Vote Socialist in Mt Albert

iso-fist1The by-election in Mt Albert caused by David Shearer’s resignation from Parliament takes place on 25 February.


This is the first possible electoral test for the National Party under Bill English, but they have bottled-out of standing rather than risk another drubbing after the party’s poor performance in Mt Roskill. Given that National won a plurality in the party vote in Mt Albert in 2014, National are not showing any confidence under their new leadership.


Labour have selected the list MP Jacinda Ardern as their candidate for this shoo-in. This must be queried. It is a typical example of Labour’s elitist and careerist practice of parachuting-in a “name” rather than select a grassroots local activist. Ardern has been Labour’s candidate for Auckland Central where she has whittled down Nikki Kaye’s majority to 717 in 2011 and 600 in 2014. Auckland Central is the most marginal electorate in the country, so why has Ardern abandoned it for greener pastures instead of persevering and giving Labour the best chance of winning back the seat it held almost continuously from 1919 to 2005?

[Read more…]

Solidarity for Sanctuary – no deportations!

1486938549883by Sam Snell

Unionists and members from the wider community came together last Saturday afternoon in a show of solidarity with 9 Indian students facing deportation. The students, many of whom have finished their studies, face deportation as it was discovered that agents in India had falsified documents without their knowledge.

The students were lured to New Zealand under the pretense of being able to live and stay in New Zealand and with the guarantee of a one year “Student job search” visa. With information from websites such as telling students that “You don’t have to come back to India if you successfully complete your studies in New Zealand.” Past, present and future students are being sold the idea of being able to live and work in New Zealand if they only pay extremely exorbitant fees to dodgy tertiary institutions, Visa agents and the New Zealand government.

[Read more…]

Socialist Summer Reading – the Best of 2016

We asked writers, activists and intellectuals to offer picks from their reading and watching this year for others over the summer.

Laura Toailoa


If Moana is the example of the commodification of Pacific cultures by a multibillion dollar multinational conglomerate, then Three Wise Cousins is in contrast, what happens when a Pacific film crew pull every last dollar together and hope there’s enough relatives between them to fill a hired-out cinema.


Three Wise Cousins directed by Stallone Vaiaoga-Ioasa (credited as “SQS”) premiered on Monday 21 December 2015. High ticket sales kept the movie in NZ cinemas for 5 and then took it to the Pacific, Australia, and the USA.


This hilarious movie follows one New Zealand Samoan’s journey to discover what it means to be a “Real Island Guy”. This is a movie explores the sense of belonging and identity in a very moving way, wrapped in comedic humour that I’d grown up with but hadn’t seen before on the big screen.


The off-the-cuff dialogue and perfectly timed visual comedy had me in fits of laughter, the brilliant soundtrack by Andrew Faleatua is perfect for the summertime and the moments of reflection had me looking inward to ask, am I a real island girl?


Laura Toailoa will be co-editor of Salient in 2017.

  [Read more…]

Rallying for Syria

syria-rallyby Josh O’Sullivan

Around 80 people gathered in Aotea square today in Auckland representing different groups supporting the free peoples of Syria and condemning the barbaric and brutal attacks of Assad and his Russian backers. In Wellington on Friday 30 people held a rally outside the Russian Consul to protest Russia’s involvement in the bombings. The crimes in Eastern Aleppo are nothing short of genocide, with Assad’s government forces clearing out the rebels with the help of Russian bombs to attempt to stop the democratic revolution in Syria that have been fighting for their freedom for the last 6 years.

The Syrian uprising began with the rest of the Arab world in 2011, in a wave of revolutionary uprising where dictators were toppled from Tunisia to Egypt. but as we have seen over the past few years the forces of counter-revolution have smashed these popular movements for democracy. In Egypt, the activists and community leaders languish behind bars and suffer the torment of the military dictatorship under El Sisi. The same story can be seen in Syria, Assad met these peaceful protestors demanding democracy with bullets and jail cells. These assaults on the Syrian people split the Syrian army as many units supported the peoples cause.

[Read more…]

NZ First – no party for workers

petersWhy does anyone ever discuss NZ First as a part of the centre-left? That fact the question even needs asked shows what a sorry state we’re in. And yet it keeps coming up. The mainstream political commentators routinely speculate on Labour-NZ First deals. But more worrying is the way this association has crept into the union movement more widely and the activist left. NZ First was a presence at the anti-TPPA rallies over the last few years, and has been welcomed as part of that campaign’s generally nationalist colouring. The party is capable of giving left colouring to itself from time to time, and Andrea Martin in Education is often more coherent and compelling than Labour. But we need to clear – this party is no force for the working class. NZ First is a classic example of right-wing populism, appealing to the unorganised and disenfranchised in the working class, the rural working class in particular, but taking as its base the petty bourgeois. Its programme – anti-immigrant rhetoric and nationalism in the service of local business – is toxic.

