Why socialists oppose GST

July 1, 2008

We publish below a talk given by Philip Ferguson at a recent Christchurch Workers Party forum.  It is an expanded and updated version of an article originally published in the Spark in 2005 available here.

Most of the parliamentary parties favour tax cuts both for individuals and companies. Indeed, under Labour there has been a small cut in company tax and also tax credits for companies investing in R&D - and, in the latest budget, some personal tax cuts. Although the personal tax cuts are presented in a populist way, as if they would benefit workers, these parties vigorously oppose measures such as substantial increases to the minimum wage, serious across-the-board wage rises and increases in welfare payments to keep up with inflation, let alone living real wages and incomes for people on benefits. And all the parliamentary parties oppose the abolition of GST.

During the upcoming election campaign, one of the minimum platform points of the Workers Party will be demanding the abolition of GST, something that would be done by any government with even a token desire to make life a little easier for workers, especially the poorest workers.

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Spark Audio: The mass movement in the Philippines

July 1, 2008

In this talk Dennis Maga from the KMU (May 1st union movement) talks about the issues facing the oppressed workers and peasants in in the Philippines and the mass movement for change in that country.
Record at Marxism 2008.

Download the MP3

No ties to capitalism

July 1, 2008

This election year the Workers Party is standing candidates in the main centres of the country.

Discussing his candidacy with workmates at smoko time, one of our comrades was challenged:

“If you get into parliament and you’re walking down the road with a suit and tie on and we see you, you might not want to know us any more!”

Our comrade replied: “Mate, there’s not going to be any tie. Look at this publicity photo on my pamphlet. I’m in my overalls like you, and that’s how it’s going to stay. Our party is trying to do something different in this election. We’re not standing for ourselves, and we’re not standing to try and make the system work better. We’re standing 100% for the workers and against the bosses.”

Any Workers Party candidate elected to a position in national or local government will transform their seat into an active organising centre to push workers’ interests. Our members will take a minimum wage sufficient for genuine expenses and put the rest of their parliamentary salary towards the struggle. Successful socialist electoral candidates have already taken this road in Ireland, Australia and other countries.

Socialist parliamentary candidates stand against capitalism, to represent the ideas of the future, and to build the practical struggles of today. Inside this issue of the Spark you can read about some of the ways we’re trying to do that.

If you like the look of our new way with no ties to capitalism, please join us.

Abortion: whose choice is it?

July 1, 2008

- Daphna Whitmore

A High Court judge has sparked debate about abortion rights in New Zealand. Reviewing the committee that oversees abortions, Justice Miller has announced that many abortions are simply not lawful. His sponsors, the Right to Life organisation, are thrilled to have him championing their cause. It may just turn out that Justice Miller has sent a timely reminder that New Zealand’s abortion laws hark back to the dark ages of Muldoon.

While it may seem that abortions are relatively easy to get, behind the scenes doctors have to stretch the letter of the law to provide a much needed service. Over 98 percent of abortions proceed on the grounds that there is serious danger to the woman’s mental health. (Report of the Abortion Supervisory Committee 2007)

The grounds for abortion are extremely narrow and set out in the Crimes Act. It’s telling that what should be a basic right, or at least a right to a health service, is treated as a crime.

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Armed cops no solution

July 1, 2008

- Alastair Reith

The recent series of killings in South Auckland has led to a frenzy of  politician’s calls to “get tough on crime”, and for increased powers for the police and the state in general. While such “law and order” orgies come and go, there are some disturbing concrete proposals emerging from this one, in particular the call to put armed cops on the streets of Auckland 24/7.

The police are recommending a six-month trial period; if the idea is approved by Police Commissioner Howard Broad, the armed patrols could be on the streets of Auckland by March next year.

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Obama: image and reality

July 1, 2008

- Eli Boulton

Much has been made about Barack Obama’s victory over Hillary Clinton in the last remaining Democratic primaries of the United States election year. Numerous capitalist media outlets hailed the outcome as a “tremendous step” for civil rights, while right-wing smear attacks centred on his supposed links with communism or radical Islam (due to his Arabic middle name). Many newspapers have said how Obama’s candidacy has given hope not only to Americans, but to many people all over the world, since Obama is “for the people”.

