New Zealand

On September 20, days after the passage of the “omnibus” legislation that enabled the implementation of the federal budget, Minister for Social Services Christian Porter released the Baseline Valuation Report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), as part of the federal government’s “Priority Investment Approach”.

In what amounted to a financial audit of the welfare system, the report focused on the costs to the welfare system over a prolonged period of three categories of recipients: young carers, young parents and students.

I was dismayed to discover that Australia’s Minister for Social Services is turning to New Zealand for inspiration in his latest approach to welfare.

On September 20 Christian Porter announced the ‘Australian Priority Investment Approach’. This draws on work New Zealand’s right-wing National government has done since 2011 on using actuarial estimates of fiscal liability to underpin an extensive program of punitive and pauperising reforms.


Anti-TPP protesters in Auckland.

Amid angry protests in the streets, Pacific rim countries signed the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal on February 4 in New Zealand's capital Auckland.


Protesters occupy Australian Consulate, Auckland, November 11.

I was glad to be part of the November 11 protests, organised by the trade union Unite and by Global Peace and Justice Auckland, at the Australian Consulate in Auckland over their government's policies that have led to the indefinite detention of asylum seekers and Australian residents born in New Zealand in what are in effect concentration camps.


Protesters outside the Australian consulate in Auckland.

Protesters in Auckland have stormed the Australian consulate on November 11 in protest at Australia's treatment of asylum seekers in prison camps, as well as the detention at Christmas Island of New Zealand citizens.

The protest, backed by trade union Unite and Global Peace and Justice Auckland, comes amid an uprising by Christmas Island detainees in the aftermath of the death of Iranian Kurdish refugee Fazel Chegeni.


Demonstration in solidarity with West Papua. Honiara, Solomon Islands.

Indonesian police beat two West Papuan students in Yahukimo, Papua Province, on September 16 for handing out leaflets about the Pacific Islands Forum.

The tasteless joking between immigration minister Peter Dutton and Prime Minister Tony Abbott about the threat of rising sea levels to Pacific Islands — caught on a microphone after the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) meeting — sums up the Australian government's attitude to the victims of its climate inaction.

The 46th PIF leaders' meeting in Port Moresby ended without reaching agreement on a united position to take to the Paris climate summit later this year. Pacific Island leaders could not convince Australia and New Zealand to agree on more ambitious targets.

There were huge protests against the Trans-Pacific Partnership held across New Zealand on August 15. About 10,000 protesters marched in Auckland, 5000 in Wellington, 4000 in Christchurch and thousands more in other parts of the country.

The TPP is a free trade deal being negotiated by countries on the Pacific rim: the US, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, Chile, Brunei, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam and Japan. These countries represent about 40% of global GDP.

Photo: Unite.org.nz New Zealand's Unite Union, which organises fast food, hospitality and retail workers, announced a big win on May 1 with McDonald's finally agreeing to join Burger King and Restaurant Brands and cease using controversial “zero hour” contracts.


Photo: Unite.org.nz.

Striking McDonald’s workers took part in marches and pickets in Auckland, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin on April 15, with many speaking to the crowds and media about the hardship of living with insecure work and income.

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