In this tumultuous time of war and global conflict, where pervasive propaganda campaigns mask geopolitical machinations of the powerful and serve their interests, mainstream journalists’ ability to counter these campaigns have never been more limited. Gone are the days when John Pilger was able to have a story attacking George W. Bush and Tony Blair’s invasion of Iraq on the front page of the British tabloid, the Daily Mirror. We live in a time of state surveillance and creeping restrictions on freedom of speech, where whistleblowers are criminalised and publishers like Julian Assange face persecution and life imprisonment.
On July 24, it was revealed that Transparency International’s New Zealand wing had enlisted the specialist advice of some of the country’s biggest, most notorious lobbying firms on improving ethical standards in the political and corporate lobbying industry. A local businessman, who’d independently offered to assist TINZ in cleaning up the sector, blew the whistle. Expressing “astonishment,” they compared TINZ’s consultation of high-ranking lobbyists on how to clean up their own industry as akin to “police recruiting gang members to determine new rules on pursuit of fleeing drivers.” Yet, anyone familiar with Transparency International’s history would hardly be surprised.
Whangarei,New Zealand - Recent reports from New Zealand’s security state have sparked protest after all but suggesting the country join the U.S.-led AUKUS military alliance, a move that would reverse years of New Zealand’s independent foreign and defence policy and put it on a collision course with China. Ex-Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark lamented the loss of what would remain of the country’s military sovereignty. Clark blasted an “orchestrated campaign” by defence and security officials to join the U.S., Britain and Australia in AUKUS. In a Twitter thread, she said the government was “abandoning its capacity to think for itself and is instead cutting & pasting from Five Eyes partners.”
Melbourne, Australia - More than 150 people from across Australia and New Zealand attended the Palestine Solidarity Conference, January 27-29, in Melbourne. They included First Nations, progressive Jews, unionists, students, Labor, Greens, socialists and independent and Palestinian activists. Encouragingly many young activists attended and, notably, young Palestinian women. The conference, which included plenary sessions and activist workshops, was hosted by the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) and featured renowned Palestinian guests from Australia and around the world, speaking via video link. Senator Lidia Thorpe, on the opening plenary “Organising for Palestine on Stolen Land” said both struggles are connected by “disempowerment, oppression, death, killings and grief” and the fight for land and justice is key.
In one of the more important advances in collective bargaining around the world, New Zealand recently passed an innovative sectoral bargaining policy, called Fair Pay Agreements. Labor supporters in Britain and Australia want to replicate elements of the policy in their countries, while for American audiences the most important lesson may be how New Zealand’s experiences highlight that sectoral bargaining — in conjunction with worksite bargaining — is necessary to improve working conditions in today’s economy and thus should be part of policy efforts to strengthen unions. Sectoral bargaining, sometimes called broad-based bargaining or industrywide bargaining, is a type of collective bargaining between unions and employers that sets minimum standards on issues such as wages, benefits, safety, and training for all workers in a sector or occupation.
Two years ago, a small pocket of land three kilometres from Auckland’s international airport became the most prominent site of a struggle by Māori, New Zealand’s indigenous people, to reclaim land confiscated by the crown more than 150 years ago. Ihumātao contains evidence of New Zealand’s first commercial gardens, where thousands of hectares were planted with kumara, a tropical sweet potato which thrived in the warm and nutritious soil. The adjacent stonefields, today a category one Unesco heritage site, are rich with ancient nurseries and storage pits. When William Hobson, then-governor of New Zealand, founded Auckland in 1840, the produce of Ihumātao sustained the growing population.
A call for help from domestic or family violence is made on average every four minutes in New Zealand, whose high statistics regularly top global lists. And South Auckland is the country’s ground zero, where 23,000 calls come in yearly for family violence. The area also has a large Māori and Pacific Islander population, but New Zealand’s police force is mostly white. Encounters between residents and officers summoned to respond to family disputes have often ended with arrests made and children funneled into emergency state care, where a bewildering bureaucracy of government agencies and community organizations await.
