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.
Three-term prime minister, sir John Key has made a call to wake up the New Zealand National party, asking its members to look in the mirror for answers to why he suffered a devastating defeat in October’s election.
“We have to be honest enough to admit that our own failures played a role,” he said at the party’s annual meeting at the weekend. “If we don’t admit it, if we don’t take responsibility for it, then we won’t learn from it.”
Labor, led by Jacinda Ardern, won hands down while National suffered its worst defeat since 2002, gaining only 33 out of 120 parliamentary seats – 23 fewer than in previous elections. The rate of land shift is reflected in the fact that the Labor Party won the party vote (voters elect voters and parties) in all but one of the country’s 72 constituencies.
The national fortunes have not been helped by two leadership changes in less than three months and a series of leaks leading up to the election. Noting the latter, Key said in his speech: “If you can’t stop leaking, here’s a clue – get out of the party.”
Key, one of the most popular leaders in recent history, warned the party not to expect the public to tire of Ardern and his government falter. “It’s called the hope strategy and I don’t think hope is a strategy, because if we sit around waiting for Jacinda to make a mistake then we won’t win the election in 2023.”
In subsequent media interviews, Key added that the Covid-19 pandemic has provided the government with an “unprecedented” platform to communicate with the state, but that National must take responsibility for its own actions.
The party has failed in many ways, from a change of leadership to leakage to division. “All of that was punished very harshly by the voters.
“If we want to be silly enough to continue the kind of game that has been played recently, then.” [the media] going to report them and we only blame ourselves, “said Key.
Key’s comments, who voted to step down in 2016 after eight years as prime minister, followed national party president Peter Goodfellow’s speech accusing the media of “clickbait” coverage of the election, and the Labor government of the “tyranny” of the Covid-19 response.
Key fired (and then rehired) current National leader Judith Collins from his cabinet during his time but said he would make a good prime minister. “[She is] tough operator; people want that. “
Just as Key’s friendly nature earned him a reputation as the type of person Kiwi would like to invite to barbecues, Ardern’s attractive personality changes the fate of his party.
The Socialist Equality Group (SEG), a supporter of New Zealand’s Fourth International Committee, held a public webinar on November 8 entitled “For a socialist program against the right-wing agenda of the New Zealand Labor government.” The meeting debunked propaganda portraying Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s government as a compassionate and progressive government, and highlighted New Zealand’s growing integration into the US war plan.
Its chairman, SEG member Matthew Carrington, began by pointing out that the meeting was held during the historic crisis of democracy in the United States. Earlier in the day Joe Biden finally announced victory in the US presidential election four days earlier. Seated President Donald Trump refuses to give up and has made the unsubstantiated claim that he lost to “voter fraud.”
Cheryl Crisp, national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party (Australia) stressed that, contrary to the claims made by Jacobin and another pseudo-left organization, Democrats do not represent lesser crime. Biden is preparing a “form of national unity administration” with direct Republican involvement. Crisp points to the outburst of anger by leading Democrats against socialism, highlighting the party’s ruthless hostility to any policy to tackle social inequality.
Crisp explained that Democrats underestimated Trump’s threat of a coup and his push for fascist militias, because “they are so much more afraid of the movement of workers and young people than of carrying out Trump’s fascist coup.”
The two sides “approached the pandemic from the point of view not of saving lives but of saving profits,” said Crisp. Democrats support the Trump administration’s multi-trillion dollar bailout for big business – its main response to the pandemic – while rejecting serious steps to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Nearly a quarter of a million people in the US alone have died from COVID-19 and poverty and inequality are rising as a result of this bipartisan policy.
SEG member John Braddock explained that, contrary to Ardern’s description of New Zealand as “an oasis of calm in a chaotic and difficult world”, the country is not isolated from the worsening global economic, social and geopolitical crisis. In the past three years, the Ardern government has increasingly integrated New Zealand into US preparations for war against China.
The Trump administration openly intervened after the 2017 New Zealand election, through its ambassador, to support the formation of a Labor-led coalition that includes the NZ First Party, right-wing nationalists. Washington prefers the Labor-NZ First government because both sides have opposed strengthening business ties with China previously led by the National Party.
