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Protestors condemn Russian involvement in atrocities in Aleppo

24 December 2016 3 comments

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Wellington, NZ, 16 December  – About three dozen people attended a rapidly organised protest outside the Russian Federation’s sprawling  embassy in Messines Rd, Wellington.

The protest was organised  by Syrian Solidarity New Zealand and supported by local members of International Socialist Organisation (ISO). The gathering soon doubled in size from a dozen people to around three dozen;

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Various signs gave a simple message, demanding an end to violence, killings, and support for refugees;

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Some made a pointed link between state-sponsored oppression in Syria and in Gaza;

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Behind an iron barricade, the flag of the Russian Federation fluttered from a pole that, a quarter of a century ago, was adorned with it’s Soviet predecessor;

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Flags may change, but super-power imperialism remains a stubborn constant.

Gayaal was the first speaker to address the protestors;

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Gayaal thanked people for attending the protest in front of what he called sovereign Russian territory;

“We have come here to remind Putin and to remind  the Russian state that even if Aleppo falls, the Syrian revolution will not not be defeated. The people of Aleppo, who have already sacrificed so much heroically to maintain their freedoms, will never be the same.”

He said,

“We are here to send a message from people in New Zealand to the Russian government and to Putin and to al-Assad that the struggle will continue.”

He said the protest was called to show solidarity with the Syrian people in their darkest time in history. He led the protestors in chants that would have been heard throughout the Embassy buildings;

Free Free Syria

Putin Putin you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide

Down Down Assad

Blood blood blood on your hands

The next speaker was “Ani”;

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“We are here because the greatest refugee crisis this generation has ever seen has just got substantially worse… We’ve seen this extreme escalation of what’s happening  in Aleppo, people wanting to evacuate but being held up at the same time by Iranian militias.”

Ani sheeted home blame to Russian adventurism,

“We need to be really clear that this is Russian imperialism that’s  backing up al-Assad.”

Ani said that the US was “actually very marginal to what was happening in Syria”,

“If we want to talk about the US then we can talk about Iraq or Palestine. And we can certainly draw comparisons  between Syria and Palestine. They are a besieged people.  They are a people that are being exterminated  and that extermination is backed up by an empire. But like the Palestinian people the Syrian people are revolutionary, they are fighting back. So even if Aleppo falls, the revolution  will not fall.”

And added,

“We need to stand up with the Syrian people as revolutionaries… we need to stand with the Syrian people who are fighting for their rights.”

Ani said  a collection of donations which would be passed on to the “White Helmets”, a community-based organisation in Syria who, under extreme conditions facing constant bombardment  and gunfire, helped to dig people from the rubble of collapsed buildings.

Ani was followed by Daniel;

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Daniel accused Russian and Syrian government forces of indiscriminate attacks on civilians;

“As we know, Russia and al-Assad’s forces are known to target humanitarian facilities, hospitals, to bombardments so as to make the lives of the people of Aleppo unbearable. This is the largest humanitarian crisis of our lifetime, and possibly one of the greatest refugee crisis.”

Daniel said that a message should be sent to the New Zealand government;

“Refugees are streaming out of Syria, across the world. The West has a responsibility to open it’s doors to these people, having substantially caused the problems of imperialism that are now affecting these people’s lives. So New Zealand has a role to play to allow these refugees to re-settle and live among us here in peace.”

Daniel led a loud chant,

“Refugees are welcome, racists are not!”

Daniel accused (President)  al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies of waging unremitting war against the people of Syria, to crush a popular uprising. He read from a a piece written by US socialist, Ashley Smith;

“They subjected Eastern Alleppo to a siege to starve the people and force them to flee.”

Daniel said that from a population of two million people, there were now only a quarter of that number remaining.

“In  the past month, al-Assad’s forces moved in for the kill. Everything from the schools, to hospitals, to homes have been bombed.”

He accused al-Assad’s forces of killing not only so-called “terrorists” but untold numbers of civilians,

“His regime is responsible for the vast majority of the 400,000 of lives lost in the five years of warfare.”

Daniel said that five million refugees had been forced to flee to nearby countries for safety.

He said,

“al-Assad had to take to this kind of barbarism to crush the revolution that began in 2011. It was a popular, pro-democracy uprising. Just as legitimate as the other rebellions against the atrocities throughout the rest of the Middle East and North Africa collectively known as the Arab Spring. Syrians rose up against al-Assad’s dictatorship organising a tide non-sectarian, multi-ethnic demonstrations throughout the country. al-Assad responded to the the uprising by sending his police and military to fire on peaceful protests.”

He said that activists had been hunted down, arrested, and tortured in what he described as “Syria’s vast gulag of prisons”. Gayaal said that the regime’s slogan had been “Either al-Assad or we burn the country”. He said that instead of deterring the revolt, al-Assad’s opponants had been forced to take up arms in self-defence. He said that whole sections of the military had defected to form the Free Syrian Army.

Daniel said that liberated areas of Syria had;

“The popular revolt and armed resistance liberated large areas of the country, where local co-ordination committees and regional local councils were set up to begin to re-elect democratic Syrian society democratically, from below.

Russia, with the aim of protecting itself as an imperial power in the region, deployed it’s air force targeting, not ISIS as it claimed, but Syrian revolutionaries. Indeed, 90% of Russian bombing runs were carried out against targets other than ISIS.”

Daniel pointed to a “bizarre division amongst the Left”,

“Where claiming that everything coming out of the mainstream media, because it’s controlled by the US, must be in the US imperialist’s interest. But instead,  the response to this is to parrot Russian propaganda, al-Assad’s propaganda!”

He said that as soon as the rebellion had started, al-Assad had started claiming that the revolutionaries were puppets and funded by US imperialist interests.

Daniel dismissed that claim and insisted the uprising against al-Assad remained a popular cause.

Daniel also called on the government to increase New Zealand’s refugee quota, saying it remained the lowest in the world per head of capita. He said it was apalling that the number of refugees had been 750 for decades. He was disgusted that Australia, with it’s racist policies toward refugees, still accepted more refugees than New Zealand did.

