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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The hikoi against asset sales begins today

Aotearoa Not for Sale Hikoi begins today

A two-week long hikoi protesting against asset sales, privatisation, overseas land sales and the Transpacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) will begin today in Cape Reinga.

The ‘Aotearoa is Not For Sale’ hikoi aims to reach Wellington on Friday, May 4, after stopping in several North Island towns.

Its progress through Auckland on Saturday will coincide with a public demonstration at Britomart on Queen St, which organisers expect over 10,000 people to attend.
The hikoi, which is open to everyone, “is about standing up and sending a clear message to the Government that we, our land, what's under our land and what's been built on our land, is not for sale”, organisers say.

The environment is once again heating up for the National government who have been floating on Key's popularity to govern despite a raft of very unpopular policies.  National's announcement of asset sales put their relationship with the Maori Party on shaky ground, with Sharples threatening a walkout.  As the Asset Sales Bill has passed its first hurdles, Mana's Hone Harawira together with the Maori Council have put through an urgent application to the Waitangi Tribunal to block asset sales through the protection of Maori rights to water. The announcement of a two-week long hikoi that has the support of Labour, the Greens, Mana, New Zealand First, Greenpeace and many of the unions looks to increase the scrutiny and pressure on National over the asset sales, with the broad support for the movement demonstrating how National are currently stepping on the toes of groups with a broad range of interests.  The march includes concerns of environmental groups, who are alarmed at the secrecy around the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement on trade and its implications for mining, an issue which has previously brought large amounts of numbers out on the streets. If current polls have shown National's government riding high in popularity while more than 60% of New Zealanders oppose the sales, the renewed media attention and investigation that will come over the next couple of weeks could place an increasingly besieged Key government further under the microscope for policy.

That the Maori Council application to the Waitangi Tribunal is focussing on water rights signals potential further headaches for National, whose coalition partner United Future campaigned on partial privatization but not of water, rail, TVNZ or Kiwibank. Peter Dunne has recently demonstrated that he does have the teeth to occasionally step out from under National's wing with his criticisms of National's veto of the Paid Parental Leave Bill, meaning that once the discussion reaches the water privatization provisions allowed for in Rodney Hide's changes to the Local Government Act 2002, National may have quite the fight on their hands with not one but two coalition partners refusing to play ball. Given the difficulty for any government in achieving three terms in New Zealand, this could spell the end for any hopes of an additional term in power. Not only does it diminish National's argument over asset sales which focusses on establishing opposition as a kind of Luddite veto, it will show up the schism in just how different Act and National are ideologically than the other elected parties.

Despite National's strong record in its ability to play hardball with other parties citing the economy as an excuse for their approach to policy, most recently seen in their abandonment of their Memorandum of Understanding with the Greens, there are signs that this is beginning to wear thin. No more so was this evident when English was under fire from Holmes over the Paid Parental Leave Bill, where finally we began to see policy decisions being placed in a matrix outside that shifted from the current mantra of any spending is bad to one where commentators were increasingly positioning government spending as a balance between policies.  In an environment in which the pillars of National's successful campaign against Goff's number flubbers are beginning to look less sturdy (most notably in the Ministry of Economic Development doubting the job creation figures of 170,000 jobs and English's concession that the $5-7 billion generated by asset sales was a figure drawn out of thin air), it is clear that the political climate is heating up and National are potentially in for a larger fight than they previously anticipated. Unfortunately the chances of the Prime Minister being able to ignore the hikoi by meeting a sheep instead are not high this time. Unlike previous hikoi, this is one that has a broad base of political support.

The Aotearoa is Not For Sale hikoi reaches Britomart, Auckland on Saturday 28 April at 3pm.


At 24/4/12 11:01 am, Blogger Gosman said...

National will therefore not even counternance abandoning the partial asset sale programme and it is highly improbable that Peter Dunne will bring down the government on this key issue.

The left wing is just going to have to wait until 2014 to get their chance at being Government.

At 24/4/12 11:17 am, Blogger Chris Trotter said...

Well, possibly. But there are currently very few of the signs we saw in 2004 that the Hikoi is building to a crescendo in the capital.

