Rail campaign Dunedin meeting attracts positive public response

A public meeting in South Dunedin to support the campaign to build new trains for Auckland in New Zealand workshops attracted around 50 people on Monday 12 July 2010.
The message they heard was that Dunedin people will have to stand up and fight to make this goal a reality, with this years local body elections and next years national elections providing an opportunity to apply political pressure.
Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) Hillside Branch Secretary Les Ingram, who works at Hillside, said an estimated 500 to 1200 extra jobs and nearly $500 million dollars in income were at stake.
“Dunedin cannot afford to let opportunities like this pass it by if we want to provide jobs for local people in the future.”
The RMTU were continuing their campaign and wanted to get across to the public how building rail units locally would provide a massive boost in jobs and income.
The Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ) is supporting the RMTU campaign and MUNZ General Secretary Joe Fleetwood, visiting from Wellington, addressed the meeting on free trade issues.
He told the audience that they needed to get behind the Hillside workers campaign and demand that politicians listen.
He said the push for free trade policies was largely responsible for the situation where jobs were threatened due to unbalanced economic policies.
Both speakers agreed that the notion that New Zealand did not have the expertise to do the rail work was discredited nonsense.
Mr Ingram detailed previous work done at Hillside and his view was backed up by a retired engineer in the audience who recounted the many large scale projects other Dunedin firms have undertaken in the past.
The meeting was chaired by Victor Billot of the Alliance Party who said that highly skilled, high value jobs that would be created through building trains locally were exactly what was needed in New Zealand at the current time.
The approach of the National Government was reprehensible, he said.

Looks like we just free traded away our freedom of speech

The Alliance Party has denounced the physical attack today on Green MP Russell Norman on the steps of Parliament.

Alliance Party spokesperson Victor Billot says that the incident involved Chinese security officials who had clearly assaulted a representative of the New Zealand people engaged in legitimate peaceful protest.

“If a MP can no longer stand on the steps of New Zealand Parliament and register his views without being roughed up, then we might as well lower the flag and put up a sign saying OUR PRINCIPLES SOLD TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER.”

Mr Billot says that the free trade rooster had come home to roost and New Zealand was learning the hard way that “free” trade had some interesting effects on real freedoms.

More disturbing than the incident itself was the response of John Key.

No serious harm came to Dr Norman, but the symbolism of the incident was not lost on anyone, with the exception the Prime Minister.

“On being questioned by media about an MP being assaulted up by agents of a foreign power, the Prime Minister of New Zealand started to quack about how he hoped it didn’t ruin the official visit, meaning of course the free trade deals.”

The remarkable thing about the response of the Prime Minister is the deep hypocrisy of his attitude.

The National Party has always been outspoken about the rights of the individual and the evils of “communism.”

The great irony is now when a left wing MP defending freedom of speech is attacked, and the National Prime Minister is clearly more concerned about profits from free trade with “Communist” China than any old fashioned democratic values.

At the end of the day, it turned out that all the patriotic, freedom loving National Party was worried about was money.

ENDS

For more information, contact Alliance Party spokesperson Victor Billot on 021482219

Fonterra nightmare is a poison mix of corporate failure, free trade and state corruption

The Alliance Party says the response of New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra and the Government to the Sanlu disaster in China is looking increasingly inadequate, on the back of further revelations that toxic products have been known about for several years.

Reports in the Chinese media suggest Sanlu, with a 43% Fonterra shareholding, knew it had a problem as far back as 2005.

Alliance Party national spokesperson Victor Billot says the management, approach and response of Fonterra to the crisis has been shambolic, and says New Zealand should consider offering medical treatment to the poisoned children. Continue reading

Alliance attacks Fonterra on Chinese child poisoning

Alliance Party spokesperson Victor Billot says New Zealand’s largest company Fonterra must be held to account for the death and illness of children caused by products manufactured by their Chinese joint venture partner.

Fonterra has a 43 per cent stake in Shijiazhuang Sanlu Group Co Ltd, which ordered a product recall on September 11 after the death of at least one child. A further 432 babies are sick with kidney damage.

Mr Billot says that there are inconsistencies about Fonterra’s claim that it asked for a product recall in August 2008.

New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra says it knew in August its Chinese joint venture partner was selling contaminated milk since linked to the death of at least one baby.

He says that as a major shareholder, Fonterra management are responsible and must be held accountable. Continue reading

Alliance says free trade will harm working families, a balanced economy and political independence

Alliance Party trade spokesperson Victor Billot says free trade with China will cause major problems in the years ahead.

He says early analysis indicates the Government has fudged labour rights issues in the free trade agreement despite commitments made to Unions.

“This free trade deal will see growing inequality between New Zealanders as the benefits of free trade will be confined to sections of big business, while workers in many sectors will see pressure on wages and conditions.”

“There is nothing free about free trade, which is a PR term for corporate and state control in the interests of a global big business elite that will make us a lot less free as citizens.” Continue reading

Alliance Party says new Air New Zealand air crew email to customers a "crass bribe"

The Alliance Party has slammed an email letter to Air New Zealand customers where CEO Rob Fyfe dismisses extensive media coverage of underpaid Chinese air crews as “misleading” and offers “ludicrously low fares” to China.

Alliance Party co-leader Victor Billot says the letter’s contents are “crass and patronizing.”

The email from Air New Zealand CEO Rob Fyfe praises the abilities of Chinese air crew – while stating that Chinese crew “are paid on a par with their New Zealand-based counterparts on an hours-worked basis.”

Mr Billot says “Rob Fyfe knows his Chinese air crew are unhappy. That’s why they talked to the press. There is nothing misleading about media reports on this scandal. The underpaid Chinese air crew who spoke out took a major risk to do so as they do not have access to independent trade unions or media coverage in their own country – a situation Mr Fyfe would no doubt like to see duplicated in New Zealand.”
Continue reading

Free trade deal behind gagging of Olympic athletes

Alliance Party co-leader Victor Billot says the Labour Government’s desperation to sign a free trade deal with China is behind a high level decision to stop athletes from commenting on political issues at the Beijing Olympics.

“It is fascinating to watch the levels of hypocrisy a Labour Government will go to fit in with the free trade deal, which is what lies behind their silence on any issue to do with China.”

Mr Billot says the actions are part of an ongoing trend to shut down dissent. Continue reading