Braddock pointed to the Ardern administration’s recent move to redeploy the air force to Japan as part of a US-led military siege on China and North Korea, and Ardern’s praise for an increase in US coast guard vessels in the Pacific region. “The discussion about increasing the US presence in the Pacific goes completely behind the backs of the population during the election campaign,” said Braddock.
SEG’s Tom Peters outlined the Ardern government’s pro-business response to the pandemic, reflecting responses from the US and other governments. Tens of billions of dollars have been turned over to big businesses and banks, “creating enormous debt that will be repaid through austerity and vicious pro-business restructuring.”
Peters denied these claims Jacobinand the International Socialist Organization that the re-election of the Labor Party was a “victory for the left”. “This trend writes as if the Ardern government’s attacks on the working class over the past three years have never happened and they pretend that everything has improved,” he said.
Speakers provided an overview of rising poverty, including falling incomes, rising unemployment, increased demand for charity, soaring house prices and rents, and entrenched homelessness rates.
Peters noted that workers had tried to counter the Ardern government’s austerity policies, with a national strike in 2018-2019 by teachers and nurses, but this historic act was betrayed. “In New Zealand, as in every other country,” he said, “the main obstacle is the trade union bureaucracy, which works with the help of the pseudo-left to subdue the working class onto the Labor Party’s capitalist agenda.” Salaries for health workers and teachers, and staff in hospitals and schools, remain effectively frozen.
A new eruption of revolutionary class struggle is inevitable, Peters said, but workers must prepare by making conscious political breakthroughs from the corporate trade unions, the Labor Party, the Green Party and their supporters. The necessary political leadership, based on socialism and internationalism, must be built. “That is why joining our party is the most pressing political task facing those at this meeting who agree with our analysis,” concluded Peters.
The report raises several questions from audiences, including about SEG’s support for a lockdown in response to the pandemic, and about the differences between Marxism and reformist proposals such as those put forward by economist Joseph Stiglitz. Responding to the last question, AMPL writer Nick Beams explained the bankruptcy of Stiglitz’s call for the ruling class to change its mindset and adopt a gentler form of capitalism. The alternative facing workers is not reform or revolution, but revolution or counter-revolution, he said (see also: The deception of “progressive capitalism”).
In response to other questions, Braddock explained SEG’s opposition to two referendums on euthanasia and legalization of cannabis. Socialists cannot support euthanasia while the health system, elderly care is dominated by the demands of profit, he said. Euthanasia is being promoted while governments around the world are letting elderly people die of COVID-19, and right-wing commentators argue they are too expensive to survive.
Braddock said legalizing marijuana was wrongly promoted, especially by the Greens, as a progressive step to stop young people being victimized by police. In fact, the aim is to make the drug more widely available to divert the attention of working class youth from the political struggle against capitalism. Crisp added that socialists are against criminalizing drug users, but not legalization. “Our struggle is to raise the level of consciousness, the level of awareness, among the youth and the working class; the role of marijuana, the role of drugs and alcohol is to kill it, ”he said.
Another audience asked about SEG’s position on the government’s anti-immigrant actions. New Zealand Draconian border restrictions meaning he had been separated from his partner, who was trapped abroad, for over a year. Meanwhile, “film crews, billionaires” and other special people were allowed into the country.
Peters argued that the Labor Party shared NZ First’s anti-immigrant position, and blamed migrants for the social crisis. The SEG calls on the “working class in New Zealand to defend the rights of immigrants,” who make up a large proportion of the population. The strategy of the ruling class is to divide immigrants from other workers to prevent resistance to austerity, militarism and attacks on democratic rights.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Election victory in New Zealand has been glorified by JacobinMagazine, a false-left publication associated with the Socialist Democratic Party (DSA), a faction of the Democratic Party.
An article entitled “Jacinda-Mania Is Not Enough for New Zealand, Māori, or Environment Workers,” by Ben Peterson, an official at NZ FIRST Union, declared the Labor Party victory “a victory for the entire political left, brimming with the prospect of victory. next. “The government, said Peterson, could be pressured to make” radical changes “to improve the lives of workers.