Daniel concluded by saying,

“So we’re here to day to stand in solidarity with the people of Syria, with Aleppo, to call for a stop to the massacre of people of Aleppo, and to allow refugees free movement out of the country.”

The next speaker was “Karam”;

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Karam thanked people for coming to the protest to stand in solidarity with his country. He said that he was not only Syrian, but came from Aleppo;

“That’s Eastern Aleppo, the part that has fallen recently under attacks from the regime.”

Karam said,

“I do believe we are protesting in front of the right place. Although there are so many other places we need to protest in front. It’s Russia that started in September 2015 bombing civilians and bombing moderate opposition  [rebels] while claiming to be targeting terrorists. While in fact all they have been doing is supporting Assad to stay in power.”

Karam made the point of differentiating the roles played by imperial super powers in Middle East affairs,

“We might be protesting in front of the American embassy, but not for the Syrian issue. Maybe for the Iraqi issue. But for what’s taking place in Syria, it’s Russia. Solely, basically, the one [Russia]  that’s killing civilians and the one that’s supporting a dictator who has been ruling this country for sixteen years, who inherited it from his father, who ruled the country for thirty years!”

He described how Bashir al-Assad had assumed power in Syria, even to the point of the country’s constitution being amended to permit  34 year old al-Assad to become President. The constitution specifically forbade anyone under 40 from assuming that role. That criteria was changed overnight from “40” to “34”. [See also: Bashar Al Assad – Ten years later ]

Karam  was derisory of the gangsters ruling his country calling them “dirty thugs”.

“Shomi” from International Socialist Organisation then addressed the protestors;

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Shomi said that the Russian Embassy had blood on their hands and said;

“This popular  up-rising was that close to actually over-throwing Assad and it was only with the military backing of Russia that prompted Assad to make a comeback. That’s how close the revolutionaries were to actually succeeding in Syria.”

Shomi described the massacres we were seeing today in Aleppo “as an absolute outrage” and condemned the New Zealand government for it’s inaction;

“Here, in Aotearoa, we need to be quite firm in saying that the New Zealand government, whilst they’re quite happy to talk about this in the United Nations forum, have done absolutely nothing to actually  condemn Assad.

I think the New Zealand government has been absolutely atrocious. We need  to be putting the pressure on the government here to be increasing, not doubling, but quadrupling the refugee quota, if that’s that it takes. Because they have  a played a hand in being silent about the massacre that’s been happening Syria.”

Shomi criticised the Left parties for being silent on Syria, saying;

“Where are the Left parties? We’d like to see more condemnation of what is happening Syria. We need to have a huge anti-war movement globally, to show  we  stand in solidarity with the people of Syria!”

Shomi read out graffiti that was left on a wall in Aleppo;

“This is graffiti  as people were being bombed by Assad, by Russia, and by Iran as well. Here is the graffiti that was left;

‘We will return, Aleppo. Our destroyed buildings are witness of our resistance and you criminality!’

And that is why it is so important that we’re standing here outside the Russian. They are war criminals and they have blood on their hands!”

Shomi concluded with another round of loud anti-Assad, anti-Russian chants.

Phil was the last speaker to address the protest;

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Phil said he was  a member of  the NZ Labour Party, and said that this demonstration  would have “huge support from the public in general”. He said that his daughter had been collecting for UNICEF for Syria and the public had expressed their support for the Syrian peoples’ struggle. He pointed out that more people would have attended the protest, had it not been called at such short notice.

Phil referred to the Arab Spring coming to “some fruition” in five countries in the Middle East and said that it”can’t simply be attributed to terrorists”.

He said it was a “huge lie to describe the opposition to Bashir al-Assad as simply terrorist opposition”.

The protest concluded with loud chants;

“Russia out of Syria!”

Toward the end of the protest, a lone policeman arrived in a police stationwagon to talk with ISO organisers,

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There was a short, amiable conversation with “Ani”, who assured the constable that the protest was peaceful. The constable’s main concern that the driveway remain clear should vehicles passing through the Embassy gates;

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As with previous protests, it was regrettable that the constable was seen to be carrying a weapon – a yellow taser;

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The presence of the policeman was fortunate, as one of the protesters collapsed through sudden ill-health. He assessed the situation, and it was decided that a friend would drive the woman directly to hospital rather than wait for an ambulance.

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Note1: Thanks to Daniel for follow-up information. (Some corrections to factual errors have been made on 20 December 2016)
Note2: Vehicle license plates and the face of one person who declined consent to be photographed, have been obscured.
Note3: Certain names have been changed to protect people from potential repercussions.

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References

Socialist Worker: The counterrevolution crushes Aleppo

Al Arabiya: Bashar Al Assad – Ten years later

Additional

Facebook: Syrian Solidarity New Zealand

Facebook: International Socialist Organisation, NZ

Facebook: Fightback – Aotearoa/NZ

Other Blogs & media

The Wireless: ‘Tomorrow, I am going to leave my homeland’

Green blog: The Atrocity of Syria – What to do?

The Daily Blog: The war machine rolls on while children beg for blankets

Redline: Syria – regime change from above or revolution from below?

Previous related blogposts

Citizens march against TPPA in Wellington: Did Police hide tasers at TPPA march?

Dear Michael Cullen: the GCSB is not International Rescue!

What do Hungary and New Zealand have in common?

Media stories of the Week: ISIS revealed by Middle East expert

Coming soon: A terror alert near you!

Copyright (c) Notice

All images stamped ‘fmacskasy.wordpress.com’ are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

» Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
» Where purpose of use is commercial, a donation to the Syrian White Helmets relief org or  Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
» At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
» Acknowledgement of source is requested.

 

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 19 December 2016.

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NZ Herald – self censors?

7 February 2014 2 comments

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In a curious twist to the old problem of the media sensationalising some stories, the New Zealand Herald this year took upon itself the decision  not to  report protests at Waitangi;

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Both images above courtesy of The Daily Blog.

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One has to ask if it is the role of the media to be self-censoring stories of events occurring in this country? If central government issued an edict banning the Herald (or other media) from covering a political protest – the media would be furious. There would be editorials up and down the country, insisting that the media was obligated to report the news, and not hold back because something might may people “uncomfortable”.

