April 6th 2002


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Stem cell research: the way forward

The facts behind the 'people overboard' affair

Opinion: The banks' power over small business

STRAWS: Selective amnesia / Slow boat to China / Tower of Babel

TRADE: Sugar price collapse threatens future of canegrowers

MEDIA: Debating points

New Zealand faces winter of discontent

Manufacturing: an endangered species (letter)

Afghan specialities (letter)

The great water debate: facts and myths

COMMENT: Healthy disinterest no bad thing

UNITED STATES: Behind Washington's self-serving free trade rhetoric

Switzerland, Taiwan seek UN membership

HISTORY: Demons and Democrats: the story of the Labor Split

Books: JOHN GORTON: He Did It His Way, by Ian Hancock

MEDIA: Stem cells: what debate?

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New Zealand faces winter of discontent


by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, April 6, 2002

With elections due in New Zealand by the end of the year, the Labour Party may retain government, despite lukewarm enthusiasm for the Government of Helen Clark which has seen a fall in its popularity in the opinion polls.

The largest Opposition Party, the Nationals, has failed to establish a credible alternative agenda for New Zealand. National Party leader, Bill English, languishes with only 12 per cent support as NZ Prime Minister.

The last election was held under a voting system of 120 single-member constituencies. The 2002 election will be conducted under the Multi-Member Proportional (MMP) system, similar to that which exists in Tasmania, with a threshold of 5 per cent.

There are seven parties which have a chance of parliamentary representation, and thus, a coalition government is highly likely.

Because of the National Party's poor showing, and divisions in the Alliance (Labour's coalition partner) which threaten to split it down the middle, one possible outcome is that the extremist Green Party of New Zealand will end up in Government with the Labour Party.

This prospect horrified the leader of the New Zealand First Party, Winston Peters, who recently addressed the Marlborough Sounds Symposium, organised by Agnes-Mary Brooke, on the future of New Zealand.

Speaking in parliament recently, Mr Peters drew attention to the dangers this could cause for New Zealand, particularly in light of the Greens' disruption of National Day celebrations at Waitangi in February, and statements made by a Green spokesman, Annette Sykes, at an anti-Afghanistan war meeting in Rotorua.

Sykes told the meeting, "When I first saw the planes fly into the [World Trade Center] towers I jumped for joy, I was so happy that at long last capitalism was under attack.

"Until, it suddenly dawned on me, what about all those poor pizza delivery boys, those poor firemen, those poor policemen, those poor lift-operators, all those poor cleaners, all those other poor workers who are forced to work for and were trying to save those greedy and horrible capitalists."

She added, "My heart and head were so confused. Happy that some capitalists had been killed and very, very sad for all those who had died while working for them."

Mr Peters said, "We cannot help but ponder the outcome of a marriage between the Labour Party and the Greens, as is so widely talked about as a likely result of this year's general election, simply in order to permit Labour to again form the Government."

He challenged Labour to disown the Greens, and to formally reject any possible coalition with them.

Mr Peters said, "I want to use this opportunity to warn New Zealand voters of how bizarre a situation it will become for all New Zealanders if a future Government seeks out the company of the Greens, in order to obtain power.

"The faces of Sue Bradford and Jeannette Fitzsimons [two Green MPs] singing and chanting their hymns of hate and protest towards the Prime Minister on Waitangi Day this year will also haunt me forever, as no doubt they will for many others, come election time."

The National Party, in contrast, regards the Greens as "wishy-washy", rather than dangerous, and has denounced the establishment of the new Kiwibank as "a dog", because it is government-owned and seed-capital was provided by NZ Post.

The Nationals are committed to Kiwibank's privatisation, as well as that of Air New Zealand, which was recapitalised by the NZ Government with $NZ885 million, after the collapse of its Australian subsidiary, Ansett Airlines, seven months ago.

Labour's coalition partner, the left-wing Alliance Party, is in process of self-destructing, following a collapse in the party's support. Alliance is divided into two factions, one led by its founder, Jim Anderton, and the other led by the Alliance's President, Matt McCarten, who has demanded that Alliance take a more anti-Labour stance, and has disendorsed Mr Anderton's loyal lieutenant, Matt Robson.

Most observers believe that Mr Anderton and two of his colleagues will be returned to parliament, but others risk losing out.

The New Zealand Herald recently observed that the Alliance is heading for collapse. It is uncertain what will happen next; but New Zealand First offers a new agenda for the country.

While supporting a free enterprise economic system, New Zealand First supports a national compulsory superannuation scheme, secure from political tampering, and industry policies which are based on encouraging businesses to engage in import substitution.

As part of such a policy, New Zealand First supports a "buy New Zealand first" purchasing requirement on taxpayer and ratepayer-owned businesses and state-owned enterprises, such as New Zealand Post.

New Zealand First will protect minimum wages, and also give priority to the needs of New Zealand industries and communities in setting any program on tariffs.

"Future tariff removal will be consistent with the policies and progress of our trading partners. We aim to win the export and employment stakes, not some artificial tariff removal race," Mr Peters said.

  • Peter Westmore




























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