The government will go to great lengths to claim credit for economic recovery, but any serious economist knows when we have a recession as deep and destructive as Australia’s, of course, the economy will recover.
Josh Frydenberg will pretend that it was his genius that saw it happen, but most economists know that from such a very low base, there will of course be a substantial recovery in quarterly GDP. I don’t think any objective observer of the way the government is implementing this stimulus would say that they are doing everything right. They don’t do everything wrong, but they also don’t have everything right.
We are calling for a wage subsidy and we are happy when the government changes its mind and brings it in, but that doesn’t mean that it has been implemented perfectly. Too many people are excluded. Too many people in the unemployed queue are being intentionally removed from jobkeepers by the government. This means that the unemployment queue is longer than it should be and we will have problems with unemployment and underemployment for longer than we would like.
This week’s political editor Katharine Murphy spoke with frontbencher Victoria Clare O’Neil about the Labor Party’s vision for the Australian workforce. With growing issues including low wage growth, a performing economy and underpayments, how has the government changed the direction of policy during Covid? What major changes are needed to boost innovation, immigration and the climate?
How to listen to podcasts: everything you need to know
New Zealand’s first African parliamentarian has made politicians cry by telling the story of a “hopeful” journey from war-torn Eritrea to a Sudanese refugee camp and eventual government as a Labor MP.
“I am Eritrean. I am a former refugee. I am a Moslem. I am a trade union activist and a living wage advocate. But most importantly I stand here in front of you today as a very proud Kiwi, ”Ibrahim Omer said in his maiden speech after the October election.
He is the second former refugee to become a member of parliament in New Zealand, the first is a member of parliament from Golriz Gharaman’s Green Party, who fled Iran as a child.
Omer’s speech came after Jacinda Ardern delivered a half-hour opening speech in parliament in which she reiterated her election promise to declare a climate emergency, and said her priorities were the housing crisis, managing Covid-19 and child poverty.
“We have always viewed climate change as a major threat to our region, and it is something we must act on immediately,” Ardern said of the climate declaration, which will be inaugurated on Wednesday.
Omer, recalling an initially happy childhood, said the brutal dictatorship killed the dreams he and his compatriots and women had. “I see politics destroying people’s lives and because of that I gave up my dream of becoming a politician,” he said.
Most of my life in Eritrea there has been war.
Omer remembers life without energy, little food, and constant fear and fighting in the streets. In high school, he was recruited into the “no escape” national service.
“I knew I had no choice but to leave before my time came – so my Speaker Mr left everything I loved, my family, friends, my home and my dreams.”
Omer went to Sudan, and took the risk of a crossing where the patrol fighters would shoot to kill. “I would rather risk dying, then dying slowly in Eritrea,” he said.
In Sudan he was accepted as a refugee and was told by the UN that he would be sent New Zealand. Omer knows very little about countries in other parts of the world, but immigration officials tell him it is “one of the most peaceful countries in the world”.
“And that’s good enough for me,” said Omer.
“My early life in New Zealand was not easy,” he recalls, saying he worked as a fruit picker, security guard and cleaner, collecting whatever he could from minimum wage income to send back to his family in Eritrea.
“I do 80 hours a week. Ten years ago all I did was clean, clean, clean, day and night. I have no life, I don’t meet people, I am not active in the community, I don’t have time to think – let alone dream. “Said Omer.
Omer’s life changed when union officials asked him to deliver a public speech about the call for living wages in front of the candidate for mayor of Wellington.
His speeches were empowering, and after a raise, Omer decided to start university, study politics. She continued to work as a cleaner at Victoria University at night while attending classes during the day, often sitting in the lecture hall she had cleaned the night before.
The Christchurch terror attack in March last year was “terrifying”, recalled Omer, and he feared New Zealand would experience violence against Muslims.
Instead, the community was showered love [love] and the Kiwi reaction reinforces her commitment to New Zealand and the politics of goodness espoused by Jacinda Ardern, for whom she is grateful for being a great “personal support”.
Omer said he was pleased that despite disagreements at Parliament House, and having heated debates, New Zealand politicians would then “go out and eat or drink coffee together as friends”.
