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OK, so that’s a Thatcher reference, but it seems appropriate this week.

While we’re in this lame duck week in Aotearoa, the week between the announcement of John Key’s resignation as PM, and the election by the National caucus of his successor on Monday 12th December, I just want to put down a few thoughts that have come up over the past two days.

Eight long years.

I graduated PGDipArts in 2008, and envisaged working in gender policy analysis in some Ministry or other, after I got a handle on some health problems that came up when I was finishing my diploma papers. Then National swept into power, and the policy analysts who had been guest lecturers to my Hons-level class were pushed out the doors of MSD Head Office right after Paula Bennett swept in as the new Minister in early 2009.
They both got jobs in Canberra and left the country, their qualifications and expertise appreciated by the Australian administration, at least.

I was suddenly in limbo. I wrote a bit, recovered some of my energy after a diagnosis of low thyroid function, and started a course of appropriate medication. I wrote book reviews, Ministerial complaints about the conduct of WINZ branch staff, blogposts, Select Committee submissions.
I wrote a Master’s thesis proposal, and it was accepted in June 2009. I started work on anethics Committee Research Application, and applied for a round of scholarships. Read more about how that went bad here.
I watched friends graduate the PhD’s that had been underway before GWS was threatened with closure, playing photographer for a friend at the last VUW Graduation Parade involving GWS School in December 2010.

I kept campaigning on Green politics, and writing about social policy issues from a feminist perspective.
Things got worse in Wellington; a transgender friend was so hounded and bullied by bigoted WINZ frontline staff that she took her own life in October 2012. This was just weeks after some successful transphobia-busting actions at Fairfax’s Wellington offices, and glitter-bombing Germain Greer for her transphobic statements at the Writer’s & Readers’ Week event at the Embassy Theatre. Ashley’s funeral was a very sad and angry gathering of her friends from Queer Avengers, who had to listen to family members misgender and dead name our friend, the ultimate in transphobic family behaviour. We walked her coffin across Willis St to the Wilson Funeral Home, and consigned her to eternity.

A helluva lot of Queer and Trans* support work grew from that, especially programs for LGBTI+ youth, but it was a bitter price to pay.

I left Wellington and moved to the Waikato, giving my Master’s thesis another go. Surprisingly, I encountered a bunch of deeply unethical behaviour from one supervisor, who it later became obvious was a fully-paid-up TERF.
My research into radical feminist activism was not an area she was familiar with, neither was my research methodology, oral history interviewing. After a lot of disagreements, and an ethics application that was incorrectly edited by a supervisor who failed to read the 2013 ethics committee guidelines ( freshly revised, which I followed, but had edited back to the ‘old’ way of doing things by my supervisor …), I withdrew my enrolment on medical grounds.
It took filing an academic grievance in 2015 to get my fees fully refunded. There was never any response in writing to the grievance that acknowledged fault, just the full and final refund in May 2016.

I applied for a lot of jobs during those years. Citing my PGDipArts in Gender and Women’s Studie s, as well as my BA in French (effectively, two majors and one Hons), I got rejection after rejection. I keep every one of those responses, because WINZ keep attacking my disability status & my lack of employment. Showing that employers are not interested in hiring disabled feminist policy analysts is necessary, on a regular basis.

I keep doing Green campaigning, and I keep writing Select Commitee submissions and I slowly stop blogging. Because what’s the point?

Eight years of a misogynist caucus under a PM who thinks ponytails are sexy and can’t keep his hands off them, who cut funding to Rape Crisis, Women’s Refuge, Lifeline and a myriad of otherNGO’s doing social work that MSD was denying responsibility for; cuts to Ministry of Women’s Affairs staff & funding (and a nonsensical rebranding); a year-on-year increase in suicide stats for youth; cuts to Studylink availability for school leavers, post-grads and over-55-yo mid-life retrainees; and then the crowning glory of refusal to acknowledge the housing crisis, refusing a Government inquiry so that the Cross-Party Homelessness Inquiry was established by Greens, Labour & Māori Parties. Read the  submissions .

NGO’s and individuals presented in person at five hearings around the country, beginning at Te Puea Marae in Mangere, South Auckland. I attended 3 of the 5, and then the launch of the Report in Wellington.
I’ve never been so miserable in a hearing my life, I wept & left the hall to go and shout angry words in the bathroom, and knitted my rage when I couldn’t keep taking notes.

The articles I researched during a stint of Policy study in 2015 haunt me – I wrote about Housing and found research papers going back to the mid-80’s that predicted selling off State Housing would be a net loss to society, as impoverishment and homelessness would result. I read Cabinet papers from December 2014, heavily redacted for official release, that turned up on the HNZ section of MSD website a week before Budget 2015 was announced. I realised that John Key had spent the entire previous summer lying to media, talking up an expectation that the Salavation Army would buy thousands of HNZ properties, when the real pitch was an overseas buyer to take the infrastructural rebuild off their hands. I was really angry at that deception.