Perhaps the greatest success story is New Zealand, which has stopped local transmission and has a plan to completely eliminate the virus from its territory. "The lesson is that it can be done," says Siouxsie Wiles, an associate professor of microbiology in New Zealand. "Obviously, the longer you leave it, and the more cases there are, the harder it becomes. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't try." Wiles heads up the Bioluminescent Superbugs Lab at the University of Auckland. Much of her work focuses on antibiotic resistance and infectious diseases. When the coronavirus hit, she got involved in communication efforts in New Zealand to help explain the virus, including by using a popular cartoon. But it wasn't just scientists who led the charge. Wiles — and many other New Zealanders — give much of the credit for their country's success to the swift and decisive leadership of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in March.
Over the last year, New Zealand has seen tens of thousands of workers walk off the job, challenging the Labour government’s self-imposed austerity. In early 2018, a New Zealand nurse and union member Elizabeth Alice wrote an open Facebook post that went viral. “Here’s the thing,” Alice wrote. Nurses were fighting for pay, staffing levels, and “the future of our public health system.” “Our communities deserve investment in public health,” Alice continued. ‘If we don’t fight for it now then it will be gone, and we will have a situation like the USA where the rich get premium care and the poor die on the streets from curable diseases.”
As we mourn the victims of the terrorist atrocity in New Zealand -- where at least 50 Muslim worshippers were mowed down by a white supremacist partially "inspired" by Donald Trump -- many are looking for answers to the inevitable questions of why and how. To answer those questions, and explore how we might prevent such terrorist acts, it may be helpful to recognize that what happened at Christchurch -- mass murder produced as the logical result of a long-running political epoch that is almost singularly defined by the dehumanization and demonization of Muslims, Arabs, and anyone perceived as such -- happens every day.
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND — What is without question the worst mass shooting in New Zealand’s history took place on Friday when shooters, 28-year-old Australian Brenton Tarrant among them, opened fire at two Christchurch mosques. Four, including Tarrant, have been arrested for the heinous act, which claimed at least 49 innocent lives. Tarrant was responsible for killing more than 40 victims, among them several children, in a rampage he live-streamed on Facebook, sending chills throughout the Muslim community, particularly Muslims living in Western countries.
The U.S. State Department uses public funds and public employees to market private products designed for mass killing to foreign governments. Few corporations have benefitted more from this socialism for the oligarchs than Boeing. In one recent example, the U.S. government has persuaded the New Zealand government to buy four “Poseidon” planes from Boeing that are designed for working with submarines, of which New Zealand possesses zero. The purchase price of $2.3 billion in New Zealand dollars, $1.6 billion in U.S. dollars, may be too small for White House occupant Donald Trump to hold an illustration-enhanced media event about.
To The Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister Of New Zealand: Please Call A National referendum On The CPTPP Treaty
Now it’s your decision on whether or not to forward the Bill to the Governor-General with a recommendation to sign it into law. In practice, that decides whether or not NZ commits to join the CPTPP treaty. Before that happens, it’s certainly within your powers to ask for a national referendum so New Zealanders can finally get to vote on the controversial treaty. In 2015 and 2016, when the treaty was still called the TPPA, town hall meetings were held up and down the country to express concerns around the treaty.
Perpetual Guardian, a company is New Zealand that helps people with wills, trusts, and estate plans, employs 240 people and pinned the success of the trial down to employee attitudes. After testing out a four-day work week, the company found that employees reported a 7% stress reduction, a 24% increase in work-life balance, and a 20% increase in team engagement. While staff worked a four day week, they were still paid for five days. They also continued to work eight hour days. Company CEO Andrew Barnes announced the experiment in February, and gave his employees time to improve efficiency across departments - putting it in their hands how a four day week could be done without a loss to productivity.
A last-ditch effort to stop the CPTPP has seen protesters cement themselves in concrete as well as dumping pillows and soft toys outside MP’s offices. The CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership) deal will be signed in Chile on Thursday (Chile time), but activists aren’t giving up the fight. Christchurch Direct Action Group members stood in a wooden box cementing their feet into concrete outside Labour MP Ruth Dyson’s office in Christchurch on Thursday afternoon. Earlier in the day pillows and soft toys were dumped outisde Jacinda Ardern’s electorate office in Auckland. The Auckland TPP Action Group dumped dozens of pillows, soft dog toys and homemade rats outside the Prime Minister’s office in Mt Albert, Auckland. Messages written on the pillows include ’Aotearoa is not for sale’, ’Protect Aotearoa and our ecological assets’ and ’It’s our children’s future! We must protect it!’