Omer said he would fight on behalf of workers, refugees and “every New Zealander who is struggling with low wages”, or through a challenging life span. “In reality, millions of people are not as fortunate as me,” he said.
Speaking in his native language, Omer said: “I see you, I feel you, I will be by your side and fight with you.”
Omer’s speech was greeted with strong emotion by New Zealand politicians, some of whom exploded when politicians from every side of the house hugged the new MP, or bent over his nose. hongi, the traditional Māori greeting.
The speaker, Trevor Mallard, had to ask for the order three times before the long line of lawmakers who lined up to hug Omer back to their seats, amid laughter throughout the house.
The deputy leader of the Labor Party, Kelvin Davis, said it was the strongest and most touching girl’s speech he had heard, and Ardern embraced the new lawmaker for a long time.
Omer said he was proud to be part of the caucus “very much like New Zealand”.
In the first month since New Zealand’s October 17 election, the reformed Labor-Green government has shown its pro-business color, as it implements corporate elite demands for deeper austerity measures against the working class.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern last week flatly rejected requests from 59 organizations, including trade unions, charities and poverty action groups, to raise welfare payments before Christmas to tackle mass unemployment and impoverishment.
Through the Aotearoa ActionStation umbrella group [New Zealand], the group published an open letter saying the situation was “urgent.” Families are “pushed into poverty” by job loss under COVID-19, coupled with long-term stagnant salaries and high housing costs. The low level of welfare benefits means that “today, hundreds of thousands of children are limited by poverty, despite the best efforts of parents.”
The letter did not come from opponents of the coalition government but from allies who have campaigned for its re-election – and donated tens of thousands of dollars to Labor, in the case of trade unions – on the false premise that a “progressive” government would be open to pressure from the “left”. In the most amiable terms, the letter pleads for action to “help achieve your vision of making Aotearoa the best place to be a child.”
Ardern responded by ruling out increasing the core benefits. At a post-cabinet press conference on November 9, he stated: “It will not be a problem that is resolved in one week or one month or even one term.” Ardern had promised during the 2017 election campaign that he would lead a “transformative” government dedicated to eliminating child poverty and the housing affordability crisis.
The government’s Welfare Advisory Group in 2019 recommended an additional $ 5.2 billion a year for social welfare, with an immediate increase in main benefits ranging from 17 to 47 percent, and indexing benefits to average wages. The government supports indexation and increases benefits by just $ 25 a week, but rules out further increases as “not fiscally sustainable.”
Labor and Greens, now without NZ First as government partners, were reinstated after Labor won a majority of seats, including many in wealthy areas previously held by the conservative National Party. After two weeks of coalition negotiations, a deal with the Greens was secured to put a false “progressive” face onto the government’s agenda.
A great social crisis is happening. Labor’s pro-business response to the COVID-19 pandemic is similar to the response of other governments around the world. Tens of billions of dollars have been turned over to big businesses and banks, creating enormous debt that will be repaid through austerity and economic restructuring at the expense of the working class.
Radio NZ reported last week that nearly 23,000 people had reached the end of a COVID-19 income waiver payment, with no jobs to go to. Figures from the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) as of the end of October show that only 5,000 were transferred to job seeker benefits. Thousands more who are still looking for work do not qualify for benefits due to strict criteria.
The increase in the official unemployment rate to 5.3 percent in the September quarter is expected to worsen, while demand for food banks has tripled since last year. MSD recorded a 68 percent increase in children aged 16-24 who needed emergency housing assistance between March and June.
According to the new report, Now We Are Eight: Life in Middle Childhood, from the Growing up in New Zealand Study, nearly 40 percent of 8 year olds live in cold, moldy, and damp homes. About 20 percent of the families surveyed did not have enough money to eat properly. Nearly 15 percent of children change schools at least twice, mainly because they have to move between rental properties.