However, if you go scrape away his populist rhetoric, you will find a very different image of the man.

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Capitalism: not our future!

July 1, 2008

- John Edmundson

One thing we’re supposed to value about living in the capitalist West is “choice”. We can choose our representatives, we can choose where to work, we can choose how to spend our money.

Socialists, including myself, often argue that those choices are an illusion for most people. Under capitalism, real choice exists only for capitalists. So it’s interesting to think about how quickly the capitalists hide behind lack of choice. Margaret Thatcher famously announced “there is no alternative” to ruthless neo-liberal restructuring, the slashing of jobs and wages, and the gutting of British industry. Successive Labour and National governments here have parroted the same line.

This month two of the poor suffering oil companies, Caltex and BP, complained that they had no choice but to put up petrol prices by a second six-cent hike in the space of two days. The first six-cent increase of the week involved all the oil companies. Blaming market forces beyond their control, they announced that the market robbed the oil companies of choice. Shell held out for a few hours before raising its price by four cents. The others quickly followed suit.

Recent discoveries by oil exploration companies off the southern coast of New Zealand means that within a few years New Zealand could be self-sufficient in oil. Will this mean cheaper oil for us? Well, no, actually. The oil will be sold at market prices. The oil companies have no choice.

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Westfield bans union organiser from mall

July 1, 2008

Auckland Unite Union organiser and Workers Party member Jared Phillips talks to The Spark.

What’s the background to this trespass?

Unite union has begun a campaign to get a new set of union agreements in the cinema chains, and to continue re-unionising that industry. The offer from Skycity Cinemas, which is a large chain, was appalling. If we agreed with the company offer, the supervisors, projectionists and gold class staff would dramatically lose their wage relativity against the minimum wage. Of equal importance, the cinema attendants, who are the majority of staff, would get no service pay and no improvements to their security of work.

A trespass order was issued against me during the St. Lukes strike, which was the second strike in the campaign. The trespass was issued by Westfield St. Lukes, which is the firm that operates that mall and many malls in which Skycity Cinemas operates complexes.

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Workers Party talks to union officials

July 1, 2008

Workers Party Wellington Central candidate Don Franks reports on his recent meeting with NZ Council of Trade Unions representatives.

When the local CTU organiser emailed around to say the Local Affiliates Council was going to discuss General Election strategy, I called back and asked for a few minutes to put our case at one of their monthly meetings. They stalled for weeks and wanted more information in writing before they finally gave me a hearing, at the local AGM.

I explained that the Workers Party is standing several electorate candidates this election and we’re also running on the party list. So, for the first time in New Zealand’s political history, every worker will have the option of voting for a socialist candidate.

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A damning report - and a cowardly response

July 1, 2008

- Don Franks

Activist and author Anne Else was the keynote speaker at a public meeting of the Campaign Against Rising Prices held on Saturday June 7 in the Wellington suburb of Newtown.

Anne spoke as a member of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), a non-profit group formed in 1994. CPAG believes that “New Zealand’s high rate of child poverty is not the result of economic necessity, but is due to policy neglect and a flawed ideological emphasis on economic incentives”.

Anne told the meeting about CPAG’s case against the government currently being heard by the Human Rights Review Tribunal. CPAG contends that Labour’s in-work tax credit breaches New Zealand’s human rights legislation by discriminating against children of beneficiaries.

“Current policies ensure that people are trapped in poverty,” Anne said. “The damage done by poverty in childhood never goes away. People are precluded from having a decent life.”

She argued that it is “totally unjust and discriminatory” not to help beneficiaries: “Unpaid work is still work. Bringing up children is work. And it now takes a much bigger investment to produce a child for modern life.”

Anne’s talk inspired this reporter to find out more about the work of the Child Poverty Action Group. Below are some quotes from the CPAG’s legal case against government discrimination of beneficiaries at the Human Right Review Tribunal.

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