And still John Key ruled the polls.

I felt a hefty sense of Schädenfreud on Monday.
Finally, all the corruption of this Government was being discussed (the institutional child abuse in State care had just become public and Minister Tolley was getting a drubbing in media) and Key spat the dummy on Monday 5th December 2015.

Eight long years.

What do I do now?

#Green2017

I can’t spend much more than this one post on regrets.
The election is ours to win, while National flounder around sorting out their factions and working out if Key’s backers go with him.

It’s time to #ChangeTheGovernment.

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Well, when I first heard about this, I thought it was quaint – after all, we’ve been gender-balancing our Green MP’s in the party lists forever. Ok, so Labour are catching up with us in a slow and unwieldy way, but it’s no real biggie.

I went off to do some essential, offline tasks.
Then I came back to the internet after dinner.

Oh dear, the trolls and the journalists have joined hands and danced around the fairy circle together.

Comments on posts on Facebook have veered from curious to bewildered, amongst the left, and gone straight to blindingly misogynist on the right.

Apparently, Whaleoil started it. No, I don’t link to his festering cesspit of a blog, you can google that one for yourselves if you want to go there.
Stuff had a go at finding a woman to throw the argument sideways.

Andrew Geddis at Pundit was more reasoned, and gave a clear outline of why so many (even Labour supporters) are concerned about both the announcement, and the timing (right when Key is on the ropes with GCSB hearings).

Chris Trotter has done an ‘insider’s view’ post at the Daily Blog, with a stirring look back at the formation of NewLabour Party in 1989. Recollections of Jim Anderton’s breakaway from ‘old’ Labour had me reaching for the chocolate again.
(yep, I’m playing the feminist version of ‘scull for clichés’ by chewing a lump of chocolate each time I see a glaring piece of male appropriation of the debate. Gonna be a long night if I keep reading around, it seems …)

Even The Civilian has had a go. Excuse me while I roflmao.

No-one seems to have made much about the strategic problem of how you do this when list candidates get juggled around by the electorate seat results, and Labour seem to have forgotten just how many female MP’s they have exactly … which makes for some gruelling reading as they back-step & correct themselves in clear view of the journo’s etc firing off hits at them.
[excuse me while I just scoff another piece of chocolate … 🙂 ]

I’ll be mightily interested to see how this story plays over the weekend, and slightly curious to see which newsrooms scrabble together a feature in the weekend papers, and with what angle.
Do play along at home, and throw article links into the comments here.

Update:
Well, the pollie journo’s at Granny Herald seem to have a bob each way going this weekend. Fran O’Sullivan comes out with a strong piece in support of gender balance in Parlie, as she also supports workplace gender balance. On the ‘noes’, it’s Adam Bennett, reporting a back-peddle from Shearer and some prize misogyny from Shane Jones and Damian O’Connor (why am I not surprised?).

O hai, where ya been?

February 15, 2013

Apologies to anyone who looks here regularly, I’ve been having what’s euphemistically called ‘a holiday’ while I relocate myself & re-load the Master’s thesis project that got canned back in 2010 when VUW closed Gender & Women’s Studies School.

I’m just getting into the joy of new texts, a new library to strip-mine (joy of joys…) and meeting new supervisors, secondary supervisors and struggling with the concept that I know enough history to do an actual history paper at 500-level, as well as my thesis paper.

If anyone remembers, I was planning an herstory of radical feminist activism in Aotearoa/New Zealand, to be conducted by Oral History methods, covering the 1990’s through to oh, about 2010 .. that end date has morphed ‘cos many conditions in the world have changed, & I keep wanting to add more stuff.
I want to write about how globalisation affected activists here, about the 90’s neoliberal reforms, about hip mamas and random trollops, about the lovers and the fighters of the activist world, who happen to belong to us.
Along the way, I’m discovering, I am going to be dealing with some gnarly frameworks like post-structuralism, US and Euro definitions of ‘third wave’ feminism, and how that applies to the NZ experience, and possibly re-hashing some very old feminist arguments about ‘women and the left’, as those who became disillusioned with NZ political paradigms talk to me.

This where you, dear reader, may come in.
You see, many of the people I first envisaged interviewing have fled NZ since 2007, when I began to design this project. Some are more or less important than they used to be, some of us are sadder and wiser activists who jealously guard our privacy. There are many reasons why someone who might have wanted to participate, maybe doesn’t want to any more.