With the social outburst unfolding, concerns were aired in the media that the government was discrediting itself. Television presenter Duncan Garner warned in the AM Show on November 11: “Capitalism is just a place where the rich get richer. But do this wrong and you get a chaotic society. “He punished Ardern for refusing to repeal benefits, stating:” Despite all the slogans and words and kindness, what has Labor achieved over poverty and income at the bottom? Zip. “
Newshub editor Tova O’Brien told Guardian that despite Ardern’s “grand mandate,” the Labor Party’s “politically savvy” would sacrifice its fundamental values, and be motivated by its desire to stay in power. “
In fact, the “fundamental value” of the Labor Party is to safeguard the capitalist order, especially during times of crisis. Ardern’s “kindness” persona, while boasting that the Labor cabinet was the most “diverse” in representation of women, Maori and Pacific Islanders and gays, is being promoted assiduously as the government oversaw the further transfer of massive wealth to the rich.
The Greens issued a statement supporting increased welfare payments. Co-leader James Shaw described himself as “outraged” over rising house prices, calling Labor “irresponsible” for refusing to pay taxes on capital gains. This is an empty play. The Greens, in return for two ministerial posts, pledged to support the government.
The Reserve Bank last week extended its “quantitative easing” program, pledging $ 28 billion on top of the $ 100 billion it has committed to providing banks with loan funds at near-zero interest rates. The money has no strings attached. This is used to increase bank profits and raise house prices – which have risen 20 percent in the past year – through speculators lending. On Tuesday, Ardern flatly rejected calls for the government to step in and control the Reserve Bank.
The Green Labor Party’s pro-business trajectory exposed all of these, especially the trade unions and pseudo-left groups, who promoted them during the election campaign. Funded by the union Daily Blog, who now complains that Ardern “disappointed the Left,” previously glorified the possibility of the Labor-Green-Maori Party coalition as “New Zealand’s most progressive government ever,” poised to implement “radical reforms”.
Trade unions played a cynical role. A line-up led by the NZ Trade Union Council signed ActionStation’s open letter. Yet they have all suppressed any opposition among workers to attacks on jobs, wages and social conditions carried out under the guise of the COVID-19 pandemic, while lauding the government’s billions of dollars in giving to big business.
Following the announcement by Air New Zealand this month that 385 international cabin crew will be laid off, adding to the 4,000 cabin crew who have been laid off with union collaboration, the E Tu union launched a nationalist “Kia Kaha Aotearoa” petition, pleading with companies to stop outsourcing work abroad. .
Company CEO Greg Foran bluntly dismissed the suggestion as not the “best or most feasible business outcome.” A multi-million dollar share offer has been made to Foran and his executive team, which E Tu dutifully claims will “further undermine the airline’s recovery.”
While refusing to revoke welfare benefits, the Green-Labor Party government continues to give cash into the hands of the rich. The country’s major companies, now including the Fletcher Building and Fulton Hogan, have received millions of dollars from a COVID-19 “wage subsidy” scheme to increase profits while firing thousands of workers. Fulton Hogan not only announced an annual profit of $ 222 million, but also provided shareholders with $ 79.5 million in dividends, backed by $ 34.3 million in government subsidies.
Thousands of migrant workers living and working in New Zealand have been trapped abroad since borders closed in March. Unable to return to their jobs and lives, many face severe financial hardship and some have been separated from their spouses and other family members.
The Labor-led government’s cruel treatment of migrant workers exposes media propaganda in New Zealand and internationally portrays Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as an embodiment of kindness and compassion. In fact, Labor and its former coalition partner, far-right nationalist NZ First, have sought to scapegoat migrants for the worsening social crisis.
Thousands of migrants still in New Zealand, who lost their jobs due to the economic crisis triggered by the pandemic, have been denied access to unemployment benefits. Former Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, leader of NZ First, told them to “go home” because the system would not support them, even though the government provided tens of billions of dollars in subsidies to businesses.
Meanwhile, nearly 30,000 people who have applied for residency face delays of a year or more due to Immigration New Zealand’s willful delay in visa processing. Many people now fear they may not be allowed to stay in the country.
In the run-up to the October 17 elections, which saw the Labor Party return to power by a majority of the vote, the major parties and the media remained mum about the plight of the migrants. Immigration policy was not discussed in the four televised debates between Ardern and National Party leader Judith Collins.