If the Herald wanted to place a small protest or scuffle or shouted abuse into context, the item could easily be placed on page 6, as a small “side-bar” news item.That would be appropriate context.

Not reporting the news raises the spectre of self-censorship. But more important – what else is the NZ Herald withholding from the public? What else have editors, managers, Board Directors, etc, decided that we should not see?

Are we children, to be spared the hurt of something that might possibly upset us?!

Interestingly, the Herald had no hesitation in reporting this non-story about the Governor-General, Sir Jerry Mateparae, at the Waitangi Marae;

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Waitangi celebrations start with scuffle

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Interesting – there was no scuffle according to the Governor-General. He even tweeted as such earlier in the day,

“My being jostled at Waitangi is news to me. I’m enjoying the scenery, the people and the day so far! Visiting HMNZS Wellington tonight.”

But that did not stop the Herald from using the mis-leading headline,

Waitangi celebrations start with scuffle

 

Even as the Governor-General was tweeting that it never occurred, it  didn’t stop the Herald from quoting Dear Leader, who jumped into the fictional story with undue haste, without first checking the facts;

Having a few protesters or radicals effectively jostling the Governor-General is undignified, it’s unwarranted and, frankly, outright wrong.

Most people go to Waitangi to have a great time but there are one or two people that go to cause trouble and use the media to advance their own causes and their own issues.”

So there we have it. The Herald is only too happy to publish  a story focused on an fictional event that never took place, complete with an utterly misleading headline.

But not so keen to report real events and the background to what is motivating protesters.

A bit of a double standard there, NZ Herald.

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References

NZ Herald: Waitangi celebrations start with scuffle

Waikato Times: PM’s comments called overblown

Twitter:

Previous related blogpost

Dear Leader – shoots from the lip. Again

Other blogs

The Daily Blog: Dear NZ Herald – a protest free newspaper is an abdication of responsibility

 

 

 

 

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Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part toru)

30 July 2013 2 comments

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Continued from: Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part rua)

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Frank Macskasy Frankly Speaking blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com march - 27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand

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NZ, Wellington, 27 July – The peaceful protest march had arrived at Parliament without incident, and people were in good spirits.

The way that democracy is under threat in New Zealand (see: Defence rates investigative journalists as threat), this protester had a point;

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The numbers swelled on Parliament’s grassy grounds;

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Protest organiser, Ariana, welcomed people and explained why the GCSB Bill (and it’s sister Bill, the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill) were a threat to our free, open, and democratic way of life in this country;

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A simple appeal from a New Zealander to the government; please don’t spy on me;

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Question – when did we arrive at a state in our affairs when we have to plead for privacy from our own government?

When you think about it, the image below is spot-on. It is more than a little pervy for the State to be spying on it’s citizens and reading all manner of intimate emails, and other electronic communications;

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Young people who wanted their message seen;

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The flags of Mana and The Greens, fluttering in the unseasonably warm July breeze;

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Mick’s telescope, set up to peer up at the Ninth Floor of the Beehive;

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Were there really on “500” people attending, as the media (except TVNZ) claimed? Look for yourself;

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Is that a  statue of Lenin holding the red flag?!

And another shot of the rally numbers ;

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That looks a tad more than “500” to me. My guesstimate – between 3,000 to 5,000 people.

Green Party co-Leader addressed the rally. He said that when National MPs sneer at you, remember that they are frightened of you.

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With a wry grin, and semi-seriously, Russell  also suggested that everyone submit OIA requests to the GCSB asking how many had attended the rallies around the country. He said it might be fun to tie them up so they could not spy on us.

He finished of by repeating that “we should reject mass surveillance and reject this Bill“.

Billy McKee, from the Green Cross, then addressed the rally, vowing that he would lead an occupation to oppose this Bill;

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Organiser, Ariana, interviewed by a TV1 News team;

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Ploughshares Aotearoa Peace campaigner, Adrian Leason, who along with two other activists,  entered the Waihopai spy base and deflated one of the domes, addressed the rally;

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He encouraged concerned citizens everywhere to “disarm the plastic covers on the spybase” and put the facility out of operation. He said the Waihopai base spied on the United Nations, including diplomats and staff.

Adrian told the rally that Warner Bros had requested the GCSB to spy on Kim Dotcom. He said that worrying about the loss of our privacy was only “one piece of the bigger puzzle”.

His address was warmly received by the rally.

Civil liberties campaigner/Tech Liberty co-founder, Thomas Beagle,  followed;

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Thomas said that the GCSB bill was about “mass surveillance”  and expanding the power of the State,

“It’s about spying on everyone, no matter what they’ve done, no matter what they’re going to do. This sort of mass surveillance changes the balance of power in our society away from the people and towards the state.

I believe in the right to privacy, I believe in the right to sit in my house and call my friends on the phone without the Government listening.

I believe in freedom of expression and freedom of association, for people not being scared into silence because they are being watched by Government spies.”

[Blogger’s note: actual quote taken from msm.]

The next speaker was veteran peace and social justice campaigner, Valerie Morse;

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Valerie read out a long list of legislation that successive governments had passed over the last decade that had, in some way, taken away some aspect of our civil liberties;  increased the power of the State; or elevated the primacy of corporate power over our own rights.

She condemned the GCSB’s close links to American spy agencies, saying that we “do not need our every movement logged by the NSA“.

Valerie said that the greatest struggle was to protect our freedoms. She said,

“Enough, we will not take any more. The struggle goes on for a free society.”

It was an amazing turnout for Wellington, Valerie said; “we are winning!”

Following Valerie, CTU President, Helen Kelly addressed the rally;

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Helen said that this government was becoming a bully. She said, “Don’t buy into ‘nothing to fear so have nothing to hide. We all have things we want to hide and keep to ourselves“. That was called privacy, she said.

Helen reminded the rally that this government has been abusing its power by persecuting beneficiaries and has only recently tried to access a journalist’s records in the Peter Dunne case,

“Peter Dunne – who did not want his emails read!”

Following Helen was Rimutaka Labour MP, Chris Hipkins;

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Chris said that there was a fundamental principle that we all have a right to privacy. He criticised Ohariu MP, Peter Dunne as “wrong to sell his vote“.