So this is a (very preliminary) callout to my sistas.
If you know someone (or you may even be someone) who was an activist in environmental work, indigenous rights, alternative political groups, outright radical feminist activity, labour organisation, advocacy for low-income workers or unemployed, you may be someone I’d like to talk to. There will of course be an ethics committee process to go through, but I wouldn’t be an anarchist if I wasn’t prepared to subvert that process by getting a little ahead of it, on my own terms.

You can comment here (all comments are moderated by me, so won’t show immediately. If you don’t want your comment published, say so, I’ll just contact you back privately) and let me know what you think of the project, what you might want to contribute or even criticise, and please, pass this around your networks.

FWIW, I operate at a level of ethical constraint higher than the Human Ethics Committees of most universities here in NZ. My protocol is that which is promulgated by NOHANZ, the National Oral History Association of NZ, based in the Oral History Archives in the Turnbull Library, Wellington. That can be viewed here.

Work that I do during this project will ultimately be archived at the Turnbull Library, in the Oral History Centre, unless participants specifically request their recorded contributions to be returned to them. Archived recordings can be set to varying levels of security, including ‘researcher only’, ‘public access’ and many variables in between. Recordings can be made unavailable for 50 years, in order that participants may be safely departed from this planet before their secrets may be examined, if so desired. Lotsa fun to be had there.

Haven’t updated y’all on the progress of Back Benches for a week or two, so here goes. COME ALONG TO SEE IT FILMED, IT RUNS OUT SOON!

Right, now I’ve got that off my chest, some cut’n’paste goodness and linky-love for you to play clicky with:
As you may have heard, the Back Bencher was damaged in a kitchen fire, so there’s been a lot of woe and dismay about the final three shows.
Last week’s episode was filmed in the Shepherd’s Arms in Tinakori Rd, just uphill & around the corner as it were, from BB. Notorious to a certain generation of VUW law students as the Western Park tavern, it’s now less of a booze barn and more of a heritage pub with a ‘southern’ twist. Once more, my trusty companions and I eschewed the brews for coffee and soft drinks, all the better to pay attention.
The acoustics are not great, as half the bar is incapable of seeing or hearing the set, thus talk amongst themselves. We had fun anyway, and Damian and Wallace soldiered on, attempting to get good soundbites from Nat MP Paul Goldsmith, Labour’s Clayton Cosgrove, our own lovely Julie-Anne Genter, and NZ First’s inimitable and intractable Richard Prosser.

This week, it’s the turn of Green MP Kevin Hague, Labour MP David Parker, New Zealand First MP Tracey Martin and National MP Louise Upston, with topics on ACC, Asset Sales, and Gareth Morgan’s opinions. TVNZ blurb here. Once again, at the Shepherd’s Arms Tavern in Tinakori Rd, Thorndon, get in by 6pm if you want food, or 8pm if you just want a spot to stand. Filming starts at 9.05pm, live broadcast with help from the big techy truck parked outside.
Closest thing you can get to being an unpaid extra on a film set … no, wait, it is actually being an unpaid extra on a film set. Damn, shoulda checked that with the union!

Then for even more excitement, join the Save TV7 crew for a march through Wellington on Thursday 28th June, meet at Civic Square 12 noon and march to Parliament. More at their website www.savetvnz7.co.nz, where you can also find the petition – it’s still worth signing to save our only ‘TV for grown-ups’ channel in NZ.

The lovely folks running the campaign to Save TV7 have sent me an e-mail advising me of a bunch of things happening around the country.
I’ll paraphrase, but the important part is this, for Aucklanders – go to the public meeting at Freemans Bay Community Centre TONITE Tuesday 15th May, from 7-9pm.

Brian Edwards is moderating a discussion with Clare Curran, Julie Anne Genter, Andrew Williams, Joe Atkinson and the public. They’re still hoping a representative from the Government will join them as well to explain the policy of closing down New Zealand’s last Public Service TV channel.

If you live in Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Palmerston North, Dunedin, or Hamilton, your turn is coming up, from 21st May in Welli thru to 13th June in Hamilton – see the Save TV7 site for more details.

The on-line petition is still going, with over 22,000 signatures as of Monday night. Still time for more supporters to sign, so get cracking!

The Save TV7 crew have been busy getting badges, t-shirts and stickers produced, so look out for those at the meetings, and show your support.

There’s also a crowd-sourced ad campaign coming up, a follow-on from the articles and interviews that have been published in various media, and the half-page ad in last Friday’s NZ Herald. Here’s the blurb verbatim:

And finally we’re asking our friends (that’s you) to send us photos of yourselves in striking poses for our future ad campaigns. We’d like shots that put you in context (however that might be) and also a little rant about why TVNZ 7 is important to you. We’ll be compiling lots of the photos into an ad to show the government that there are real people who’ll be affected by the closure of TVNZ 7. Send it to savetvnz7@gmail.com and note that by doing so you agree to have your photo put on the internet and in newspapers up and down the country. So remember to SMILE.

