Workers must fight back against National Government's attacks

The Alliance Party says John Key’s announcement of attacks on working New Zealanders and their unions must be resisted.

Alliance Party industrial spokesperson Trevor Hanson says the union movement must lead the fight back against National’s announcement of policies that will smash the few protections workers have under current employment laws.

He says the intent of National’s attack on working people is aimed at creating a frightened and powerless working class who will be forced into accepting the unacceptable from aggressive employers.

“These changes such as the extension of fire at will and undermining of right of access to workplaces for unions will be a devastating blow for workers if they are allowed to be forced through.”

“National is selling off New Zealand, selling out New Zealanders and pushing us towards the status of a developing nation which will see poverty side by side with grotesque privilege.”

Mr Hanson says New Zealanders must defend our traditional values of fairness and decency before they are further eroded by the greed driven and immoral National Government.

He says the social fabric of New Zealand has been torn apart by right wing policies and deregulation which has created a class of working poor who cannot pay the bills.

Mr Hanson says many workers are surviving on casual jobs from day to day and their desperate situation would become worse if National’s anti-worker and anti-union policies continue.

“These New Zealanders can afford a mobile phone and a second hand imported car, but not healthy food, medical care or houses.”

He says communities have been hit hard by casual jobs, low wages and social disruption from economic insecurity.

“These problems are the result of the dog eat dog policies of successive Government’s who have allowed New Zealand to become an unequal, damaged society.”

Mr Hanson says the Alliance wants to help workers by improving wages, reducing casualization and getting rid of GST.

No Hide(ing) from Water Privatisation

The Alliance is 100 percent opposed to the creeping privatisation of local facilities, especially water, that is being promoted by Local Government Minister Rodney Hide.

Alliance Economic Development Spokesperson Quentin Findlay says that Mr Hide was unsuccessfully trying to conceal the threat of water privatization under the Local Government Amendment Act.

“Rodney can’t hide the fact that private business concerns are going to have the power to turn off the taps for a considerable period of time under the amendments to the Local Body Act.”

Mr Findlay said that the new Act was a “Trojan Horse” that handed multinational companies like the Suez Company and Veolia Environment S.A. access into a New Zealand “water market.”

“Experience around the world shows once private companies are involved in water provision, costs incurred by the taxpayer actually increase. In England, where privatization had occurred, tariffs had increased by 47% in nine years.”

Mr Findlay says the Alliance Party did not want private-public partnerships in water.

“Basic infrastructure such as water and electricity should be in public ownership, administered for the public good by democratically elected public bodies. There should be no private profit from public facilities.”

Local Government New Zealand had noted that some local bodies accepted the public-private partnership model as they were not able to extend or repair existing infrastructure.

Mr Findlay said that while such a concern was understandable, the problem could be overcome very easily.

“Simply, the state could maintain an infrastructure organisation which would undertake infrastructure repair or upgrades such as maintaining, replacing or extending water pipes in areas where local bodies had funding or manpower issues. Such a body would be similar to the old Ministry of Works.”

The Alliance would be prepared to break contracts with private firms and take basic infrastructure such as water back into public ownership.

Alliance campaigns against water privatization plan

The Alliance is campaigning to keep water rights in public ownership through local councils.

Alliance Economic Development Spokesperson Quentin Findlay says a proposed local government bill of ACT MP Rodney Hide due to be introduced to Parliament in February 2010 could privatize water.

Mr Findlay says that the bill aims to have public-private partnerships in charge of administering and supplying water.

“This means the public would bear the costs while the private sector would reap the benefits, through management and supply of water.”

“Mr Hide’s proposed bill is simply water privatization, no matter what ‘spin’ he or the National Party tries to put on it. It involves taking water provision out of the hands of councils and community control and placing it into the hands of unelected contractors.”

Mr Findlay says this approach in other countries meant water supply and provision had suffered with a small number of private firms monopolising the process and ordinary people facing increased costs and poor services.

In the UK, public-private partnerships in water had led to increased costs and allegations of corruption. In Bolivia, privatization of water had actually led to a popular revolt.

“The entire push towards public-private provision has little to do with efficiency and more to do with Mr Hide and ACT serving the wishes of their corporate allies. This is a programme that has failed in every country in which it has been tried.”

Mr Findlay said that the Alliance would be looking at operating an online petition and coordinating with other groups to campaign for public control of water.

He says the Alliance when returned to Parliament would immediately lobby for the public ownership and community control of the country’s water supply and provision.

Dunedin City water plans will unleash a torrent of resistance


UPDATE: Dunedin City Councillor reacts to Alliance:
“Oh for God’s Sake”

The Alliance Party says proposals to push forward user pays water metering will unleash a torrent of resistance from angry Dunedinites.

The Otago Daily Times today reported that Dunedin City Council has warned getting water for free is a concept the public “needs to get away from”.

Alliance Party spokesperson Victor Billot says that the Dunedin City Council “needs to get away from the concept of ramming through right-wing user pays policies with no mandate.” Continue reading

Alliance denounces rent spike in Christchurch council housing

The Alliance Party is supporting the Council of Social Services in its High Court legal challenge to stop massive rent increases for council housing in Christchurch.
Alliance Party Housing Spokesperson and Wigram candidate Tom Dowie says the Minister of Local Government should be stepping in and demanding that the Christchurch City Council hold off with the rent rises until the High Court has made a determination.
“This 24% rent hike is outrageous and will result in hardship at a time of rising living costs.” Continue reading