As a sign of the continuing brutal treatment of migrants, New Zealand Herald reported on 28 October that Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi had refused a residence permit for Sanaul Elahi, who was injured during the fascist terrorist attack in Christchurch on 15 March 2019. Despite a recommendation from the ministry’s own Immigration and Protection Court that Elahi and his family should be allowed to live in rural. Elahi originally moved to New Zealand in 2015 and has worked as a halal butcher.
A plea recently submitted to the New Zealand parliament urging the government to “allow migrants on current New Zealand visas who are trapped abroad to re-enter the country, or extend their visas.”
It read: “Thousands of us are usually residents and spend nearly a year away from our homes, jobs and in some cases our spouses and children. New Zealand is our home. Our lives are there, and so are our families, jobs, careers, homes, and friends. Please let the hardworking go home. It’s been a long time without access to our stuff. “The petition so far has about 1,700 signatures.
Migrants also hold demonstrations, both in New Zealand and internationally, against the Ardern government’s policies. On Tuesday, the migrants will do it general meeting in New Delhi to demand that “all workers who normally stay in New Zealand, be allowed to return as citizens.”
NZ residents are allowed to return and must spend two weeks in hotels that have been reused as quarantine facilities.
That World Socialist Website recently spoke with Belu, who has lived in New Zealand for six years. She and her husband, as well as their baby, had traveled to the family’s home in Argentina to get married as New Zealand closed its borders. Belu has been separated from her husband, who is from India and unable to stay in Argentina due to visa regulations.
“We started our life, our family was in New Zealand and then without notification, we couldn’t go home,” he said. “It is very difficult because in this country or in India we have to start over from scratch … Right now there is a crisis, we have no homes, we have no property, we have nothing.” The couple still pay $ 600 a week in rent for their home in New Zealand, and have received assistance from their employer thanks to the government’s temporary salary subsidy scheme, until it runs out in September.
Belu believes the government “doesn’t want to lose votes. If they said: all immigrants can come back, all the Kiwis who don’t want immigrants or don’t know the situation will not vote for them. I don’t understand why the media never asks [the government] about that. That’s a very big thing. We are thousands, with our families. “
She said her employers were “desperate” because “they saw the work there to be done and no one was doing it. So why if they need me so badly I can’t come back? “He explained that he was very stressed.” I haven’t slept eight hours in the last eight months. Thank God my mom is with me and my baby, otherwise I don’t know how anyone else does it. “
WSWS also spoke with Swarna, who is currently stuck in India, unable to return to his home in Auckland. Like many others, he had been given a large sum of money by his parents to study and work in New Zealand, which he had paid through remittances. “Both of my parents are retired now, they can’t afford the money,” he said. “Every time the bank will start sending me letters. They can take my house, the only house I have in India. “
Swarna had been in New Zealand for two years when the pandemic hit; he has worked as a security guard and in a public hospital, sometimes up to 72 hours a week. “[Migrant workers] not eating properly, we don’t sleep well, we just work like dogs… we just work, work, work, ”he explained.
He had to return to India to visit his mother, who was seriously ill, before NZ closed its borders in March. Swarna had applied for exemption from Immigration New Zealand (INZ) to return to New Zealand, but was refused without explanation.
Swarna described the government’s “exemption” criteria – which should allow some migrants to return – as “absurd” as most were refused, despite being legally entitled to reside in New Zealand.
He said: “Last night my life just changed and it turned really bad. I have nothing here because I live in New Zealand. My parents were depressed, my mother cried saying: you should not come. I honestly wanted to see Jacinda Ardern in person. I’m so mad at him. I didn’t do anything wrong. He is a person who, in the name of COVID, is in the name of the election. “
Swarna explained, there are still many other people who have experienced a similar situation. “We are not the ones carrying COVID… we are the ones who are punished. I know a boy who tried to commit suicide a few months ago. He ate so many sleeping pills, he was rushed to the hospital. “Swarna urged the New Zealand government:” Allow eligible people to enter. Let them start their life! [Ardern] just stopped our lives, he controlled our lives for eight months. “