NOT A DUNNE DEAL

People's Power in Ohariu - a challenge to MP Peter Dunne on state asset sales.

On Saturday the 18th protesters tied ribbons and balloons to every power pole between Ohariu MP Peter Dunne’s Johnsonville electorate office and Parliament. This was the first step in a ‘People’s Power’ campaign in the Ohariu electorate to challenge Peter Dunne’s support of the National Government’s partial state asset sales by setting up a Citizens' Select Committee. Since Peter Dunne's single vote may decide the outcome of the asset sales debate his constituency, and other members of the public, need to be given a forum through which they can have their voices heard.

A YouTube video is available at this link.

On the 1st of March a public meeting at the Johnsonville Community Centre, at 7:45pm. NZ Council of Trade Unions economist Bill Rosenberg will be making a presentation on the sale of state assets and the implications of free trade and investment agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). Peter Dunne will be invited to attend the public meeting.

This public meeting will appoint the committee members, who will then be calling for public submissions on asset sales and the TPPA. Last year the Government refused a request to hold a Parliamentary Select Committee on the TPPA.

Written submissions will be invited, and oral submissions will be heard at the Johnsonville Community Centre on Thursday 22 March.

“We have heard the strong opposition to asset sales in the Ohariu electorate”, says John Maynard. “Democracy is not just voting every three years and ours is only one example of the campaigns building in opposition to the selling off of state assets. We are encouraging local voters to support any of the campaigns and we will also be assisting those who may want to make written or oral submissions to the Ohariu Citizens’ Select Committee”.

Written submissions of only a few sentences or up to 1000 words can be made anytime before 22 March to:

The Ohariu Citizens’ Select Committee
P O Box 13 367
Johnsonville
Wellington 6037

THE END OF KIWI FM

Is the Government preparing to sell the FM frequencies formerly reserved for the non-commercial Youth Radio Network?

After years of desperately low ratings Kiwi FM has now ditched the failed 'all Kiwi content' and is now playing forty percent international content. Effectively, it is the end of Kiwi FM - a station that former manager Karyn Hay insisted last year had turned a corner.

The decision to axe Kiwi was not made from within the so-called 'independent' Kiwi FM itself but was a corporate edict issued from within MediaWorks. MediaWorks Radio spokesman Andrew Szusterman said having 100 per cent New Zealand music was no longer tenable with just over 20,000 listeners tuning in each week. 'No longer tenable'? It was never tenable and the years of dismal ratings are proof of that.

For years this blog has been consistently exposing the failure of Kiwi FM.

But what we have also learnt is that the Government agreed in last year to cut MediaWorks local content obligations for Kiwi.

John Drinnan has reported in the NZ Herald that: 'Former MediaWorks music boss Jana Rangooni negotiated the reduced local content obligations and it is understood that Communications and IT Minister Steven Joyce was involved in the deal.'

Steven Joyce is the former owner of MediaWorks.

Readers will recall that the three FM frequencies that Kiwi has been squatting in were formerly reserved by the previous Labour Government for the non commercial Youth Radio Network (YRN).

The station has also been receiving $300,000 a year from NZ ON Air. Yes, public money has been dished out to a station controlled by a commercial broadcaster.

However the YRN, despite widespread community support, was scuttled by the then former Minister of Broadcasting Steve Maharey. Behind closed doors he agreed to a shonky deal with Brent Impey of Mediaworks which saw the FM frequencies being handed over to MedIaWorks and Kiwi FM. Impey was worried that the YRN would pull audience away from Mediaworks stable of commercial stations.

Maharey said at the time that Kiwi's performance would be reviewed after a year - no review was ever conducted.

Brent Impey thinks that New Zealand youth just want to listen to pop music 24/7. He regards youth as just another demographic to be targeted by advertisers.

Musician Neil Finn, one of the central supporters of the YRN said of Impey: "He was the arch enemy of a public youth radio network and yet he has now asked for, and received, Government assistance for Kiwi FM,"

In a letter to the New Zealand Herald, the former member of Crowded House and Split Enz asked why Kiwi was being propped up "when it has proved to be a failed concept with the listening audience".