Chris then announced the following policy statement,

“We will work to have it repealed!”

Chris’s policy pledge echoes that of Labour MP, David Cunliffe, who announced at an anti GCSB Bill  public meeting in Auckland on Friday 26 July,

“The Labour Party has a proud tradition of taking on evil and inequitous legislation whether it’s apartheid or nuclear weapons or other things of that nature. Our leader has committed to a thourough review of this legislation and based upon what’ve have heard tonight, I personally, and I’m sure my caucus colleagues, will be of the view that this legislation must not, will not, and cannot stand!”

See previous blogpost: David Cunliffe announces Labour Govt will repeal GCSB Bill!! **Updated**

This is another clear indication that Labour is committed to repealing this damnable piece of legislation, should it lead the next government.

We will hold them to that promise.

In which case, what does it profit National, and it’s smile and wave leader, to pass unpopular legislation, knowing that it will not survive a change of government?

In Kiwi parlance, the Nats are  on a hiding to nowhere.

Time to give it up, Mr Key.

Brief vid of Wellington street march

Source: Youtube – Chris Russell

Blogger’s Postscript

Ironically, it is Peter Dunne who will not release his email correspondence between himself and Fairfax journalist, Andrea Vance, insisting on his privacy – or “Parliamentary privilege”, as he calls it.

Dunne insists on maintaining his privacy (whilst voting away ours). When Inquiry head, David Henry, requested Parliamentary Service access to Andrea Vance’s internal office telephone records, he was indignant,

“They went far too far. It’s now clear he didn’t have the authority to do what he claimed to do. The fact that a journalist’s records were sought without her approval is a significant impingement on her rights and freedoms.”

I hope Parliament’s air-conditioning is working properly. The stench of hypocrisy must be over-powering.

Meanwhile, from South Korea, Dear Leader Key responded to Saturday’s nationwide street marches,

“I accept there are some that will always feel a bit nervous about privacy and their own rights, but I can give you the best assurance I can that we’re very careful and cautious about what we do as a state. But in the end we do have to protect the interests in New Zealanders.”

Source: NZ Herald – Protest marches against GCSB bill across NZ

The public though – or at least a considerable majority – do not trust Key as much as he would believe,

A 3News Reid Research poll released on Thursday night asked 1000 voters who they believed – 52 per cent said Dotcom, 34 per cent said John Key, and the rest didn’t know or didn’t care.

Source: MSN News – Kiwis don’t believe Key over Dotcom

If I were Key, I would not be so smug and arrogant as to think that we trust him to “protect the interests in New Zealanders”.

Spying on New Zealanders is not “protecting our interests”. More likely, it suggests how much he fears us.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 29 July 2013.

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More images

Facebook: Alastair Foster

Media References

MSN News: Kiwis don’t believe Key over Dotcom

Dominion Post: Thousands join rally against GSCB

NZ herald: Protest marches against GCSB bill across NZ

TV3: Protesters turn out to oppose GCSB bill

TVNZ: Thousands of GCSB Bill protesters hit the streets

Radio NZ: Protests in Auckland, Wellington against security bill

Newstalk ZB: Anti-GCSB feelings growing – Norman

Copyright (c)  Notice

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

  •     Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  •     At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part rua)

30 July 2013 1 comment

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Continued from: Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part tahi)

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Frank Macskasy Frankly Speaking blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com march - 27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand

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NZ, Wellington, 27 July – Wellingtonians (and from further afield) met  downtown in Cuba Mall, to protest National’s planned GCSB Bill.

Placards ranged from professionally printed;

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– to the artistic and decorative;

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To a simple, single, word;

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Green Party co-leader, Russell Norman, walking in the midst of other marchers,

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This shy young lad, eleven years old, made his own protest placard from scratch, downloading and pasting images from the internet. This was his first protest march;

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A message that should strike anxiety the the fear of god into the hearts of politicians; losing votes when they piss people off;

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Who says that young people aren’t interested in politics or political issues any more?

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More young folk, with a very wise message to our elected representatives, Alex with his home-made placard;

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Alex and his hastily-crafted placard

Alex and his hastily-crafted placard

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At the intersection of Lambton Quay, Bowen St, and Whitmore St, one of the protest march organisers, Ariana (with loud-hailer), led an impromptu sit-down;

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Valerie, taking pics of the event;

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After about five or ten minutes, as the march was moving again to the gates of Parliament, this lone chap decided to yell out “retards” and other expletives at the protesters. His name is Eddie;

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Eddie

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I went up to Eddie and asked his why he called the protesters “retards”.

Eddie was upset that buses had stopped moving up Lambton Quay and he was worried that the chicken he had bought at the supermarket would develop salmonella. He said the protesters should be marching along the footpath and not the road. I asked Eddie how 3,000 to 5,000 people could fit onto a footpath.

He had no response.  He said the protest should have taken place when people weren’t at work. I suggested to him that a protest march of this size would be less of a nuisance to traffic on a Saturday afternoon than had been held during the week. I then asked him if he knew what the issues surrounding the GCSB Bill were, and that maybe it was important enough to warrant a temporary, minor inconvenience.

At first Eddie denied knowing anything about the issue. When asked again, he admitted knowing that the GCSB’s powers were to be expanded “to spy on us all”.

When I asked him if that was an important issue of public concern he muttered something and walked off.

I hope he enjoys his chicken.

Meanwhile, those with more pressing issues on their minds had reached the entrance to  Parliament – only to find that the main gate had been locked. Only two side-gates, which were barely wide enough to allow passage for one or two people at a time, were open.

Undeterred, those who were fit, young, and with enthusiastic energy went over the gates as well as around;

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Not quite the storming of the Bastille – but their hearts were in the right place;

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27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand (36)

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A note to the smart-arse news-editors on TV3 who quipped that protesters climbed over the main gate “even though there was another gate open right next to them” – mis-representing an event does not inspire confidence in your ability to be accurate and fair in your reporting.

Try getting 3,000-plus people through a small gap in any meaningful period of time. The entrance-way in question is to the right of the main gate in the image below;

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Very disappointing that TV3 chose to make such a cheap shot.

