Dunedin Election Blog
Monday, May 30, 2005
MP3 download of "fire and brimstone" speech
Here is an audio version of my speech from last Friday at the Otago University political forum where I went up against Pete Hodgson, Bill English and Rod Donald. The one in which the Otago Daily Times described me as "breathing fire and brimstone." I take that as a compliment!
It is an mp3 file, about 4.8 MB, so recommended only for those with faster internet connections, unless you're very patient.
Saturday, May 28, 2005
Television interview with Victor
Those of you with faster internet connections will be able to check out the local TV channel coverage of the Otago University debate including an interview with myself
Alliance breathing early fire into election
From the Otago Daily Times, 28 May 2005, page 5
Breathing early fire into election
by Neal Wallace
The main political parties may not have been in campaign mode at the University of Otago yesterday, but Alliance Dunedin North candidate Victor Billot came out breathing fire and brimstone.
It was all very low key for the 150 mainly students who attended the public meeting with four political candidates at the Student Union, until Mr Billot launched an impassioned assault on behalf of students, workers and lower classes, who, he said, were being trampled on by the current free market policies.
He was the only speaker to attract sustained applause in what was otherwise a lacklustre meeting which, without an election date, was without real focus.
Dunedin North sitting MP, Labour's Pete Hodgson, National Party education spokesman Bill English and Greens co-leader Rod Donald also spoke on the level of student debt and tertiary policies in general.
Three are signs the election is looming, with Act New Zealand leader Rodney Hide, also visiting the city this week.
Mr English said Labour and National differed little in their policies towards the $7 billion of student debt.
He said Labour had taken for granted that they had the student vote and student leaders had not badgered the Government on the level of debt to turn it into an election issue.
National believed student debt contained few student votes for them.
"We are not going to promise the earth. We are not going to get into a student auction over debt," he said.
Mr Hodgson said the Government had made changes to the scheme to make it more affordable, while Mr Donald said his student daughter worked five nights a week to keep her debt under control.
A Green Party Government would introduce a student allowance equivalent to the unemployment benefit, debt write off for graduates staying and working in New Zealand, a cap on courses and an emergency unemployment benefit for students.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Child poverty in New Zealand
Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG)'s annual post-Budget breakfast heard on Friday that following this year’s Budget measures our child poverty levels, recently estimated as among the developed world’s bottom four, will continue to be unacceptable for a comparatively rich country like New Zealand.
Economist Susan St John says: Is it any wonder that despite a sustained economic boom the Auckland City Mission’s foodbank parcel numbers have doubled since 1998? CPAG considers that current levels of reliance on foodbanks like those run by ACM are totally unacceptable in a food-producing country like such as ours.
Read the rest of the article here.
Only a radical change in our priorities as a society will ensure that we can overcome this situation, that is ignored by well-off politicians and "decision makers" because it doesn't affect them.
Read the Alliance policies here.
Alliance on the airwaves – this Friday 11am
Prior to appearing at the Otago University forum debating Pete Hodgson and Bill English this Friday, I am being interviewed on Radio One at 11am on the political news show.
Local listeners can tune in on 91FM or if you're further afield get the Radio One live stream off the internet.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Alliance takes on the political establishment at Otago University
The Alliance will be showing how its different from the Labour/National Party this week at Otago University.
The Alliance will be represented at the first of OUSA's election year forums, to be held in the Otago University Union from 12-1pm on Friday the 27th of May. The topic of the forum will be tertiary education, with the focus on student support.
Speaking will be:
Pete Hodgson (Labour)
Bill English (National)
Rod Donald (Greens)
Victor Billot (Alliance)
ACT, United Future, NZ First and the Maori Party can't make it along. Obviously they're not too worried about students.
Thursday, May 19, 2005
Number 8 . . .
Well it has been a busy time lately. Last weekend I was up in Christchurch for a national planning meeting for the election.
I'm pleased to say that as well as being Alliance candidate for Dunedin North I am also number 8 on the party list.
You can read about the rest of our candidates here.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Good press in Gisborne
I've always found that some of the provincial newspapers in New Zealand actually have a much more open-minded approach to politics than the papers in the so-called sophisticated metropolitan areas.
This article in the Gisborne Herald shows some good insight.
Mauled last time out the Alliance is far from being a spent force
by Iain Gillies
Wednesday, 11 May, 2005
THOUSANDS of workers were sorry to see the mauling the Alliance received in the 2002 election.
The party seemed to self-destruct but appears to have picked itself up to contest this year’s election with 12 constituency candidates and a substantial party list.
Missing will be the party’s high-profile politicians which gave the Alliance 10 seats in Parliament in 1999 until its disastrous split before the last election.
But its fundamental policies remain unchanged, focusing on left-wing economic bread-and-butter issues.
It expects to field a party list of about 30 candidates, to be finalised at a national meeting in Christchurch on May 14-15.
It is also likely to opt for two co-leaders, one of whom could be party president Jill Ovens of Auckland, an organiser for the Service and Food Workers Union.
Gone are the days when the Alliance represented a group of constituent parties comprising the Liberals (now defunct), the Green and Democrats (now standing in their own right), Mana Motuhake (possibly aligned with the Maori party) and NewLabour.
Though NewLabour has been formally dissolved many former members represent a solid core in the Alliance.
As a founding member of NewLabour, and now Dunedin North candidate for the Alliance, Victor Billot says: "We’re no longer an alliance of parties, but the name is an identifiable brand.
"I think the parties were united by what they were against rather than what they were for; in advocating a strong opposition to the new Right."
The Alliance is now only a small player, but it is a descendant of the ideals of the original Labour Party.
Today’s Labour Party talks Left and walks Liberal. Its message to traditional supporters must leave confusion in its wake. Some say it is a pragmatic approach, but it doesn’t ring well with many.
The Alliance is advocating policies which are quite different, not just a different shade. While Labour seeks to manage society in a slightly different way, the Alliance seeks to transform it.
But it has a hard row to hoe.
Monday, May 02, 2005
May Day Dunedin coverage
The following article about May Day events appeared in the Otago Daily Times on Monday 2 May 2005.
Supermarket workers press wage claims
Supermarket workers are the latest to target a 5% wage increase, launching their campaign on May Day yesterday.
National Distribution Union (NDU) retail sector secretary Judy Attenberger said its "fair share" campaign followed good profits for supermarket owner Progressive Group.
"This is an Australian company . . . and 70% of what they make goes offshore. We want a share of that profit that's been made over the last few years. It's not that they cannot afford it."
The Progressive Group owns Woolworths, Countdown and Foodtown supermarkets.
In Dunedin, May Day was marked with a gathering in the Octagon addressed by trade union, Alliance and Green Party speakers, as well as a representative of the University of Otago based group International Socialist Organization.
Dunedin North candidate for the Alliance Victor Billot told the small crowd the widening gap between the rich and poor in New Zealand was a concern.
A recent study out of the University of Otago Wellington School of Medicine had shown higher mortality rates among poorer New Zealanders, Mr Billot said.
It was wrong that people on lower incomes died sooner and had a lower life expectancy.
May Day, International Workers Day, marks the occasion in 1886 when American trade unions went on strike for the eight hour day.
National Party industrial relations spokesman Wayne Mapp issued a press release saying workers would be better off campaigning for a tax cut than taking part in strike action.