Although the Government has denied it, looming on the horizon is the selling off of the YRN frequencies to the highest bidder. The lowering of local content on Kiwi is setting up the conditions for the sale of the frequencies and the establishment of yet another tedious commercial pop station staffed by moronic DJ's.

Faced with this awful prospect public radio campaigners, including Neil Finn. are now campaigning - yet again - for the establishment of the non-commercial YRN.

But given this Government's open hostility to public broadcasting, its not going to be an easy task.

LAZY DAYS

Tony Marryatt is back to his bad old ways. It didn't take long, did it?

'Hard-working' Tony Marryatt left a Christchurch City Council meeting today to attend to a more urgent and pressing task - namely playing golf.

Having seemingly already forgotten that is recent behaviour has not impressed the good people of Christchurch, Sideshow Bob's faithful right hand man left the council meeting to take part in the 2012 Pro-Am Tournament at the Pegasus Golf Course.

The tournament is being held as part of the NZ Women's Open, which starts tomorrow. The Christchurch City Council is a major sponsor of this tournament. Given these financially tough times, why is the council sponsoring golf tournaments anyway?

Despite it being a work day, the half a million dollar man teed off at 1pm. He told The Press that he had taken a half day's annual leave and that he needed 'some balance' between his work and personal life.

Unbelievable.

Barely a few weeks after a big protest outside the Christchurch City Council offices Marryatt is back to his bad old ways. This guy is a total waste of time.

TIBET IS BURNING

While the New Zealand Government looks to open more doors to China, it continues to ignore the plight of the Tibetan people. It has nothing to say about ongoing Chinese violence against the Tibetan people.

New Zealand Government's are so consumed with courting the Chinese Stalinist regime, that they continue to demonstrate a policy of 'see no evil, hear no evil' when it comes to China's miserable human rights record.

A quick perusal of the New Zealand mainstream media reveals that it is more interested in talking about new trading opportunities with China rather than the Chinese regimes appalling human rights record. That is something New Zealand politicians are more than willing to sweep under the carpet and, yes, China can buy the country's dairy farms.

Tibet has conveniently dropped off the political radar of both the politicians and the media hacks , but the struggle of the Tibetan people for national independence continues. China invaded Tibet in 1959.

A day ago a nineteen year old Tibetan monk set himself alight.

He was the 23rd Tibetan to self-immolate in the last year. The Chinese regime describes self-immolation as 'terrorism' Amnesty International has said the spate of self-immolations "indicates a new level of desperation" on the part of Tibetans.

The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has blamed the self-immolations on "cultural genocide" by the Chinese but he has not called for them to stop.

He has described China's policy in Tibet as 'ruthless and illogical'.

The 'self immolations are, in fact, also an attack on the Dalai Lama's 'middle way', which asks the Tibetan people to be patient while exile leaders offer to negotiate with China on their behalf. The Dalai Lama's political view is fast becoming irrelevant. Leaders in the prominent Tibetan Youth Congress leaders have long called for an end to the nonviolent resistance insisted on by the Dalai Lama.

The self- immolations are evidence of mounting unrest in Tibet with protests having broken out in several areas .The most intense have been in Aba, known in Tibetan as Ngaba – a mountainous area of north-west Sichuan that has been resisting Chinese Communist party rule for decades. And 13 of the current 23 self-immolations have occurred here.

However Tibet appears to have vanished from the map as far as the New Zealand Governments are concerned.

A fortnight ago Prime Minister John key unveiled New Zealand's 'new strategy' for China. This strategy can e found in the document 'Opening Doors To China'.

Key called for more trade between New Zealand and China and closer political ties.

"We have a strong relationship with China and have seen good growth in trade over the past few years. The launch of the strategy today will help further strengthen that relationship," Key said.

Key declined to meet the Dalai Lama when he visited New Zealand in 2009.

The new strategy has been welcomed by New Zealand business.

Said David Green, managing director of Australia and New Zealand ( ANZ) Bank's Institutional Sector, "I think we need more New Zealanders to appreciate what opportunities for our country presented by China and doing more business together.'

The Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully told Friends of Tibet(NZ) last year: “ I wish to assure you that discussion on Tibet and on human rights remain an important part of our increasingly comprehensive engagement with China.”

Can McCully point to any discussions with China about Tibet? No, he can't. That's because there haven't been any.

The image from video (above) shows Buddhist nun Palden Choetso engulfed in flames in her self-immolation protest against Chinese rule on a street in Tawu, Tibetan Ganzi prefecture, in China's Sichuan Province Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011.

I HATE THE INDIFFERENT

Antonio Gramsci was born in Ales, Sardina, in 1891. Although born into poverty he was extremely intelligent and in 1911 won a scholarship to Turin University. While a student in Italy Gramsci became involved in politics. He joined the Italian Socialist Party in 1914 and inspired by the Bolshevik Revolution he took an active part in the workers' occupation of factories in 1918.

Gramsci was disillusioned by the unwillingness of the Italian Socialist Party to advocate revolutionary struggle. Encouraged by Vladimir Lenin and the Comintern, Gramsci joined with Palmiro Togliatti to form the Italian Communist Party in 1921.

Gramsci visited the Soviet Union in 1922 and two years later became leader of the communists in parliament. An outspoken critic of Benito Mussolini and his fascist government, he was arrested and imprisoned in 1928.

While in prison Gramsci wrote a huge collection of essays which later established his reputation as one of the most important radical theorists since Karl Marx. In his essays he criticized those who had turned Marxism into a closed system, with immutable laws. He argued that the collapse of capitalism and its replacement with socialism was not inevitable and disagreed with Lenin that revolution could be brought about by a small, dedicated minority. While this worked in a backward country such as Russia in 1917 he doubted it would be successful in more advanced countries in Europe.

In his writings Gramsci emphasized the importance of the way the ruling class controlled institutions such as the press, radio and trade unions. Gramsci believed that the only way the power of the state could be overthrown was when the majority of the workers desired revolution.

Antonio Gramsci died in prison in 1937. His book, Prison Notebooks, was published in 1947 and his theories, that advocated persuasion, consent and doctrinal flexibility, had a major influence on left-wing radicals in post-war Europe.


I hate the indifferent. I believe that living means taking sides. Those who really live cannot help being a citizen and a partisan. Indifference and apathy are parasitism, perversion, not life. That is why I hate the indifferent.


The indifference is the deadweight of history. The indifference operates with great power on history. The indifference operates passively, but it operates. It is fate, that which cannot be counted on. It twists programs and ruins the best-conceived plans. It is the raw material that ruins intelligence. That what happens, the evil that weighs upon all, happens because the human mass abdicates to their will; allows laws to be promulgated that only the revolt could nullify, and leaves men that only a mutiny will be able to overthrow to achieve the power.

The mass ignores because it is careless and then it seems like it is the product of fate that runs over everything and everyone: the one who consents as well as the one who dissents; the one who knew as well as the one who didn’t know; the active as well as the indifferent. Some whimper piously, others curse obscenely, but nobody, or very few ask themselves: If I had tried to impose my will, would this have happened?

I also hate the indifferent because of that: because their whimpering of eternally innocent ones annoys me. I make each one liable: how they have tackled with the task that life has given and gives them every day, what have they done, and especially, what they have not done. And I feel I have the right to be inexorable and not squander my compassion, of not sharing my tears with them. I am a partisan, I am alive, I feel the pulse of the activity of the future city that those on my side are building is alive in their conscience. And in it, the social chain does not rest on a few; nothing of what happens in it is a matter of luck, nor the product of fate, but the intelligent work of the citizens. Nobody in it is looking from the window of the sacrifice and the drain of a few. Alive, I am a partisan.

That is why I hate the ones that don’t take sides, I hate the indifferent.

