New asset sell-off by Labour govt in NZ

Philip Ferguson plf13 at
Wed Dec 11 20:30:07 MST 2002

Below is some stuff that appeared on a couple of left lists in NZ today.

Nick Kelly, was expelled from the Labour Party for speaking out against
the war on Afghanistan.  he then ran against Labour cabinet minister
Paul Swain in the elections and got 375 votes as an independent.  Nick,
who's 21, is the only left-wing person I've come across in the NZ Labour
Party in the 8 years since I've been  back in NZ.  And he got expelled
by them quick smart over the war on Afghanistan.

Air NZ was privatised years ago - can't recall if it was by Labour in
the 80s or National in the 90s (they're indistinguishable).  Private
interests stuffed it up and the government had to rush i with a $NZ800
million helping hand last year and took a chunk of shares in return.
Now, they are trying to rush through a sale to the Aussie airline Qantas.

A couple of politicians mentioned in my post, for those non-familiar
with NZ.

Winston Peters is a former minister of Maori Affairs in the early 1990s.
 He subsequently founded the NZ First party, whose main plank is
opposition to Asian immigration.  NZ First has 13 MPs in the 120-seat
parliament.  Peters is a populist who combines an appeal based on
Keynesian economics with anti-Asian campaigns.  Peters' party has two
main support bases - former Tory-voting old-age pensioners and Maori.
(NZ First captured all the maori seats off Labour in the 1990s; although
Labour has since got them back, NZ First still has a big Maori vote,
Peters is a Maori lawyer and a number of his MPs are Maori.)

Lianne Dalziel is the minister of immigration in the current Labour
government.  She's one of their typical yuppie MPs.  Private girl school
education, trained as lawyer, etc.  She has been busy, when not getting
pissed as a newt, tightening up immigration controls against Asians and
throwing in the odd dawn raid for good measure.  Her husband, another
Labour yuppie, made a dick of himself by making some dubious remark
about Asians at a public meeting which was being televised.  Dalziel
herself had the most sour expression on her face imaginable.

On the TV news just after they showed this a TV reporter asked prime
minister Helen Clark to comment.  Clark didn't look too happy, and said
something like "I don't think she can be blamed for what her husband
says, I have enough trouble controlling mine." (Which isn't quite true,
as Clark's husband is totally under her thumb; she even fired him when
he got in the way back in the 1980s when she was minister of health and
introducing prescription charges and closing down more hospitals than al
the other ministers of health in NZ history combined.)

The most free-market party in NZ, ACT NZ, which drew its inspiration
from von Hayek, is currently campaigning against the new immigration
restrictions introduced by Labour and attacking them (rightly as it
happens) as racist.  Basically, Labour has tightened up the language
requirement as a way of keeping out Asians, especially poor Asians.

Nick Kelly wrote:
> I see my favourite Labour Cabinet minister is about to privatise Air NZ by
> selling bits of it to Qantas. At the same time he's allowing the commuter
> trains in Wellington to go down the tubes by refusing to renationalise NZ
> rail.
> Despite the claims of Pseudo-Lefties, Paul Swain and this Labour government
> are Neo-liberals and put the interests of monopoly capital before people.
> Anyway below is link to this "debateairnz" site about this issue.
> Nick

Yeh, it's funny how some on the left just won't give up the idea that
Labour is some kind of "workers' party".  Like the Soviet Union was a
"workers state" of some sort!

It literally doesn't matter to some people on the left what Labour does,
they will still support them at election time.

One of the most interesting things about the Air NZ sale that shows how
Labour is really a party of capital is the indecent haste with which
they are proceeding to the sell-off.  Like we said at 'revolution', the
government buying into Air NZ was not some kind of nationalisation, but
a helping hand to private capital, which had managed to fuck up Air NZ,
and that when the company got going more smoothly again thanks to the
government bail out, they would sell it off again.  They do this because
they are business lackeys.  But they're not even ordinary business
lackeys -   the way they're trying to rush through the sale is an
indication they are *enthusiastic promoters* of business interests.

At the same time, I think we need to be careful about how we oppose the
sale.  Unfortunately a lot of the opposition to the sale is heavily
permeated with NZ nationalism and hostility to Qantas because it's
Australian.  It's immaterial to the interests of workers whether private
ownership of companies is in the hands of Aussie or NZ capitalists.  One
of the last things we need in this country right now is people playing
the nationalist card.  Best to leave that to Winston Peters and Lianne
Dalziel (and her husband).

Philip Ferguson

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