise the agriculture sector through the emissions trading scheme at $1.1 billion
  • spend $12 billion on unnecessary roads
  • gift $34 million to massive, wealthy American film companies.

Yet the Government says that taking real steps to eradicating child poverty are not on its priority list.

Well, I say it should take heed of the wise words of Dr Seuss: “A person’s a person no matter how small.”

John Key needs to remember who he is actually working for.

A government makes choices about what it values. It demonstrates what it values, above all else, in how it spends public money.

The 2012 Budget made stark choices. Public money went to pay for the hole created by tax cuts for the wealthy, 100 million to promote the sale of your energy companies, 400 million for irrigation subsidies.

Millions have been given to private schools, so private school classes can be kept small while other kids in ordinary schools are squeezed in and ultimately squeezed out.

And it is all paid for by money from ill people needing medicines, families needing early childhood education or seeking higher education. It’s paid for by families, by women and ultimately by our children.

But New Zealanders make choices too. We all choose the values on which political decisions are made.

We can choose to shift the values of politics from the corporate and the individual to the community and to the family. To the heart.

We know the costs of failure, the costs of the wrong choice.

To make this shift we need a political and community transformation.

To be a society that looks after all our people and values the diversity and beauty in all our communities. It’s a choice we make together.

The Green Party will be the pivot, the heart of New Zealand politics, a modern, progressive political movement that voices our national conscience.

And by progressive I mean we are in the business of creating the future.

Our challenge lies in how we ready ourselves, ready ourselves for the challenge of government, for the challenge of implementation.

This is new territory for the country and for us. We will have to carve out new political relationships with our communities and other political players.

What will guide us, as it always has, is our commitment to our planet, to our charter, to our people and to our country’s children.

Because that’s our reality check.

We’ll know we’ve succeeded when Aotearoa can look into its heart and see a warm, happy child smiling back.

One with a full belly and a nice, shiny, new pair of shoes.


Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking





Reprinted by kind permission from the Green Party website



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