As people squeezed through the side entrances, others continued to climb the barrier. The symbolism was obvious;

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This young woman – with the sign “We are NZ!!! Not USA!” – climbed the gate and grinned with satisfaction;

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27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand (38)

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Once through (or over) the gates, New Zealand citizens made their way up the road through Parliament grounds;

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27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand (39)

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More people arrived. In this shot, you can clearly see the bottleneck at the front gates;

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27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand (40)

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Parliament’s grounds were once again in the possession of the People.

To be continued: Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part toru)

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*

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Copyright (c)  Notice

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

  •     Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  •     At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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= fs =

Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part tahi)

30 July 2013 2 comments

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com  march - 27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand

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NZ, Wellington, 27 July – Between 3,000 to 5,000 people (not the “500” estimated by the Dominion Post, NZ Herald, and TV3) took part in a march in Wellington on a bright, warm Saturday afternoon.

People assembled in Cuba Mall near the Bucket fountain, and when we arrived there were already at least a thousand people in attendence.

This shot looks south; the crowd extends all the way to the Cuba Mall/Ghuznee Street intersection;

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Frank Macskasy   Frankly Speaking  blog  fmacskasy.wordpress.com   - 27 July - GCSB Bill - spying - Peter Dunne - Parliament - Wellintgton New Zealand

Cuba Mall – looking south

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The rest of the crowd, looking northward, from my same vantage point (on the Bucket Fountain’s wall);

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Cuba Mall was effectively packed with people who had joined the protest march. Only TV1 got the numbers right (see: Thousands of GCSB Bill protesters hit the streets)

There were people from all walks of life; all ages; all races; all demographics. Families like this one;

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27-july-gcsb-bill-spying-peter-dunne-parliament-wellintgton-new-zealand

L-R: Rebecca, Karl, Charley, and Alida

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I was reliably informed that Rebecca’s tongue-poking was directed at Dear Leader, and not at myself. But one cannot be 100% certain…

Many of the signs carried messages on both sides, like Mick’s;

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People’s messages were often witty and well thought out;

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Dillon and Tanya

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Other’s got straight to the point – stop stealing our human right to privacy;

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Paul and Bev from the  Ohariu electorate  both expressed their disgust at Peter Dunne’s behaviour. Neither would be voting for him again, they both said;

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Their signs had messages on both sides as well – typical ingenuity from New Zealander’s famed “no 8 fencing wire” can-do attitude;

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Dunne must be either brave or foolish to be alienating his voters in this fashion.

Shortly after we arrived, the march took off, headed to Parliament. By this time, numbers had swelled and more people would join as the march moved along Wellington’s streets;

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Politicians should take note – the protesters weren’t just radicals, activists, and suchlike – these were ordinary New Zealanders who rarely take to the streets.

What some placards lacked in political rhetoric and ideology, they more than made up in straight Kiwi talk;

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And some folk  have just had a gutsful of this increasingly autocratic government and want a chance to change things at the ballot box;

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Many of the placards were obviously home-made, by ordinary citizens. Not exactly the “rent a mob” that Key and other Tories have claimed in the past, whenever they dismiss protest movements;

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And some were downright creative in their style and message;

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Home-made or pre-printed, the messages were crystal clear; people do not want the GCSB spying on us;

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And some were pretty ‘earthy’ in their wording – but I think most fair minded folk can empathise with the passion behind the message;

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More creativity;

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Even  businesspeople  like  Helen and Chelfyn were out on the street to protest. They found a simple, but novel way to  spoof the threat of many eyes watching us,

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To be continued: Wellington protests against the Surveillance State (part rua)

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*

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Copyright (c)  Notice

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

  •     Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  •     At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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= fs =

Horizon Polling on Criminalising sea-going protests – Part Rua

17 April 2013 1 comment

Continued from: Horizon Polling on Criminalising sea-going protests

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Horizon Poll - Crown Mineral Bill - sea protests

Note: this header-image above was not partof the Polling Questionnaire in any way, shape, or form. Are you paying attention, Slater? Step awaaaaay from the computer terminal…

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The results for the Horizon Research Poll*, on criminalising sea-protests via the Crown Minerals (Permitting and Crown Land) Amendment Bill;

79% want sea protest law change reviewed or stopped

16 Apr 13

Credit: Element Magazine

79% want sea protest law change reviewed or stopped

Surveys finds New Zealanders uncomfortable with sea protest law change

Overall 79% of New Zealanders, regardless of their political alignment, believe a bill restricting rights to protest at sea should now go back to a Parliamentary Select Committee for more thorough scrutiny and public submissions or be dropped.

The Crown Minerals (Permitting and Crown Land) Amendment Bill is due to go through its third and final reading at Parliament today (April 16).

The Horizon Research survey of 1,308 New Zealanders aged 18+, between 12:26 pm on 13 April 2013 and 10:30am on 15 April 2013, finds:

  • Overall, 51.4% oppose a proposed new law which would make some currently lawful protest activities against petroleum and minerals activities at sea unlawful
  • Support for the law change is 30.5% while the remainder are neutral or undecided.

The changes were introduced to the Crown Minerals (Permitting and Crown Land) Amendment Bill 2012 in Supplementary Order Paper No 205 (SOP No 205). The proposals contained in SOP No. 205 were first outlined in a media release on 31 March 2013 and the Supplementary Order Paper itself was released on 2 April 2013 by Hon Simon Bridges – Minister of Energy and Resources.

Meeting as a Committee of the Whole on April 11, the changes won support by 61 votes to 59 in the Parliament.  The bill is now set down for its final reading on Parliament’s next sitting day, Tuesday April 16, 2013.

The Horizon survey finds

  • 49% of respondents were not aware and 51% were aware of the proposed law changes before doing the survey
  • Overall, 60% think the law change process has been undertaken too quickly, and
  • 52.3% believe the bill should be sent back to the Select Committee.  A majority of those who support parties who voted for the change think that the bill should be sent back to the Select Committee
  • Overall, 79% support either sending the bill back to the Select Committee or withdrawing it entirely.

The National, Act and United Future parties voted for the SOP in the House on April 12, Labour, Green, Maori and Mana parties against.

