Dunedin Election Blog
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Campaign on camera
Blogger.com have just launched their new image upload function . . . so now I will be able to post some snaps of the campaign in action. Here's one of Alliance list candidate Bob Harrison (on left) and myself campaigning down at the Otago University a little while back. More to follow.
The Alliance and Education
Here is an article I recently contributed to Gyro – the student magazine at Otago Polytechnic.
The two student leaders down there seem switched on. Rachel Dibble, the polytech student president, came along to put some tough questions to the politicians at the recent forum at Otago University.
And the Otago Polytech students vice-president Natalie Absalom writes in Gyro:
"We need a Government that is prepared to invest in education and sadly Labour is not going to do it on its own conscience. Therefore I would personally advocate a party vote for the Alliance, the Progressives, the Maori Party and perhaps the Greens is a vote well spent."
And below you will read why the Alliance is the best choice of those four . . .
The Alliance sees education as one of the central investments and public goods that New Zealand can spend money on.
The Alliance is the only party that supports totally free public education.
This means that all education from early childhood to tertiary (university and polytech level) will be publicly funded.
The Alliance in Parliament would fight for the abolition of student fees.
The Alliance supports universal student allowances at the level of the unemployment benefit (which would be considerably higher under an Alliance Government.)
Student debt is out of control and an Alliance Government would write off all student loans and cancel the student debt, with an immediate goal of cancelling interest payments.
It is terrible that students are having to borrow money to pay the rent and buy food.
Our policies would have a cost. Where does the money come from?
Labour and National Governments in the last twenty years have cut the amount of tax paid by the rich and by large companies.
They have transferred the cost of education, that is vital for a economically secure and democratic society, onto those with no or little money – often younger New Zealanders.
So students have in effect paid for tax cuts to big business and the rich.
Half a million New Zealanders have borrowed well over $7 billion under the Student Loan Scheme since it was introduced by the National Government in 1992.
The average student today owes more than $18,000 and the student loan scheme is riddled with inequity. Young people from low-income families are under-represented in tertiary education.
The Alliance would fund our policies by raising tax on higher incomes and on business profits.
We would also save money by cutting Government funding to many private education providers.
We expect that many of the students who benefit from free education will earn good incomes, and then contribute back to the cost of a free education system. through a more progressive taxation system.
The Alliance estimates that the amount of money we need to spend to implement the Alliance policy of fully funded public tertiary education, including a living allowance for all students, is $1.15 billion.
This is not an expensive option when you consider the social benefits.
Instead of investing the Superfund overseas, we say it should be invested in our younger generation.
By doing so we would rebuild the trust between generations – we promise to look after our young people, to educate them to their fullest potential, and in return they would contribute through taxation to superannuation and the other important costs of running a civilized society.
This is the only fair solution. Otherwise working class and low income New Zealanders will be priced out of education. The Alliance is the party which stands for fairness and equality.
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Introducing Chris Ford
My friend Chris Ford is running in Dunedin South for the Alliance, and it's good to have someone of his calibre on the same ticket in Dunedin. He is also number twelve on the Alliance Party list.
Here is a letter of his published in the Otago Daily Times yesterday:
The downgrading of our health and aged care services continues under Labour. First it was the denial of $2.2 million to the Montecillo War Veterans Home. Second, it was the effective privatisation of the District Health Board's laboratory services. Now it is the plan to close Otago's 66 so called 'old-fashioned' dental school clinics. Where will it end? National cries crocodile tears over the downgrading of health and aged care services. Will their tax cuts for the rich help anything - the answer is no. And nor will Labour's indifference and inaction over health, especially when there are budget surpluses.
Chris Ford, Alliance candidate for Dunedin South
If Don Brash is mainstream, then we are in serious trouble
Normally I believe in keeping positive, but today I am feeling like I need to express myself in a different way.
The reason for this is the fact that a lot of people seem to believe in a thing called a "tax cut."
A tax cut when offered by someone like Don Brash is a simple concept.
What it means is that millionaires and corporate managers will receive huge amounts of money back, and people on moderate incomes will receive small amounts of money back.
In exchange, public health services are slashed, student fees skyrocket, social welfare declines and crime grows as people become desperate, children grow up in poverty, the gap between the mega-rich and the ultra-poor widens, and we generally get to exist in a squalid, selfish, fearful and brutal system while the big money is siphoned off to the global corporations who now own everything.
What a great tradeoff.
And who is the visionary behind this scheme, the leader who will forge the path to the promised land?
I have come across this product of the comfortable post-war welfare state before.
Don Brash came along to my journalism class one day. A man whose idea of heaven would be . . . low inflation.
Let's remember that, strangely enough despite his attacks on public servants, Brash was a highly paid bureaucrat himself – insulated from the harsh realities of the free market that he wishes to drop on the rest of us.
My question is, for New Zealanders:
What do you not understand about Don Brash?
These people simply DO NOT CARE is hundreds of thousands of people miss out on the basic standards of a decent life.
They believe in a world of where profits come first, a small wealthy elite live in ostentatious privilege, and the working people learn their place as hard working cogs in the machine, scared to put a foot wrong in case they lose even the little they have.
Do people not remember what has happened in this country over the last twenty years – or do they not know?
The people of New Zealand have been fleeced. We are slowly turning back to a dark past where inequality and injustice was how it was – something that the human race has slowly been pulling itself out of as working people have slowly gained the right to live as human beings rather than as drudges.
Brash is a hyprocrite of the worst kind, pandering to ignorance and fear simply to gain votes. Whip up racism against refugees fleeing from torture and brutality. Whip up hatred against anyone who doesn't fit into his square box view of reality.
Whip up hatred against trade unions who protect low paid workers. Whip up hatred against the people whose land you stole and funnily enough wonder if they can have a little bit of compensation. Whip up hatred against the people you import as cheap labour for factories but who are no longer required by the system. Whip up the narrow-mindedness, the blame, the hate, the fear, the anger, against the sick, the marginalized, the struggling.
The funny thing is, I guess I fit the format of the "mainstream New Zealander" Brash must want to appeal to.
I'm white, male, straight, university educated, on a reasonable income, and have a short haircut. Yet I absolutely despise everything he stands for. The pinched, self-righteous moralism. His obvious narrow experience of life, where he feels comfortable in denouncing and harrassing people whose struggle for existence he simply would not be able to comprehend.
It is a vision of reality that goes back to the nineteenth century.
Let's face it – that is what the National Party, at heart, is all about. They were formed in the 1930s to keep the working people down. They are motivated by the basic tenets of selfishness, fear and social snobbery. Their mission in life is to "keep us in our place."
But the people who Brash attacks can unite and advance our plan for the future: a world where everyone has a place, where everyone is entitled to dignity and a good standard of living, and where we are valued as human beings not as money-making units for corporations.
That is why we should get active and fight for a better society – and why I am standing for the Alliance Party.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
A copy of the latest Alliance newsletter can be downloaded in pdf format here