The Guardian February 2, 2000

New Zealand: Simply voting is not enough...

The December 1, 1999, issue of The Guardian reported on the 
election of a Labour/Alliance Party Government in New Zealand. The 
Socialist Party of Aotearoa (SPA) did not stand candidates but supported  
but did not embrace as stated in The Guardian  the two parties' 
policies to work for a Labour/Alliance Government. The SPA concentrated on 
building new political structures and union/community support around those 
progressive points that Labour and the Alliance were promoting. These 
concepts for new political structures provide for union/community input and 
accountability systems as well as re-call provisions for MPs. The essence 
of the SPA's proposal is "to take the main theatre of political activity 
out of Parliament to where it really should be  on the work sites, in the 
streets, and into the community.

The following are extracts from SPA publications explaining proposals and 
also drawing on anti-MAI activist Professor Jane Kelsey's economic analysis 
of 15 years of free trade and investment policies:

Most New Zealanders have now given up waiting for an economic miracle.

One in six New Zealanders, and one in three children, now lives in poverty. 
In the decade from 1986, the median personal income of New Zealand adults 
fell by over 13 per cent. Maori incomes fell most.

Over roughly the same period, the richest five per cent of New Zealanders 
increased their share of the national income by one-quarter, and the top 10 
per cent of the population by 15 per cent  an outcome which Treasurer Sir 
William Birch described as "an inevitable part of increasing rewards for 
effort" and "sending the right signal".

The unemployment rate of over seven per cent is way above the four per cent 
in 1987. There are now 32,000 fewer filled full-time jobs than then, but 
double (243,400) the number of part-time jobs.

Total foreign debt at March 1999 was an enormous NZ$101.9 billion, or 103 
per cent of GDP. The current account deficit for the year to March 1999 was 
around 6.4 per cent GDP, bridged by more asset sales, overseas borrowing or 
erosion of Government reserves.

Meanwhile, profit from foreign investments especially privatisations, 
continues to flow out of the country.

In the year to December 1998, the entire NZ$2.79 billion foreign investors 
earned as profit, plus another NZ$11 million taken out as dividend  there 
was no net reinvestment.

Even the APEC business Advisory Council's chairman, former National Cabinet 
Minister Philip Burdon has conceded that maybe the free market strategies 
hadn't worked and there was a need to debate alternatives.

Real democracy and socialism

The SPA's approach, is not only designed to offset this extreme right-wing 
offensive but also to fulfil a scientific socialist strategy insofar as 
giving practical expression to the vital importance of the struggle for 
real democracy and its relativity to the struggle for socialism.

The more rapid growth of global corporate power requires its local 
politicians to be party to limiting and destroying the people's 
organisations (particularly the unions) and any other form of people's 
democratic structures.

In the material sense the corporates require such a reactionary political 
process so they can finish off privatising all of the publicly owned 
structures, power, water, ports, airports, main roads and so on as well as 
pushing the whole right-wing agenda.

The new form of governance we propose would see a completely new role for 
Parliament and politicians.

Politicians would be required to consult with the relevant sector political 
structures, listening, reporting back and initiating new proposals for that 

Such a situation would assist to develop a new set of politicians who would 
need to be tribunes of the people as opposed to being servants of capital.

New measures needed

New Zealand's whole political system needs urgent restructuring and the 
people on the worksites and in community organisations need more regular 
and direct control over MPs and also need to be able to require any MP to 
face a recall vote and elect a replacement MP.

There is a mountain of evidence that the current political processes are a 
failure when unemployment, health, education, race relations and the basic 
public services (water, power and sewerage) need urgent attention.

Many people are strongly objecting to the conduct of a large number of 
politicians who are either changing parties, changing policies or slanging 
each other in Parliament while people's basic needs remain unaddressed.

Such a new system, needs to completely change the main focus of Government 
from Parliament right back to the people in their various occupations and 
localities and steadily bring Parliament under social control.

Although most New Zealanders are accountable daily or weekly to some form 
of authority a number of MPs will oppose this simply because they are 
beholden to private corporates; nor will they want to face the people and 
make themselves accountable.

Such a new system would develop MPs that favour transfers of corporate 
wealth across to the needs of the people.

Some NZ$20 million per day of New Zealanders' wealth goes overseas to the 
global corporates' bank accounts. Money we need in New Zealand country for 
jobs, health, education, housing, the environment and so on.

Proposed new structures

* Main social sectors such as health, education, housing, eldercare and 
each major industry, small businesses and farming would have a specific 
structure in each region meeting regularly.

* These structures would be composed of representatives democratically 
elected by the sector organisations involved and legislated for and 
resourced by government and/or local bodies.

* The sector conferences should have regular report backs from the 
Ministers and MPs on the progress made in regards to implementation of the 
strategies developed at the sector conferences.

* Provision would be made to require the electorate MPs to submit 
themselves to a re-election process if the majority of the sector 
conferences deems their performance inadequate.

For more information visit the SPA website:

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