Q7. Thinking about the proposed law change, which of the following actions would you support?

TOTAL

Supporters of:

Parties who voted for the SOP

Parties who voted against the SOP

The bill should become law immediately

20.1%

37.1%

6.0%

The bill should be sent back to select committee for more thorough scrutiny and public submissions

52.3%

51.6%

52.2%

The bill should be withdrawn and not passed into law

29.7%

13.5%

42.2%

Something else should happen

7.3%

2.0%

7.4%

Support and opposition to the changes proposed to the bill are strongly aligned to support for political parties.  Support comes primarily from those who support the parties that voted for the changes; opposition largely from those who support the parties who voted against the changes.

Overall, however, a majority of respondents, regardless of their political alignment, believe the bill should now go back to the Select Committee for more thorough scrutiny and public submissions. 

There is general acknowledgement that many important environmental protection initiatives arose from protests at sea, including the moratorium on commercial whaling, the bans on dumping nuclear waste at sea and on using of driftnets, New Zealand’s nuclear free status and the end of French atmospheric nuclear tests in the Pacific.  While that acknowledgement is stronger among the opposition, a majority of supporters of the change feel that way as well.

Opinion on the harshness or otherwise of the change and associated penalties is again politically aligned.

There is also an indication that more discussion and better information about the change may lead to people being less neutral about it.  While support remained a minority overall, respondents were a little more supportive at the end of the survey that at the beginning.  Similarly, more opposed the change at the end of the survey than at the beginning.

A Horizon Research report on the survey can be downloaded here.

 

* Reprinted in full from Horizon email-out to respondents.

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*

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References

NZ Herald: Protester law avoids public submissions and Bill of Rights vetting  (3 April 2013)

Previous related blogpost

Meanwhile, back on Planet Key

To be followed up at The Daily Blog

See upcoming blogpost:  National’s disdain for democracy and dissent

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= fs =

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horizon Polling on Criminalising sea-going protests

16 April 2013 6 comments

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Horizon Poll - Crown Mineral Bill - sea protests

Note: this header-image above was not partof the Polling Questionnaire in any way, shape, or form. Are you paying attention, Slater? Step awaaaaay from the computer terminal…

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As the proposed amendment to the Crown Minerals Bill – which will criminalise sea-going protests  – nears enactment, Horizon Research this week conducted a brief poll on the issue.

The questions – and this blogger’s answers – were as follows…

Firstly, Horizon Research presented a summary of facts which was reasonably impartial and gave the respondent a fairly clear idea as to the issues,

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Horizon Poll - Crown Minerals Bill

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The first two questions were fairly straight forward, and I gave my answer as “Strongly Opposed” to the proposed law changes.

For me, the amendments to the Crown Minerals bill can be summed up as,

  • procedurally flawed, as National ministers make no allowance for public submissions so that people can air their views,
  • undemocractic in the extreme,
  • draconian in content, and more reminiscent of Putin-era Russia, than a liberal democracy,
  • hastily-enacted, making laws that are  inevitably flawed.

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Horizon Poll - Crown Minerals Bill - sea protests - simon bridges - criminalising protest

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Horizon then asked me to explain why I opposed the proposed legislative amendment. (Bad mistake – I’m not shy in expressing my views)

Thankfully there was no word limit in the field. I responded accordingly,

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Horizon Poll - Crown Minerals Bill - sea protests - simon bridges - criminalising protest

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The next question was fairly complex, with multiple options for answers. I had to pick each option carefully,

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Horizon Poll - Crown Minerals Bill - sea protests - simon bridges - criminalising protest

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The following question was easy to answer,

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Horizon Poll - Crown Minerals Bill - sea protests - simon bridges - criminalising protest

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The next question was a follow-up with a request to explain my previous response,

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Horizon Poll - Crown Minerals Bill - sea protests - simon bridges - criminalising protest

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This one was obvious,

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Horizon Poll - Crown Minerals Bill - sea protests - simon bridges - criminalising protest

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Also a straight forward question,

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Horizon Poll - Crown Minerals Bill - sea protests - simon bridges - criminalising protest

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And this question really allowed me to ‘let rip’ with my thoughts on this issue,

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Horizon Poll - Crown Minerals Bill - sea protests - simon bridges - criminalising protest

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An incoming Labour-Green government  will have a full legislative agenda, repealing many of  National’s undemocratic laws. As with the “Hobbit Law” (which Labour has pledged to repeal – see: Labour vows to repeal Hobbit Law), there are many pieces of legislation which have no place in a liberal democracy, and should be binned as soon as Labour Ministers are sworn into office.

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Horizon Poll - Crown Minerals Bill - sea protests - simon bridges - criminalising protest

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It would be interesting to learn who the client  (if any) was for this poll.

Continuede at: Horizon Polling on Criminalising sea-going protests – Part Rua

Addendum

In what has been one of the fastest pieces of law-making in New Zealand’s history,  the Crown Minerals (Permitting and Crown Land) Amendment Bill passed its third reading in Parliament at 4.30pm today (16 April)  by 61 votes to 59. Next step; the Bill will proceed to  the Governor General for assent and become law.

This ain’t democracy, folks. This is government-by-decree.

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*

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References

NZ Herald: Protester law avoids public submissions and Bill of Rights vetting  (3 April 2013)

Previous related blogpost

Meanwhile, back on Planet Key

To be followed up at The Daily Blog

See upcoming blogpost:  National’s disdain for democracy and dissent

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= fs =

5 October: Protest against Govt harrassment of the unemployed and solo-mums

5 October 2012 4 comments

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NZ, Wellington, 5 October 2012 –  Today marked a National Day Of Action Against Welfare “Reforms” around the country against National’s ongoing harassment and demonisation of unemployed, solo-mothers (but never solo-dads), and others receiving welfare assistance.