Finally, another plug for my favourite TV7 programme – Back Benches, filming again this week on Wednesday night at the Back Bencher pub in Molesworth St across from Parliament, be there from 8pm-ish to get a seat, or book yourselves a table from 6pm to have dinner before the show.

This week it’s Green Party MP Holly Walker, Labour MP Grant Robertson, National MP Colin King, and New Zealand First MP Tracey Martin.  Gutted I’m away and can’t be there to see this lot tackle the topics of bullying in schools and online, and the ramifications of new social welfare provisions aimed at beneficiary mothers and their children.
More details here.

Update:
The Auckland Meeting went off pretty well – media coverage including video here, by Granny Herald.

THIS WEEK ON BACK BENCHES: Watch Wallace Chapman, Damian Christie, the Back Benches Panel and special guests discuss the week’s hottest topics!

WHAT THE FRACK?: Fracking – the mining process which blasts a mixture of water, sand and chemicals deep into the earth to extract gas or petroleum. We’ve been doing it for decades but now there is Parliamentary inquiry into process. The Greens are calling for a moratorium on fracking until the inquiry is over but the Government says that’s not necessary. It’s controversial-the practice has been blamed for groundwater contamination and earthquakes. Is fracking safe? Is there enough oversight? Oil and Gas exports bring about $3 billion to the economy. Can we say no to the practice?

PAID PARENTAL LEAVE: A bill by Labour’s Sue Moroney says 6 months(26 weeks) rather than the current 3.5 months/14 weeks. The Government says that is unaffordable. Do we need more time for the country to recover financially? Key has left the door open for the future – but will our country EVER be able to afford extended leave? Is it ever a good idea to borrow money for additional entitlements? Or are there benefits, bigger than financial to consider?

Join us for a night of LIVE pub politics from the Backbencher Pub: Wednesday, 18th of April. Our Panel: Green Party MP Gareth Hughes, Labour MP Annette King, and National MP Katrina Shanks.

Yes, I am having a busy week, so I just stole that again from Wal & Damian’s site PR.

Do come down, last week was the Young Pollies episode which was a very sardine-packed session (I left it to them & stayed home, I’ll admit) – footage here. Wilbur Townsend represented the Young Greens admirably, despite his own personal misgivings before the filming. Student loans policy got a good thrashing, and one or more young pollies got themselves booed by the crowd – but I’m not saying whom, you’ll have to watch it yourselves.

Pub politics, every week until mid-year when the channel goes off air … boo hiss, TVNZ!

Our public service broadcasting is a backbone of intelligent viewing in NZ, it’s certainly not worth expecting the USA to provide intelligent programming that is affordable and can be broadcast free-to-air, so this is yet another decision made at the expense of our own jobs, our own sovereignty and reflecting our own communities, in all their diversity, on our own screens.

I will become an even more averse consumer of broadcasting after this happens; even now I’m more likely to show up and participate in the filming of Back Benches, than I am to watch an episode of anything else that TVNZ broadcasts across all it’s channels. I consider that the standard of programmes broadcast has fallen substantially in the past decade, and that New Zealand residents are getting ripped off by the decisions that favour cheap, rubbishy ‘reality’ show programmes over drama or comedy that could be keeping NZ-based writers, actors and production crews in work, and in the country.

If HBO is the only place where we can see award-winning kiwi comedy, then how does that make us look?

C’mon TVNZ, pull your socks up and keep our local content on our local stations. Or watch your audience decline to the point where those fat salaries just cannot continue to be dished out to those who make the decisions….

Update:
The show ran with Meteria Turei instead of Gareth Hughes (who was ill with a sore throat), and was unintentionally funny every time Katrina Shanks responded to a question with some phrase or other that had been vetted by her minders, but didn’t seem to answer the question.

Wallace got in a few good shots there, too, which left her doing the four-year-old “the grown-ups are making fun of me” pout. Go on, watch the episode, I kid you not, she really did that!

Annette King actually impressed me when the paid parental leave topic got a second airing, but she was no match for Meteria, who whomped the pair of them on every topic.
The episode is here, and well worth a look.

Tomorrow (wed) on

Back Benches

– Rangitikei MP Ian McKelvie makes his debut (Nat), with Kris Faafoi (Lab) & Gareth Hughes (Green).

The C-word..Casualisation, civilianisation of workforces, MFAT and other job cuts, and school discrimination of those with disabilities. Come for a pint 8.30 pm

Update:

Due to another piece of direct activism conducted during the day, I didn’t actually make it to Back Benches this week.
However, Gareth and the crew did, so looky here to see how they handled the topics of the week.
Fun times spotting greenie regulars in the crowd. Green MP Stefan Browning makes an appearance in the crowd, midway through his tour of organic producer regions discussing the up-coming Food Bill.

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