Indifference is actually the mainspring of history. But in a negative sense. What comes to pass, either the evil that afflicts everyone, or the possible good brought about by an act of general valour, is due not so much to the initiative of the active few, as to the indifference, the absenteeism of the many. What comes to pass does so not so much because a few people want it to happen, as because the mass of citizens abdicate their responsibility and let things be. They allow the knots to form that in time only a sword will be able to cut through; they let men rise to power whom in time only a mutiny will overthrow. The fatality that seems to dominate history is precisely the illusory appearance of this indifference, of this absenteeism. Events are hatched off-stage in the shadows; unchecked hands weave the fabric of collective life – and the masses know nothing. The destinies of an epoch are manipulated in the interests of narrow horizons, of the immediate ends of small groups of activists – and the mass of citizens know nothing.

But eventually the events that are hatched come out into the open; the fabric woven in the shadows is completed, and then it seems that fatality overwhelms everything and everybody. It seems that history is nothing but an immense natural phenomenon, an eruption, an earthquake, and that we are all its victims, both those who wanted it to happen as well as those who did not, those who knew it would happen and those who did not, those who were active and those who were indifferent. And then it is the indifferent ones who get angry, who wish to dissociate themselves from the consequences, who want it made known that they did not want it so and hence bear no responsibility. And while some whine piteously, and others howl obscenely, few people, if any, ask themselves this question: had I done my duty as a man, had I sought to make my voice heard, to impose my will, would what came to pass have ever happened? But few people, if any, see their indifference as a fault – their scepticism, their failure to give moral and material support to those political and economic groups that were struggling either to avoid a particular evil or to promote a particular good. Instead such people prefer to speak of the failure of ideas, of the definitive collapse of programmes, and other like niceties. They continue in their inindifference and their scepticism. (August, 1916).




GERRY CALLS BOB A 'CLOWN'

Bob and Gerry have a bust-up. But is Gerry Brownlee just looking for an excuse to sack the Christchurch City Council and sell its assets?

In a significant new development Gerry Brownlee has lashed out at loyal political ally, Sideshow Bob.

The Minister of Earthquake Recovery has called Mayor Bob a 'clown'. We've been calling him that for years of course but it looks like Sideshow has even managed to get offside with his good mate.

Brownlee comments have been provoked by Sideshow suggesting that Treasury had indicated that there was scope for the city's rates to be increased or for council assets to be sold to pay for the quake recovery.

He said - and this is the crucial bit - that Brownlee could do this under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) Act.

Sideshow is talking nonsense because, under the Cera Act, the Earthquake Recovery Minister minister is explicitly prohibited from directing council to set rates.

Not surprisingly Brownlee is less than happy with Parker's suggestion and has fired a few salvoes back at Sideshow - who is presently in China.

But this could merely be a convenient smokescreen to conceal the fact that the Cera Act gives the Government the power to force the sale of Christchurch City Council's $2 billion worth of assets. Mayor Bob is right about this.

However Sideshow's stupidity has also invited Brownlee to attack the Christchurch City council itself.

Brownlee told the media that he was 'sick and tired of the scrapping' ' between city councillors

"Dealing with this negative, going-nowhere stuff, I am at the end of my tether and frankly it's not surprising that the ratepayers are either," said Brownlee.

All this incident has done is increase the chances of the entire council being sacked and the commissioners brought in. But the Government will have to withstand a significant public backlash.

By installing commissioners the Government would then be in a position to privatise the council's assets.

Orion Power , Christchurch airport, Port Lyttelton and other council assets would all go on the chopping block to pay for the rebuilding of Christchurch and further entrench the neoliberal agenda.

CHEAP SHOT

The Government increases the minimum wage by a risible 50 cents an hour. Welcome to the misery economy.


Forget the spin about raising wage levels to those that can be found in Australia, the goal of those who rule us has always been to permanently lower working class living standards.

Kate Wilkinson's announcement that the minimum wage will rise by a paltry 50 cents an hour provides us with yet more evidence - as if we needed it - of the capitalist agenda. The 'wonderful' New Zealand that Labour leader David Shearer was waxing lyrical about on Waitangi Day is the same New Zealand where the living standards of all but a tiny few have been drastically reduced.

But, then, our parliamentary representatives aren't trying to survive on $13.50 an hour. They're not trying survive on a benefit.

