Pike river mine mass killing

November 24, 2010

As we learned this afternoon, the rescue we hoped for will not take place. Because of a second major explosion the miners at the Pike river site are all almost certainly dead.

Hard questions remain to be answered and there will be a struggle for the truth to see the light.

As that inevitable struggle unfolds, there are two positive ways workers can respond to this mass killing. One is to donate to the relief fund for the bereft families and community.

The other way is for organised labour to get its bottle back, so that we’re better organised to prevent future fatal industrial accidents  killing our friends, sons and daughters.

The union role in the Pike river disaster has been marginal. The one time it was openly advanced, the boss class closed ranks and drew their claws.

Senior Cabinet Ministers rounded on Australian journalists covering the Pike River coal mine crisis, labelling their questions “disgraceful” and branding one a “tosspot”.

Police Minister Judith Collins this afternoon heaped scorn upon Ean Higgins, from The Australian, for some questions he asked at a media conference this morning.

“Frankly, those journalists need to sit down and think about what they’re actually doing. What they are doing is they are cheapening the work of other journalists working in Greymouth and they are absolutely not respecting the terrible time the people of Greymouth are going through,” Collins said.

Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee earlier blasted Higgins as “boorish” for asking why a “local country cop” was leading the rescue operation.

Collins said the question was “disgraceful”.

What caused all this rukuss?

Foul mouthed Australian Ean Higgins had employed the “u” word.

Higgins  asked why Superintendent Gary Knowles was heading the rescue operation instead of a mining union.

Police superintendent Knowles then asserted that the disaster “wasn’t a union matter”.

If Knowles is right on that, then unions are irrelevant and should stop collecting dues and shut up shop.

If Knowles is wrong, Kiwi unions need to find the guts to stand up and show why we deserve to take up space.

Review:Mates and Lovers

November 24, 2010

In advance of Ronald Trifero Nelson’s theatrical adaptation of Mates and Lovers: A History of Gay New Zealand, Spark correspondent Ian Anderson reviews the original book.

The Spark November 2010

Chris Brickell’s Mates and Lovers: A History of Gay New Zealand is an essential book for anyone interested in local social history. The first book of its kind focused on New Zealand, the book draws on court records, personal collections, press coverage and various other sources to map out the changing social formation of “homosexuality,” as it was dubbed in Europe over the late 19th Century.

As Brickell explains, that very word “homosexuality” did not reach popular discourse in New Zealand until the mid 20th Century. With that in mind, the book covers the shifting roles that men who have sex with men have played in society, and the shifting language to describe these roles. Read the rest of this entry »


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