If you cast your mind back to that event, you'll recall that when the 2004 Hikoi against the F&S Bill reached places like Rotorua thousands of Maori joined the marchers.

All may change if the turn-out on Saturday in Auckland is very large. Unfortunately, that now requires a crowd in excess of 10,000, because the organisers were foolish enough to put that number on their expectations.

This breaks the first rule of organising a protest demonstration: NEVER PUT A FIGURE ON YOUR ANTICIPATED TURN-OUT. Now, if 7,000 people turn out on Saturday, the media will simply say the numbers fell short of the organisers' expectations!

In this regard, the recent poll data worries me. Were National's numbers collapsing, and Key plummeting in the PPM stakes, I'd feel a lot happier about Saturday. That the reverse seems to be happening makes me question whether more that 10,000 people really are ready to put their feet on the street.

If they aren't, and if only 2,000 - 3,000 people show up on Saturday, then the whole exercise will have been counter-productive. The only thing the organisers' will have demonstrated to the Government is their weakness, and, by implication, the public's (reluctant?) acceptance of the Government's partial privatisation policy.

A high-stakes gamble. We'd better all show up!

At 24/4/12 4:23 pm, Blogger Gosman said...

It is all those dodgy landline polls fault Mr Trotter don't you know.

Good luck with getting the numbers because you are right, if you don't get them people like me are going to take great delight in pointing out the failure.

At 24/4/12 5:42 pm, Blogger Tim said...

That's a luvly pose Chris. But are you leaning left or right? Take care media populism doesn't overwhelm principle (just lije it has that luvly man (EVERYMAN's best fren - Jim Mora - you know - that one that hosts "The Panel" - with people like his old mates Jock, Deb, David (Slack),,,,all the "movers and shakers"
But - please - can I complient you AT THE VERY LEAST on your internet image!
Beautiful - sight to behold. Luv ya, and follow ya always! - just as I do half a dozen other media trolls -vNo wait - I'm going to have to ditch that DEEbra lady if I'm to keep it a realistic multitasking finomnom.
Oh....WALLACE!!!!! Where's ya highly relevant Damien Christie mate at a time like this?

At 24/4/12 7:02 pm, Blogger merrilynhope.com said...

I applaud those organizers of the Hikoi from the Far North to Wellington in protest of the Key government's asset sales.

This is the time to act. The Crafer farms have Sir Michael Fay's consortium ready to purchase the farms, but they were turned down. Sir Mike's group are trying again to overturn the decision to sell the Crafer farms to overseas Chinese investors.

Selling off our land to overseas interests is a crazy plan. 'They' will have everything to gain - we will have everything to lose.

A Chinese spokesman said tonight that 'all we want is your milk' - then they should simply buy it, like everybody else. They don't need to own the resource which produces it.

I am picking that the protest against asset sales, to take place in Auckland at Britomart, 3 PM on Saturday 28th April 2012, will be a huge event.

If the weather is good, then we could see 50,000 people or more protesting the government's planned folly.

And even if the weather is rainy and cold, I expect that numbers will still be up around 28,000 to 30,000.

The polls over the last year have shown that the majority of NZers are against asset sales to overseas investors. I am hopeful that the numbers protesting will be representative of the growing numbers of those who oppose the government's programme for asset sales.

Get out there Aucklanders, to join the Hikoi on Saturday to protect this modern-day 'beads and blankets' sale.

We will all rue the day if the government is allowed to continue in its destructive path on asset sales.
Merrilyn Hope

At 25/4/12 8:00 am, Blogger sdm said...

Merrilyn: Given that, with respect to the Crafer Farms, the government is not actually selling any of its assets, do you expect "50,000" people to show up and protest against the Overseas Investment Act. Particularly given that the previous government allowed many purchases to go through.

Perhaps you should protest the receiver, or maybe the lender who has the cheek to what its debt repaid.

Btw: When did Michael Fay become the poster child for the left?

At 26/4/12 3:53 pm, Blogger Chris Trotter said...

Yes, I was wondering that myself, sdm.

Sir Michael Fay? I mean FFS!


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