This is the new normal, constructed by the neoliberal regimes of both Labour and National and aided and abetted by a fat and lazy trade union bureaucracy whose idea of 'militant' action is to stick a video on YouTube. Our enemies are not just to be found in Government - they can also be found among those who purport to 'represent' our interests. They preach the poison of compromise and concession, they pour scorn on the very idea of real political change.

Let's be clear.

There will be no return to 'the good times'.

What we have now isn't just the down cycle of an up-and-down economy that will eventually return to the "good old days." We are in a fundamentally different economic environment.

The program of the Government is to push down the wages of all workers, layoff workers in the public sector and make drastic cuts in spending on social programs. The social capital that has been stolen has been transferred to the wealthy.

Joe Carolan, Campaign for a Living Wage organiser, Unite Union has commented:

"Anger amongst the near half a million workers on less than $15ph in New Zealand will not be bought off with the 50 cent increase in the minimum wage today. Our workers in cinemas and fastfoods are voting to campaign for a living wage of $15ph this year. The government increase of 3.8% is a tacit admission that hundreds of thousands of workers in NZ just dont earn enough to live on adequately. Especially when workers in low paid jobs have no security of hours, and have their rosters changed from week to week. Casualisation and underemployment are the hidden scourges of the lowest paid workers in this society, and this problem will not be solved with half a dollar. "

The question to be demanded- again and again - of our union 'leaders' is when are they going to launch a campaign of militancy?

As Joe Carolan says:

'The real solution is for low paid workers to join the union and plan strike action, protests and stoppages in their workplaces. We don't need to wait for another year or election for Governments or politicians to throw us crumbs from the Master's table. Workers are the ones who create all of society's wealth- we can improve our lives if we organise and take action where we are strongest- time to bring the fights to the sites.'



Note: It was interesting to see that neither news shows on TVNZ or TV3 thought the minuscule rise in the minimum wage was important enough to warrant being a leading news story. Indeed, on TVNZ's 6pm news show its second item of the night was a story about Work and Income 'over-paying' benefits. So it looks like John Key can count on having TVNZ in his corner for the next three years.

HAPPY CLAPPY

This is David Shearer. Will you be his friend on Facebook?

The leader of one of New Zealand's main political parties turned up at an explicitly political event - namely the Waitangi Day ceremonies - and proceeded to tell everyone that Waitangi Day was, in fact, 'not about politics'. Apparently he didn't see the police scuffling with protesters. He was too busy looking for the sausage sizzle.

Said Shearer : “Just one day, it’s really nice to wake up in the morning… and say ‘This is our national day, it’s so great to be a New Zealander’.'

What a load of drivel. I was under the impression that Shearer was the leader of the Labour Party, not a spin doctor for the Government.

Yes, 'it's so great to be a New Zealander' when you're out of work, under the cosh from the Government's austerity polices, unable to put enough food on the table.

Really, what the hell is wrong with Shearer? Is he on happy pills or something? He's refused to back the workers at the Port of Auckland and now he's behaving like some lame-arsed host of a TV infomercial.

Shearer's 's main contribution on Waitangi Day has been to suggest changing the honours system so that 'Waitangi Honours' are dished out instead of Queens' Birthday or New Year's honours.

It's a crucial issue. Not.

Frankly I couldn't care a toss how the establishment honours its own, but it seems to be a big deal with our Dave.

So while Shearer disappeared to Fantasy Island for some group hugs, Mana's Hone Harawira was sticking it to John Key and his flunkeys and their plan to privatise some of New Zealand's last remaining state assets.

Meanwhile Dave was enjoying the sunshine and a nice cup of tea...

REGIME CHANGE!



Photo by Ed Muzik.

BIG CROWD SAYS NO TO 'THE BOB AND TONY SHOW'



TV1 News apparently reported a crowd of 1000 but that was an hour ago. Various estimates on the ground put it at 3000-4000.

PEOPLE POWER





The good people of Christchurch protest against the Parker regime at the Christchurch City Council offices.

Photos by Ed Muzik.

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