Dunedin: ODT – 150 protest welfare reforms in Dunedin

Christchurch: The Press – Protesters angry at benefit moves

Auckland: NZ Herald – Welfare protestors march on MP’s office

Hamilton: Waikato Times – Solutions sought to poverty

Wellington: Dominion Post – nil coverage

Radio NZ: Welfare reform protests held throughout country

The protest in Wellington was held outside the WINZ offices in Upper Willis St, on a cold, blustery day, and was attended by around  100 people,

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The protest was joined by members of the CTU, who had been at a Conference, nearby,

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The crowd swelled from around thirty, up to about 100,

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Radio NZ and TV1 media were present to cover the event, and several folk were interviewed by the RNZ journalist (not in picture),

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Heleyni and Michelle, voluntary advocate-at-large, addressed the gathering. Michelle  had come from Napier on business, and had been keen to join the picket in support of beneficiaries.

Michelle was particularly scathing about National singling out welfare recipients with demands to undertake various “social obligations”,

They should be reaching out to every parent. If they [National] want to interfere in our  lives it should be across the board and be fair about it. So I’m here to support any beneficiary that’s having a headache with this department. But it’s the politicians that need to get a clear message in their heads.”

Bennett has never answered a simple question; if social obligations (such as compulsory early childhood education; school participation; enrollment at a doctor’s clinic) is such an excellent idea for beneficiaries  – why has this policy not been rolled out for all New Zealand families? Why not have  compulsion for everyone?

The answer, I submit, is fairly obvious.

Michelle said that she had kept Jenny Shipley’s  “Code of Social Responsibility” booklet that National had mailed out to  every household in  the country in 1998. Michelle drew parallels with that taxpayer funded exercise  to smear welfare recipients as the cause of society’s social problems – with current policies to achieve similar ends.

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On a current case that I’m advocating for in my home town, is  a young guy  who was the top apprentice in the course;  was working; his boss laid him off, and it’s taken 13 weeks to get his unemployment benefit on. In the meantime he’s had no money; he’s absolutely depressed , he did all that training, he did everything right, and he ended up in the dole queue where he’d never been before actually.

And he is absolutely distraught because there are not enough jobs, let alone qualified ones around.

It’s jobs that the government need to be held to account to create. That’s the problem. It’s not about fault with WINZ. I did eleven years on DPB, worked part time, took me that bloody long to get of my benefit . I trained my way out of it and I’m really  lucky now that I never have to go back to it. Who’s to say that one day I might not have to though. And that’s why our government needs to hear that we need the safety net and we need to have everybody treated with respect.

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Michelle

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David shared his experiences with WINZ, with this blogger.  His  WINZ caseworker suggested that his mental disability was not a true disability, even though he “had been in and out of the mental health system since the age of 13”. He had been hospitalised four times for overdoses, and has self-harmed.

David showed me the angry-red scars on his wrists.

He described how the mental health system had let him down, and his subsequent contact with police and the justice system. (Unfortunately, David’s story is not that uncommon. See:  Radio NZ – Suicides amongst mental health callouts – police )

David said he was worried about being taken off his invalid’s benefit and not having his mental condition taken seriously,

” Basically, because I was able to bike down to the WINZ appointment, my mental health is not that severe

She saw me on one of my good days. She said because I’d been job hunting; because I do one paper a semester at University; which actually is part of my care-package to keep me going, and keep me engaged, instead of stagnating, then she looked at those two things and how I presented and wrote it all of.”

He added,

They are looking at taking me of my invalid’s benefit.”

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David

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This gentleman arrived at the protest well prepared. He carried  ‘urine’ samples to present to WINZ,

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If the contant tooting of passing traffic car horns was anything to go by, there was strong support from the public for the protestors. Perhaps the public are starting to weary of constant job redundancies, rising unemployment, lack of movement on job creation – and in the meantime, National blaming beneficiaries for poor economic performance and indicators.

A government can fool people for only so long…

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Green MP, Jan Logie, addressed the protest and cited National ‘s failure to create the jobs that unemployed needed to get of benefits,

Kia Ora katou, I’m Jan Logie, I’m the Green Party spokesperson for income support. And I’ve gotta say  it’s great to see the crowd out today, people who are in paid work, and those of you who are brave enough not to be in paid work and be out here today, because I know [wind noise].

I’m here because the Green Party believes in a society that we can all participate in. And this government is creating a society that is actively excluding many of our most important people; our parents, our thinkers, our artists, the soul of our society, which is you and every other person accepting income support. I’ve been on income support, most people in this country have been on income support at some stage in their life. And  this government which  is in deep denial, is creating a perception that it is only slackers and losers who are in need of any government support. Well, shame on them! [car honking background noise]

The chances are, the way they’re setting up the world, they’re going to have enough money to be able support their families for generations. Because they’re creating a divided country where the rich are getting so much wealthier and everyone else is just being bloody well left out. And that’s not a country I was brought up to believe I was part off. That’s a country that I looked at overseas and  thought, ‘you poor people, to have a government that treats people and excludes people like that’. That is not the country I know, and that’s not a country I want to be part of.

So I’m so glad that this is a start of a fightback, a start of a fightback for a society we can all be part of. Kia ora katou.”

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This woman had her own story to share with the crowd,

Due to circumstance in our lives – I’m partnered – we had to ask for benefits. Just for two months as it turned out, my partner go a job. But when I came to ask for benefits, we asked not for a free hand out, but for a loan . A loan of $200 to buy our brand new baby clothes. You know what I was told? – “No”.

D’you know why? Because they said my baby wasn’t born yet and just in case  something happens, that … what would the loan be for? [wind noise] They did not give me the loan. So this is the kind of system that is systematically telling us that our children aren’t worth anything, our lives are not worth anything. Anything can happen to you and fundamentally “we do not care”.

So this is what I’m standing against. I’m standing for human rights and against people who say “you don’t matter”, “your unborn child does not matter”… I’m standing against that; my child matters [car & wind noise] So thanks very much for nothing, Mr John Key.”

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Solo-mum and Parliamentarian, Jan Logie (green scarf). The contrast between Ms Logie and Welfare Minister Paula Bennett is stark.

Considering Bennett’s own background as an ex welfare beneficiary, when will she stand with the unemployed, powerless, and dispossessed, on protest lines like these?

Bennett enjoyed full access to state social services; DPB, free tertiary education paid with the Training Incentive Allowance (which Bennett closed down), and even bought a house using  WINZ assistance.