Apart from a few left-sounding phrases and some light criticism, the article basically echoes a publication like New York Time and Nation, which praised the Ardern government as “progressive” and “inclusive”. Although Peterson did not mention the upcoming US election, Ardern was widely presented as a model for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, whose right-wing and pro-war campaign was supported by the DSA and Jacobin.
With the capitalist system in its worst crisis since the Great Depression, triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, Jacobin regards New Zealand as evidence to suggest that capitalist governments can still carry out progressive reforms. Among Democrats and their supporters, New Zealand appears to have replaced Sweden as an example of a “socialist democratic” country. Sweden can no longer serve this purpose since its government spearheaded a “herd immunity” policy that allows the spread of the coronavirus. It has been adopted by ruling classes around the world, resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths.
However, presenting the Ardern government as a left-wing alternative is a total forgery of its records since 2017.
Peterson praised Ardern’s response to the pandemic, including the relatively tight lockdown, but without mentioning that it was only implemented in response to mass pressure from the working class, including health workers and teachers. An online petition demanding the lockdown drew tens of thousands of signatures, raising the specter of a growing labor movement independent of trade unions that opposed the lockdown until the government finally imposed it.
The article also glorifies Ardern’s economic response, stating that “the wage subsidy scheme and other forms of stimulus [kept] unemployment was much lower than originally estimated. “
In fact, the Labor-led government is leading the biggest attack on the working class for generations. In just a few months, unemployment has skyrocketed from about 4 percent to a real rate well above 10 percent. And it is likely to climb higher, with the prediction that New Zealand could experience a second recession next year. Median income has plunged 7.6 percent this year, the first drop ever recorded.
Government stimulus packages, like in every other country, provide tens of billions of dollars for big businesses, while the Reserve Bank prints up to $ 100 billion to buy bonds from banks and shore up their profits. Financial and business circles have welcomed The Labor election victory saw him more stable than his rival National Party and better able to implement the drastic austerity measures that would be needed to pay off the debt accumulated by saving the rich.
Large companies, which receive millions in so-called wage subsidies, tax breaks, and other government assistance, have rendered thousands of workers redundant. Trade unions have played an important role in working with employers and the government to prevent an organized movement against layoffs and pro-business restructuring.
Peterson’s FIRST Union, for example, recently told workers facing redundancy at retail chain The Warehouse that they could not go on strike and instead issued fruitless pleas to the company to reconsider its plans to fire as many as 1,080 people. The union then encouraged workers to re-elect the government which had subsidized The Warehouse’s wages of $ 67.8 million.
Peterson falsely claims that workers have won significant profits in the last three years. She stated that following the national nurse strike in 2018, the government “dramatically increased the salaries of nurses and added hundreds of more staff to wards.” The strike, part of a revival of the working class struggle in New Zealand and internationally, was strangled by the trade union bureaucracy. The New Zealand Nursing Organization imposed a hugely unpopular deal that included no significant staff increase and a pay increase of only 3 percent, effectively freezing wages relative to the cost of living.
The ruling elite clearly anticipates a further escalation of class struggle, which the Labor government and trade unions will be tasked with suppressing. The new government is already showing signs of nervousness about what to implement. Although the majority of Labor as a whole allows it to govern itself, the party is engaged in two weeks of talks to reach some sort of agreement with the Greens. Labor, it seems, feels that it may be necessary for the Green Party to project a false “progressive” image as the government launches its right-wing agenda.
Significantly, Jacobin made no mention that New Zealand was a US ally or that Ardern had strengthened ties with the Trump administration. His government labels China and Russia as major “threats” to the international order and is spending tens of billions on upgrading and expanding the military to be integrated into US war plans.
In 2017, Labor only came to power thanks to a coalition deal, which the US ambassador publicly endorsed, with the NZ First Party, a racist party that has repeatedly demonized Muslims, Chinese and Indian immigrants. The Ardern government imposed class-based restrictions on immigration and attacked migrants during the pandemic, including by refusing to provide unemployment benefits to the thousands of people who lost their jobs.
