Students, workers, beneficiaries and activists gathered outside the Skycity Convention Centre to protest against the National government’s budget and its continuing war on the poor. Over 150 people turned out to voice their anger at National’s rule for the rich and the damage already done by the government. Chants such as ‘stop the war on the poor’ and ‘what’s the story filthy tory? Out! Out! Out!’ were chanted with such enthusiasm that a worker came down from the 22nd story of his office to join in the protest.
The budget once again focuses on keeping New Zealand in the ‘black’. This has little meaning to the thousands of students saddled with thousands of dollars of debt, the working poor who are ever increasingly having to go to loan sharks and food banks just to make it by, and beneficiaries who are being evicted from their homes and even caravan parks because they can’t afford rent, bills, and food. Although New Zealand has very relatively low national debt our personal debt is some of the highest in the world and National continues to ignore this fact. By keeping national finances in the ‘black’ they are keeping those at the bottom increasingly in the ‘red’.
Auckland Action Against Poverty worked alongside student activists to organize this lively protest with the majority of people meeting at Auckland University beforehand to march down to the Skycity Convention Centre where Prime Minister John Key was to be giving his post budget address. A Business Circle spokeswoman said just under 900 people attended the address. Members paid $375, while non-members were charged $550, once again indicating that National’s allegiance is to the rich.
Although we were unable to keep these parasites from attending the address we blocked them from using the main entrance and made our voices and opinions heard. There were many organisations at the protest with banners and people representing the Service and Food Workers Union, First Union, Unite Union, Labour Party, MANA Party, International Socialists, Socialist Aotearoa and Greenpeace. People gave rousing speeches on their experience with the Glen Innes State Housing occupations and expressed their anger at the last six years of attacks on workers, beneficiaries, and students.
3News described the protest as ‘incredibly violent’ just before a line of running police knocked down protesters. I’m not sure what their definition of ‘incredibly violent’ is but it certainly wasn’t the protesters who were the violent ones. The large police and security presence with their usual pushy and aggressive selves shoved and threatened many protesters. To make sure they knew exactly what we thought of them we chanted, ‘Army of the rich, enemy of the poor’, which is exactly what they were. Once again they were protecting the rich and powerful from hearing the dissenting voices of the poor.
While many were disappointed that Key didn’t show his face, I am pleased our presence outside the Convention Centre made him cower and flee to the safety of the back entrance. The message was clear: Fuck you John Key, it’s time to go!
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