New Zealand

A national day of action against rape drew thousands of protesters onto the streets across New Zealand on November 16. Outrage continues to grow at revelations police were aware of an Auckland “rape gang”, which posted videos boasting of their exploits on social media, for at least two years, but did nothing.

Recently, an organised criminal group called “Roastbusters” were exposed as a gang-rape organisation who targeted intoxicated and underage girls, then publicly shamed them online.

The police knew about this group’s action since 2011 but failed to stop them. Police claimed they were powerless to act because none of the girls who were raped are “brave enough” to lay a formal complaint. It has since transpired that four complaints were ignored.

The New Zealand government is rushing through the sale of Meridian Energy for NZ$1 billion less than the $3.1 billion needed to reach its goal of raising at least $5 billion from asset sales.

It is moving ahead wit the sale widespread public opposition and criticism ranging from opposition parties to investment bankers.

Meridian Energy Limited, a state-owned electricity generator and retailer, is expected to divest 49% of its shares as part of a government privatisation program.

A leaked submission prepared by a New Zealand government department raising serious concerns about the risk of water pollution to a Hawke’s Bay river has been suppressed by the government, the New Zealand Labour Party and the Greens Party said.

The Department of Conservation prepared a draft 32-page submission on the proposed Ruataniwha Dam. It said the plan poses threats to water quality, habitats and fish species and that reversing damage caused by the proposal would present real problems.

New Zealand celebrities have joined protests against proposed law changes that will remove the right of public consultation on applications for deep sea oil and gas drilling. Law changes will also remove the right to protest at sea.

Actors Sam Neill, Lucy Lawless and Robyn Malcolm, former Supreme Court judge Sir Ted Thomas and many others have joined Maori and environmental groups to condemn the government’s plans.

Trade unions, environmental and Maori groups have united to oppose passage of new laws threatening collective bargaining and basic rights in the workplace.

The Employment Relations Amendment Bill, introduced by the government in April, seeks to remove existing requirements for employers to negotiate collective agreements, and rest and meal break provisions.

A law has been passed giving New Zealand’s intelligence agencies greater powers — despite widespread opposition from human rights groups, private companies and the public.

The newly enacted Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) Bill authorises the gathering of private communications of citizens, including text messages, emails and bank account details without the need for a search warrant.

More than 50 people gathered in the Newtown Community and Cultural Centre in Wellington on May 31 and June 1 for the annual conference of the socialist organisation Fightback.

The sessions were filled with lively and respectful debate across a number of different perspectives within the left on national and international issues.

Fightback 2013 featured speakers from Fightback, the International Socialist Organisation (Aotearoa), the Socialist Party of Australia, and the Australian Socialist Alliance.

After a relatively quiet couple of years, the Unite union, which organises fast food and other previously unorganised sectors, has burst into action with a vigorous industrial campaign against McDonald's.

The key demands are focused around winning a NZ$15 starting wage, an end to casualised hours, a fair and transparent roster system and a number of union-only benefits, most of which have already been won by KFC Unite members.

See also: New Zealand: McDonald's hit by first ever strike in Wellington

As the packed galleries burst into an impassioned version of “Pokarekare Ana” (a well-known traditional Maori love song) in response to the passing of the Marriage Amendment Bill by 77-44 votes on April 17, a crowd of more than 1000 celebrated outside parliament in Wellington.

The vote made New Zealand the 13th nation to legalise same-sex marriage. France has since become the 14th.

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