Jacobin spewing media acclaim for Ardern’s response to the March 2019 massacre of 51 Muslims by fascist terrorist Brenton Tarrant. According to Peterson, Ardern showed “genuine concern” for the victims and “his response was an important rejection of racism and xenophobic politics,” even though Tarrant’s anti-immigrant excrement closely resembles Ardern’s ally – NZ First.
Peterson falsely described NZ First as a “center-right populist” party and made no mention of the racist positions or anti-immigrant policies adopted by the Labor Party. This is no accident: the unions in New Zealand, like in the United States, are steeped in nationalism and xenophobia. FIRST Union, despite feigning concern about the exploitation of migrant workers, repeatedly scapegoat migrants for lowering wages and taking jobs “New Zealanders should do”.
The circumstances surrounding the Christchurch terrorist attack have been deliberately shrouded in secrecy, with the royal commission of inquiry being carried out entirely behind closed doors. But it is clear that the attacks could only have occurred because police and intelligence services in Australia and New Zealand ignored threats of repeated violence by fascist groups and by Tarrant himself.
The Ardern government’s primary response to the massacre, namely Jacobin support, has introduced greater power for the state to censor “extremist” content on social media – a force that is certain to be used against left-wing groups and workers.
Jacobin His position in the Christchurch massacre is in line with his efforts belittling the dangers of fascist violence in the United States, including a Trump-inspired plot to kidnap and kill Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The magazine aims to sow the complacency of subjecting workers and youth to big business political parties, whose policies create the conditions for the growth of the right: Labor in New Zealand and Democrats in the US.
The cheerful response of the international pseudo-left to Ardern’s re-election exposed the gulf that separated them from true socialism and internationalism. These groups represent part of the middle class, including the trade union bureaucracy, whose aim is to improve their position in capitalism at the expense of workers.
Workers and young people internationally should not be fooled by promotions by the pseudo-left of the NZ Labor Party and the Green Party. Ardern will form a right-wing government that is sure to come into conflict with the working class, which will seek to counter the historic assault on their living standards, and against the threat of war and right-wing groups. Exposing lies Jacobin and similar publications are essential for building the necessary socialist leadership in preparation for future revolutionary struggles.
The Socialist Equality Group (New Zealand) invites readers of the World Socialist Website list to attend our upcoming webinar, to be held at Zoom on Sunday 8 November at 16:00 New Zealand time, on the results of New Zealand’s election.
Speakers from the SEG and the International Committee of the Fourth International will discuss the right-wing agenda of the re-elected Labor Party and the need for a new socialist and internationalist party. They will refute the fraudulent claims made by the corporate media and pseudo-left that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s government represents a better and progressive alternative to far-right governments in other countries.
The meeting will examine the context in which the elections are taking place: the unprecedented crisis of global capitalism triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. A new wave of class struggle is erupting, in response to more than a million deaths and mass impoverishment, caused by governments prioritizing the benefits of big business over life and human well-being.
The government responded to the left working class movement with authoritarian methods of government and by encouraging fascist forces. Donald Trump’s threat to use such force to stage a coup in the US is just the most striking example of this universal trend.
New Zealand is in no way separate from this development. The Ardern government has transferred tens of billions of dollars to big businesses and banks. New Zealand companies are undergoing a vicious restructuring, sacking tens of thousands of workers. Unemployment, poverty, homelessness, and inequality surged to levels not seen in the post-World War II period.
Following the Christchurch massacre in 2019, the Labor-led government has stepped up its efforts to deflect anger over the social crisis by scapegoating immigrants and fomenting nationalism. It also strengthens New Zealand’s alliance with US imperialism, as Washington prepares for war against targets including Iran, North Korea, Russia, Venezuela and China.
A re-elected government, in which Labor has the majority of parliamentary seats, will deepen right-wing attacks. Trade unions and pseudo-left organizations are trying to obscure this reality and to disarm the workers by sowing illusions in the Labor and Green Parties.
These illusions will be shattered by the reality of inequality and worsening social reactions. The working class and the youth will fight, as they have done for the last three years, against austerity, police brutality and militarism. But this struggle cannot continue without a clear socialist perspective and leadership, completely independent of all the capitalist parties, the trade union bureaucracy and their defenders of the false left.