Dunedin Election Blog
Monday, July 25, 2005
And of course . . .
Today the election date was announced.

It's Saturday 17 September.

The campaign trail starts here . . . (officially).

We already have a good number of leafletters and people prepared to put up an election billboard on their property . . . but we are always looking for more. Please email me at the link in the wee box on your right if you can help out by doing either of these things.

New blog from Dunedin South Alliance candidate
We welcome Chris Ford to the blogosphere . . .

Radio interview with Dunedin Alliance candidates
Dunedin North candidate Victor Billot (that's me) and Dunedin South candidate Chris Ford have a joint radio interview . . .

Tuesday, July 26, 2005: Interview with Marvin Hubbard for 'Community or Chaos' on Hills AM Radio, 1575AM in Dunedin. Time: 11am.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Most people want good health and good education – and they're prepared to pay for it
The majority of voters would be happy to pay more tax to improve health and education.

Yet those same voters may end up voting for politicians who will instead:

(a) slash public spending on health and education, and attack workers to squeeze out more profits for big business (National)

(b) continue to insist that "things are improving" when student debt has ballooned, free trade deals threaten jobs, and poverty indicators such as poor, overpriced housing and foodbanks continue (Labour)

What can explain this strange difference between what people want – and who they vote for?

Is it because they have been lied to and manipulated so often that an attitude of "who cares" has taken over?

But if so – why do they still indicate they value things like publicly funded, collective provision of health and education, and despite constant propaganda from the establishment and media, they are prepared to pay more for good services?

It sounds like there are a lot of Alliance voters out there: because that's what we think too.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Billot bellows?
Some more coverage of the debate at Otago University from the Critic magazine .

My only point of contention is that the students may have been snoring – but this can hardly be blamed on me, as I was up last, and they would have had to sit through the common "bland out" technique that status quo politicians use to take the heat out of an issue. It nearly put me to sleep too.

Sunday, July 17, 2005
Follow the leader – a few observations
One of the great things about the Alliance is how it's a member driven party which is run and organized from the bottom up.

Unfortunately we can't say the same for some of the others. For example, as soon as Winston overdoses on hair gel, what will happen to the New Zealand First personality cult?

The same fate of megalomania seems to have overtaken the Progressive Party – now renamed Jim Anderton's Progressive Party, just in case you didn't know who was running the show. What happens when Jim finally retires? I guess they'll have to change the name again.

Two of the Progressive policies are cutting the corporate tax rate, and their ongoing war on drugs – ideas that position them fairly closely to Destiny New Zealand – or should that be, Bishop Tamaki's Destiny New Zealand Church and Political Party?

Tax cuts socialist style
The following article on the Alliance's tax policy – a central part of our plan to rebuild a society where all people have a good basic standard of living – appeared in many NZ newspapers in the weekend.

Monday, July 11, 2005
Where's the money coming from?
The new Alliance tax policy can be viewed here.

more debate blogging
As my good friend Joe Hendren has pointed out, the debate today is already creating shockwaves in the blogosphere.

This other perspective can be found at Bren's blog.

Debate on campus: the scores
I had a good time today talking to the students down at Otago University who turned up to listen to a debate organized by the Green Party.

Here's my quick summation of the speakers and local candidates who turned up:

Willie Martin (ACT).
Willie came up to me before the debate and introduced himself, seemed like a nice guy. Sadly, however, Willie's writeup on the ACT page reveals him to be completely nuts, raving on about a "Cuba" style Labour Government etc. Forget it Willie – the only thing Cuba about this Labour Government is what goes into their Lambton Quay lattes. Not that I'm any great fan of old Fidel. Presumably Willie prefers more freedom loving Latin American role models, like General Pinochet's Chile – a free market heaven. Anyone who got in the way of the free market there was put in a helicopter and dropped into the Pacific from a great height.
But despite all the tough talk on Willie's ACT party webpage about political correctness (yawn) and getting tough, Willie wimped out big time in the debate and murmured politely that education did have public good elements, and so on, lulling the audience into a polite doze. The ony point in his favour is that he is better at public speaking than the ACT candidate in Dunedin South, who is truly terrible.
RESULT: Disappointing. 3/10 for Willie. My advice: Time to walk the talk Willie. Get out there and tell those whingeing scarfies where to go, then let the market decide at the polling booth.

Phillippa Jamieson (Greens).
I have known Phillippa for some years and like her as a person. She gave a conscientious speech but started out quite middle of the road and then swung to the left when I gave my speech and it went down well with the crowd. This is the problem with the Greens I think. They are trying to position themselves to the left of Labour but don't want to be seen as too "radical" and as a result never mention the fact that their policies are going to cost (someone) a lot of money. This may be because they don't want to scare their middle class liberal voting base who may have to cough up? I don't know. I think their idea of a bonding scheme stinks as well. Generally moving in the right direction but lacking the clarity and punch of the Alliance policy.
RESULT: Good effort but needs more focus. 6/10 for Phillippa. My advice: more Red and less pale Green.

Dr Conway Powell (National)
Conway was another friendly character who came up and shook my hand, full of smiles (that was before the debate though.)
A highly qualified gentleman who picked up his PhD back in the good old days (1973). Once again, lacked all conviction, came across as a liberal one minute and conservative the next. His most interesting statement was that National's education policy was basically the same as Labour's. That's what Bill English said too. Came across as inoffensive but out of touch.
RESULT: Needs to get a bit hard and stop trying to say what people want to hear. Everyone knows National hates students so he might as well be honest and get some points for being upfront. 5/10. In his favour - he didn't blab on for hours.
My advice: Don't give up the day job - being a National candidate in Dunedin means he is on a real hiding to nothing.