The people here today simply want what Bennett received, to get out of the poverty trap as she did,

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Others had the opportunity to express their feelings and thoughts on issues surrounding beneficiary-bashing, lack of jobs, and Paula Bennett’s behaviour,

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This protestor knew precisely where to sheet home responsibility for ongoing economic problems,

There’s a lot of talk right now about debt and financial burden… This is actually scapegoating. The bulk of debt in this country is private debt, it’s not government debt…. By attacking beneficiaries, the poorest people, it’s a way of actually  making people insecure and making people blame those who aren’t causing this problem. The people who are causing this problem are capitalists and  banks. .. and we should not blame beneficiaries for causing this problem.”

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A petition was passed around. It made a simple request,

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This woman demanded to know how she could meet Bennett’s  “obligations” to find  work when employers preferred to hire able-bodied people rather than someone with a disability.

She said she couldn’t even speak to some at WINZ’s reception, at eye-level, because her line of sight was blocked by the reception-counter,

I’ve been to this WINZ office.And I went up to the  Counter. And unfortunately it was the Counter I saw. Because it is so inaccessible. I couldn’t see the staff – I could see the counter. I think it is disgraceful that Work and  Income is so inaccessible … and that is discrimination. Do they not deal with disabled people? Perhaps some disabled people might be on a, I don’t know, an in-valid benefit. Perhaps they might be on a sickness benefit. Perhaps they might be receiving super. I don’t know… there may be the occassional disabled person coming to work at Work & Income  And yet, it is inaccessible!”

She added,

Social responsibility does go both ways. And this government must must get it’s act together.”

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Protestors enjoyed a  moment of spontaneous entertainment and humour  when a streaker from the nearby university hostel, ‘Ustay’, ran across the street; back again;  through the protestors; and back into the hostel-building.

He had guts (and lots of skin).  The wind that blew up and down the street was bitterly cold.

Unfortunately, he was too quick to catch on-camera (his streaking was suitable for the Olympic 100m dash), but the reaction from the crowd is plain to see,

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This particular sign perhaps says it all; whilst National demands that unemployed, solo-mums, etc meet certain “obligations” – where is National’s obligation to create the 170,000 new jobs they promised us during last year’s general elections?

Are obligations a one-way street?

Has National abrogated it’s obligations, and thrust responsibility for their job-creation policy-failures, onto the unemployed?

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And finally, this shot of WINZ’s interior says a lot. It is emptly, save for the security guard lucky enough to have a job,

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The reason that unemployed are not queuing up at WINZ offices is mind-numbingly simple; there are no jobs to be had at WINZ.

Instead, the unemployed, solo-mums, and other beneficiaries queue where the jobs are,

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See: Employment-Unemployment Fact Sheet #1: Queues for Vacancies

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Addendum 1

More images of  the Protest action here.

Addendum 2

Right wing blogger; ex ACT candidate; critic of solo-mothers; and self-proclaimed “expert” on New Zealand’s welfare system, Lindsay Mitchell, had this to to write about today’s day-of-action,

” WELFARE REFORM PROTESTS ALARM BENEFICIARIES

Friday, October 5, 2012

The language protesters are using to describe ongoing welfare reforms is unnecessarily frightening people on benefits, according to welfare commentator Lindsay Mitchell.

“Welfare reforms are being described as ‘cruel’, ‘punitive’, ‘brutal’, ‘vicious’ and ‘violent’ prompting beneficiaries to fear the worst – that they will lose their income. “

See: Welfare reform protests alarm beneficiaries

Mitchell did not name the mysterious people being “unnecessarily frightened”. Of course not. Mitchell does not move in circles where she would come into contact with  the unemployed, solo-mums, and other such “riff-raff”.

She was merely interviewing her own keyboard. Making it up.

Mitchell went on to write,

The reforms are focussed on getting more people into work and on creating better outcomes for children.”

Mitchell is deluding herself. The reforms are not “ focussed on getting more people into work“.  The “reforms” will not create one single job. That is not the purpose of said “reforms” – which she well knows.

The actual purpose is to push people of welfare and make unemployment stats look better for National.

National has no policy on job creation and has stated on numerous occassions that it believes that only the private sector can create jobs – not government,

Nothing creates jobs and boosts incomes better than business growth. For New Zealand to build a more productive and competitive economy, we need more innovative companies out there selling their products on the world stage.” – John Key, 24 August 2012

Now in her dotage, Mitchell is little more than an apologist for  National’s nasty beneficiary-bashing agenda. Her views on social welfare are stated with crystal clarity on her blog,

” This blog intends to debunk the myths surrounding the welfare state. The government is not caring and compassionate. It cannot replace families and community. The welfare state is unsustainable economically, socially and morally. “

Yeah, far better to let people sleep  in alleyways and die in gutters. If it’s good enough for the slum-dwellers of Mumbai and Soweto…

Interestingly, the one response she had on her blogpost was an Invalid Beneficiary who was unashamedly honest in demolishing Mitchell’s bullshit.

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Other blogs

Leftwing

The Standard: National Day of action against Bennett’s welfare reforms

Rightwing

Lindsay Mitchell: Welfare reform protests alarm beneficiaries

Copyright (c)  Notice

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

  •     Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  •     For non-commercial use, images may be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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These people are HEROES!!!

18 September 2012 5 comments

In every society and in every age, there is a minority of human beings who reject injustice and put themselves on the line to make a point,

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Full story

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These people are heroes. Every one of them. They make a stand where others sit idly by, accepting without a second thought, the actions of an increasingly desperate and hopeless government.

What National has failed to understand is that if you push people hard enough, they will eventually push back. Demonising a group of people will eventually result in anger, frustration, and will boil over into a reaction.

New Zealanders take stock of what you are seeing; these people are protesting because they want jobs. And they are protesting because they resent being blamed for a stagnant economy and high unemployment they had no hand in making.

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Full story

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Those New Zealanders who side with National on this issue should realise that they too, may one day find themselves out of a job.

It is a shameful thing that we are witnessing here; young people having to protest at a lack of jobs – and having to protest against a government that is effectively waging an undeclared war on the unemployed.

Is this what John Key had in mind for his “Bright New Future”?

Good lord, what is happening to this country?

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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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