[Read more…]

Blame the bosses – not migrants!


Indian students fight deportation in Auckland. Migrant workers are part of the struggle – not victims to be pitied.

by Dougal McNeill

So this month saw the end of Planet Key. Bill English’s ascension gives us an opportunity to survey political possibilities for our movement. There is plenty for workers to feel angry about, and plenty about which the Government has nothing but the feeble excuses. From the housing situation in Auckland to the recent embarrassing back down in the face of union opposition to further education ‘reforms’, the last year has not gone all the government’s way. What has been missing, as usual, is any sort of concentrated opposition. There is the grounds to organise a credible opposition to National – just look at the inequality, poverty, and job insecurity that is the norm in New Zealand at the moment. But, shamefully, Labour have decided to pursue an anti-immigrant line. This is not helping them electorally, with September registering some of the worst poll results for Labour in a long time, and, more dangerously, it threatens to pull the whole 2017 election in a racist direction. This will be a disaster for working people. Instead of rejecting Labour’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, too many leaders in the trade union movement have accepted its logic.


Immigrants are not to blame for workers’ problems, and that we need to focus our political fire where it belongs – at the capitalist class and the National government.

[Read more…]

Blethering Bishops’s Bigotry Blockaded

teach-love-not-fearBy Gowan James Ditchburn

Under the second covenant Jesus died for our sins and God would no longer go around smiting people out of wrath until judgement day. Apparently nobody informed Bishop Brian Tamaki of this. His accusations that LGBT people and their sins are responsible for the Kaikōura earthquake has angered many not only in the Queer community but in the Christian community and the wider public. So it was that a small protest gathered to march on Destiny Church in Wiri, South Auckland, to show the Bishop that his bigotry would not go uncontested. The crowd was small but the energy immense. With rainbow flags, placards and music blasting out from the speakers atop the van we marched on the Church. All the while the Bishop’s own sermons were blasted back at us. Clearly he was a little put out by all this, from time to time between songs he could be heard complaining about those outside.

But while there was a distinct lack of support from inside the church the same cannot be said from those who drove passed. Many people who went passed showed their support, honking horns, waving, thumbs up and giving the odd high five. Indeed, it was not until the service had ended and those inside were going home that we received disapproving looks from those going by. Yet even Brian’s flock could not resist when we started playing YMCA across the car park at them. Braving sun burn and hostility from church goers and Destiny’s own news crew our little protest made itself heard. [Read more…]

Key’s gone – now let’s get rid of National


Stake my future on a hell of a past / Looks like tomorrow is coming up fast / Ain’t complaining about what I’ve got: / I’ve seen better days but who has not?

By Andrew Tait


All aboard for the gravy train. John Key just pulled off another coup, leaving at the top of his  popularity (National just polled 47% to Labour’s 27%), forgoing the chance for a fourth term but avoiding any of the unpleasantness usually involved in leadership transitions.

In fact, if anything sums up his style, it would be avoiding unpleasantness.

John Key leaves as much as a cipher as when he entered office. Sure he’s smart – he was underestimated for years by the Opposition – but he has never shown any substance.

In a world thrown into turmoil by the Global Financial Crisis (a crisis he had a hand in as a banker at Merrill Lynch), Key’s New Zealand appeared an oasis of stability.

None of this had anything to do with his policies. [Read more…]

Labour wins Mt Roskill – what next?


By Josh O’Sullivan


Michael Wood, The Labour Party Candidate has swept the floor in the local Mt Roskill By-election to replace Phill Goff as the new MP for Mt Roskill. His main opponent the National Party’s Parmjeet Parmar trailed behind with a lower percentage of votes than her previous run against Phil Goff in 2014. Michael Wood received 11,170 votes compared to Parmar’s 4652, though as with most by-elections the turnout was much lower than the 2014 election (37% of registered voters voted compared to 73% in 2014.) [Read more…]

Solitary confinement is torture!

npipBy Emma Walker
The UN agrees, anyone with a conscience agrees, even the scum over at the Department of Corrections agree: solitary confine is torture. But change the name, call it “23-hour lockdown” and suddenly Corrections is perfectly fine with it. Well, we’re not. Corrections can pull whatever linguistic stunt they want; the meanings of words are determined by use and what they refer to not, whether those in power prefer to be known as “torturers” or not. Corrections is currently using solitary confinement to torture a trans woman in a men’s prison, her mental health is suffering as a direct result as reported her advocates at No Pride in Prisons. The prison is a violent institution for all it places within its walls. It is rotten to the core. But for trans people this is magnified even further. Systemic transphobia is present at every part of the prison industrial complex.
[Read more…]