Hands off our dial, National!

February 25, 2010

It’s been a busy week here in Wellington; in fact, it’s been a busy month, there seems to be something happening on Parliament lawn almost every day that Parliament has been sitting.

Today, it was a cross-party gathering launching the Campaign to Save Radio NZ, with the catchy title of Hands off our dial. The petition can be found here.

Labour MP Grant Robertson started the speeches off, supported by a swathe of his collegues including Charles Chauvel, Marianne Street, Carol Beaumont, Steve Chadwick, Winnie Laban, and former press journo Claire Curran, who also spoke.
Green co-leader Russell Norman followed Grant on the megaphone, and was supported by Sue Kedgely, with Keith Locke, Cath Delahunty and Gareth Hughes. The very crowded ground in front of the Seddon statue was further addressed by Ohariu MP Peter Dunne, completing the treble of opposition parties represented.

As might be expected, the media were out in force – Radio NZ having no fewer than three journalists present, TVNZ supplying one cameraman, several press photographers snapped away, and quite a lot of keen writers had their notebooks out. Even VUW’s own radio, the VBC, were there to support their fellow radio journalists.

Here’s a few pix to prove we get the odd fine day in the grounds of Parliament….

Grant Robertson leads off.

Grant Robertson leads off.

Crowds on the lawn

Crowds on the lawn

Russ speaking

Russ speaking

The VBC represent for Radio NZ

The VBC represent for Radio NZ

Gareth’s maiden speech

February 24, 2010

Today held a brighter event for me, and for many of the past members of the Greens-at-Vic club, the Young Greens wing of the Green Party, and a whole lot of Greenpeace activists.

At 5.45pm promptly, just after the Speaker, the Hon Lockwod Smith, had regained his seat, Gareth Hughes began his first speech in Parliament. He made much of his status as the youngest MP in the House, but also gave a pretty good overview of where he’s been since he was an 18-year-old Gisborne boy-racer who liked his hamburgers.

The galleries were crowded with family, friends and collegues and most of us trooped in an orderly fashion over to the Green Party floors in Bowen House for a speech or four, some waiata and a few drinks and nibbles with our new ‘man about the House’. Young Arlo Hughes, much referred to in the Speech, amused all of us during the reception speeches by piping up and interjecting, whilst providing the floor-show.

The text to Gareth’s speech is here.

And in usual form, here’s some crowd shots of the reception!

Keith Locke amid a crowd

Keith Locke amid a crowd

another table, more crowd...

another table, more crowd...

Gareth heading for a beer

Gareth heading for a beer

Jacinda Adern, beginning the Youth Caucus

Jacinda Adern, beginning the Youth Caucus

This week’s issue of Salient has a new cartoon by Grant Buist, a former friend of mine. I say former, because this is really going to be the last straw.

You see, the cartoon, which can be found on his blog, has a panel depicting a first-year student in a very short dress, struggling to keep her door shut, on a ‘rubgy player’ – with the caption: she “narrowly avoids impregnation by rugby team during Orientation”.
This cartoon purports to be a 21st century update of Hogath’s famous 18th century series of engravings, “The Rake’s Progress”(background here), and is proposed to run as a serial in this year’s magazine.

Buist has excused himself thus:

Actually, something good that may come out of this would be discussion of the issue I’m highlighting above – many 18-year-old girls get massively shitfaced during Orientation, and are preyed upon. If you look at the crime incident maps distributed by the police (which are sometimes reproduced in Magneto), you can see that many of Wellington’s sexual assaults are committed in dark alleys near Courtenay Place, where hopelessly drunk girls have stumbled while trying to get home. It’s entirely possible, considering how the Orientation issue of Salient is full of advice for first-years, that some girls may read this panel and think “Right. Something to avoid.”

Really, if there’s anyone who should be annoyed, it’s rugby teams.

So, it’s just ‘one more time round the block’ for the tired old argument that ‘girls bring rape on themselves’, and we should police women’s behaviour – not that rapists are criminals, and we should police men’s behaviours.

There’s another good post on the subject here.

If you also find this offensive, please tell the editor of Salient, Sarah Robson, editor@salient.org.nz, as she has already replied to one member of the VUW Women’s Group that she thinks it’s not a big issue. I guess she just doesn’t get the point.

Tuesday saw a combined approach to the ACC Levy and legislation attack from National, by the unions and left-wing groups, as well as a large contingent of bike-riders, co-ordinated by the Kiwibiker organisation, who gathered at Parliament grounds around midday.
The CTU ran a spirited build-up to the rally, with a video on You-Tube, as well as campaign materials being collated by the ACC Futures Coalition here.
Bonus analysis of National spin here.

Green MP and Co-leader Metiria Turei spoke on the forecourt to the assembled protesters, and was followed by speakers from the NZ Counselling professional organisation, as well as Kiwibiker and some union representatives.

Minister for ACC, the Hon Nick Smith, was nowhere to be seen, despite entreaties from the crowd for his presence. Green MP’s Dave Clendon, Kevin Hague and Cath Delahunty stood up to support Meyt, along with a strong contingent of Labour MP’s, even including Opposition Leader Phil Goff for a while.

Union banners were fluttering all over the grounds, representing the NDU, PSA, CTU, EPMU, NZNO, RMTU, and were joined by banners from AWSM and the Worker’s Party. Green Party members and staffers carried pennants and made a brave showing amongst the black-clad bikers.

Green banners a-flutter

Green banners a-flutter

A Ministerial gaggle on the forecourt, the Hon Phil Goff heading off...

A Ministerial gaggle on the forecourt, the Hon Phil Goff heading off...

NZNO banners

NZNO banners

Unionist solidarity

Unionist solidarity

The Rally concluded with a serenade for the assembled protestors from Fatt Max, a Kiwibiker member, who had the crowd singing along to a chorus which suggested a probably anatomically impossible action for the Minister for ACC to accomplish with his new legislation.

Fatt Max from Kiwibiker

Fatt Max from Kiwibiker

Farewell to Jeanette

February 11, 2010

The Green party farewell for Jeanette Fitzsimons was an occasion for laughter, mild criticism of her working habits (Keith Locke admitting to some consternation as the tasks are being shared out, that there are not enough people to get through the extraordinary daily load that Jeanette has carried), and many old campaigners and staff reminiscing about their time in her orbit.

Cath Delahunty ably MC’d, and as such occasions do, this one seemed to have drawn the party feminists out en masse. Yes, there were blokes in abundance, but I don’t think I’ve been to a green event recently where so many women activists of long-standing were networking in corners. As so many stood up and said, we have had a great mentor in Jeanette, someone who has strengthened the influence of women in the party.

Ok, so now some pictures:

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