Leslie Soper MP (Labour)
Leslie is the archetypal Labour MP these days. A former public sector bureaucrat turned trade union official rewarded for loyalty and helped by the machine into parliament. She made a big deal about how she was a socialist and a feminist in her maiden speech to Parliament, but today in the debate we just got to hear about a hundred minor changes the Labour Government have made to the student loan scheme, which funnily enough still keeps on getting bigger and BIGGER by the second.
So obviously socialism and feminism are off the agenda for this election campaign as Labour "plays it safe" and sticks to looking after the interests of the swinging voter.
Boring overall but she finally showed some teeth and had a go at the Alliance who could promise anything etc because they were never going to be in Parliament unlike the "realistic" Labour Party with the wonderful Dr Cullen etc etc. Then again perhaps a shred of left wing conscience was bothering her.
RESULT: 6/10. Seemed more confident than the above speakers. Gave the usual Labour Party line and ended up annoying people by telling them how good they were getting it with Aunty Helen in charge.
My advice: The Labour Government had a chance to capture the imagination of people by offering a vision. They've failed to build a constituency for change, and have sat on their laurels. Now the turkeys are coming home to roost. If you're going to be a socialist and feminist, don't defend policies that hit at the young, the poor and women - like user pays education.

Of course, being the other speaker at the debate, I couldn't give you a rundown on my own speech. But feel free to leave a comment below if you were there and have an opinion.

Radio One interview mp3
I had an interview on Radio One with Jo today.

You can download an mp3 copy of it here.

Thursday, July 07, 2005
Alliance Workers' Rights policy 2005
The low-down

Increases in profits usually come at the expense of workers. Low hourly rates and the loss of overtime rates mean low-paid workers are worse off in real terms than they were 15 years ago. Workers often work long hours just to make ends meet.

The economy grew 4% last year, but the average worker only saw a 2.7% rise in pay.

Unemployment is at an all-time low, but many jobs are part-time or casual. These workers often miss out on basic entitlements and are easily dismissed from their jobs.

The Alliance increased the minimum wage when we were in Government and we scrapped youth rates for 18 and 19 year olds. But the minimum wage is still too low at $9.50.

The State contracts out health services such as aged care to private providers, or cleaning in hospitals, but does nothing to ensure workers get a living wage and decent conditions.

The next steps

Increase the minimum wage: The Alliance will push for a minimum wage of $15 an hour. We oppose discriminatory youth rates. Everyone (those with jobs and beneficiaries) should get a living wage.

Excessive hours: We will fight for a 35-hour working week with no loss of pay, and immediate introduction of 4 weeks annual leave. Workers should have the right to refuse unreasonable hours or shift work.

Responsible contracting: Where employers get public money to deliver services, we say they should be required to meet national standards in pay and conditions.

Protection for casual workers: We will make sure there are protections for casual and part-time workers and make it possible for them to carry over service from job to job so they qualify for sick leave and parental leave. Casual workers should get a day in lieu if they work on a public holiday like everyone else.

Redundancy: All workers should have the right to a minimum redundancy payment, but many do not have the power to negotiate this. Minimum redundancy should be 4 weeks pay, plus 2 weeks for every year of service.

Pay equity: Pay inequities will be reduced when we have free childcare, after-school care and when the work that women commonly do is rewarded with decent pay.

Paid Parental leave: The Alliance says there should be 12 months paid parental leave for primary caregivers and their partners should have 2 weeks paid parental leave.

National pay and conditions: The Alliance would strengthen collective bargaining to move from multi-employer and multi-union collective agreements to national pay and conditions across industries and occupations. We would remove restrictions that allow free-loaders to get out of paying bargaining fees.

Right to strike: The Alliance supports workers’ right to strike to enforce their Collective Agreement, to oppose lay-offs, to support other workers and for political reasons.

Workplace democracy: Workers should have a say in the way work is organised. The Alliance would push for employment legislation to ensure greater workplace democracy.

Debate at Otago University Monday 11 July
Topic: Tertiary education: public good or private good?

Chair: Steven Sutton, OUSA President.

Speakers: Lesley Soper (Labour), Conway Powell (National), Victor
Billot (Alliance), Willie Martin (ACT), Philippa Jameison (Greens).

Venue: OUSA Common Room (same place as last time)
Date and Time: 1pm, Monday 11 July 2005

Under Labour and National Governments, student debt has grown to over $7 billion, in order to ensure big business and the already wealthy get lower taxes.

The Alliance supports totally free public education to ensure that no person is disadvantaged. This will be paid for by a progressive tax system that means corporates and the already wealthy contribute more to the basic costs of running society.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Radio Interview
I have an interview on Monday 11 July 10.20am Radio One, Dunedin on 91 FM

or for those not in Dunedin, if you have a decent internet connection, you can listen in on streaming internet radio at:

Radio One website

Tuesday, July 05, 2005
G8 protests
It has been good to see people getting involved in the protest against the G8 in Scotland. The current problems faced by the world are inter-related and in the end an international solution is required.

The Scottish Socialist Party have some interesting photos and news at their site, as well as Indymedia .

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