Final Back Benches for 2011, Merry Xmas Mr Chapman

This is a very brief overview of what was a very busy night.
MP’s on the panel were David Parker (L), Chester Burrows(N) and Jan Logie, our new Green MP on her first Back Benches.

In the audience were many more MP’s, so the guys had a quick chat with David Shearer, Grant Robertson, and Mojo Mathers (first deaf MP, interviewed well by Damian, who expounded on her MSc in Ecology and Environment, which is going to be equally important to her as her Disability issues portfolio).

The show is here at TVNZ7.
The petition to save TVNZ7 is still here. Go on, it’s still worth sending them a message! Buy a t-shirt, even!!!

I edited this today to add the links, but I can’t be arsed describing all the wierd and wonderful things that happened during the show, so just click through and watch it, already. Chester Borrows gets an honourable mention for behaving like a complete arse. No prizes for identifying how many people I know got a chance to state an opinion during the vox pops, but I was assiduously avoiding Damian by hiding near the kitchen for most of the show.
And now here’s pix from last night:

Jan Logie with YG admirers

Jan Logie with YG admirers

New MP's Mojo Mathers and Holly Walker

New MP's Mojo Mathers and Holly Walker

Wallace and Damian, didn't they do well?

Wallace and Damian, didn't they do well?

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Transport policy launch – Get on the bus for light rail!

MP's and candidates at the bus terminal

MP's and candidates at the bus terminal

Today’s Wellington launch of the ‘Green is for go’ transport policy saw a bus full of Green Party volunteers, candidates and MP’s touring the route of the proposed light rail link from Wellington Bus Station, stopping outside Kirkcaldie & Stains department store, then through to Courtney Place and on to Wellington Hospital in Newtown.

Green Co-leader Russel Norman launching the policy

Green Co-leader Russel Norman launching the policy

At each stop, there was an opportunity for media to catch interviews with the candidates and MP’s, and for volunteers to hand out leaflets detailing the new transport policy to passersby. You can read the gist of the transport plan here, and read MP Gareth Hughes’ press release here.

Hutt candidates Holly Walker and Tane Woodley

Hutt candidates Holly Walker and Tane Woodley

While the bus was in transit, the passengers heard from MP Gareth Hughes (Ohariu) and candidates Holly Walker (Hutt South), Zach Dorner (YG ‘Victoria University candidate’), Jan Logie (Mana), Tāne Woodley (Rimutaka), and our own James Shaw (Wellington Central). Each spoke about the public transport challenges faced by their respective electorates, and the value of added funding for buses, trains and light rail. Jan Logie spoke of the enormous community opposition to the Kapiti Expressway, which has galvanised local residents, and James Shaw took his stand just as the bus rounded basin reserve, describing the extent to which the proposed flyover would overshadow the historic Basin cricket grounds, as well as cutting off Newtown, Berhampore and Island Bay access into the Te Aro/CBD area.

James Shaw as the bus rounds the Basin Reserve

James Shaw as the bus rounds the Basin Reserve

This is what a feminist campaign looks like…

The Wellington Young Feminists Collective ran a very well-attended candidates forum last night, held in the mezzanine meeting room at Wellington Public Library, titled “Ladies in the House”.

“Come and hear what your candidates are planning to do for local women and ask them the questions that matter… like why there only two female Wellington Central candidates. Or why abortion is still in the Crimes Act. Or why after the 2008 election only 27% of electorate MPs were women.

Women’s issues are everyone’s issues. Let’s make them election issues.”

So, who was there? Candidates invited were:
Paul Foster-Bell (National Party Candidate for Wellington Central)
Jordan Carter (Labour Party List Candidate)
Stephen Whittington (ACT Party Candidate for Wellington Central)
Holly Walker (Green Party Candidate for Hutt South)
Jan Logie (Green Party Candidate for Mana)
Ben Craven (NZ First Candidate for Wellington Central)

and they were ably MC’d by Bryony Skillington.

There were indeed questions put about the Crimes Act, abortion law in general, health policy, domestic violence, how to get more women elected, whether parties would keep the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, poverty in general and child poverty in particular, and since my notes from the hour and a half ran to seven pages, I’m not going to detail all the answers that were given, suffice to say that Ben Craven was clearly well out of his depth, and not any kind of asset to his party affiliation in his ineptitude, which gave a lot of unintentional humour.
Paul Foster-Bell read out his set-piece answers very coherently, but you could see the gloved hand controlling the puppet.
Stephen Whittington, to his credit, gave some very unpopular answers but at least stuck honestly to his own, well-known beliefs. Prolly not gonna help ACT get any more women voters, but then they don’t seem to want a world where women are enfranchised and empowered, so I guess they’ll take as long as they need to come to grips with 21st C realities.
Now to the two women candidates – our own Green party women, Holly Walker and Jan Logie. Both spoke strongly on policy platforms, and gave well-considered answers to questions asked by the audience. Holly handled gender pay gap and child poverty issues, while Jan spoke mostly about gender violence.

Linky roundup: Radio NZ here, Wellington Access Radio here, Jan Logie’s speech here.

Update: Wellingtonista did a far better review of the guts of the forum here, which proves my personal point that I can afford to be lazy every now and then when I know someone else has got my back 😉 Big ups to the Wellingtonista team.

Occupy Wellington

I’ve held off from commenting on this affair until now, as I wanted to get a feel of how the media was handling it, whether facts were being published, and how the Occupy Aotearoa project was coming along.

There have been some interesting things going on. Occupy Wellington has a distributed leadership consensus decision-making group, which holds twice daily general assemblies of all attending the occupation, and is generally allowing allcomers to participate, discuss, vent, and help put plans together.

There have been a few issues, at first mainly weather related (one structure was re-assembled three times in as many days…), but as time has gone by a few personalities have become problems. There are sufficient skills in facilitation within the group that such issues have been quietly and firmly dealt with, although one disruptive visitor has been identified by Police as someone they want to remove from Wellington environs, so reluctantly an agreement was made that they would be contacted if he showed up again; when he did this was communicated to him and he went away immediately after yelling abuse at the ‘hospitality’ team, shouting that it was all lies. But the fact that he wasn’t keen to hang around and dispute the topic (his usual behaviour) gives the lie to his protestations, and to my knowledge he hasn’t been seen since.

Liason with Police and City Council has been positive and open from early days. A ‘hospitality’ roster keeps the camping area safe from random pillaging, whilst also functioning as a meet’n’greet point for visitors, media, and those who are staying overnight but have jobs or study to go to during the day. Organisation of food, waste disposal, recycling and workshops is happening in an organically fluid way, as people volunteer to work on various tasks and rotate as they become interested in different aspects of keeping this kind of action going.

Non-Violent Direct Action (NVDA) principles are being followed in planning any kind of satellite action and with the discussion group structure working well, there is sufficient input to utilise all available skillsets, whilst also having critical oversight from those campers who have more extensive experience in running demo’s, marches, protests or occupations.

There are also Occupy groups running in Auckland/Tamaki Makaurau, New Plymouth/Taranaki, Christchurch/Otautahi, Dunedin/Otepoti, and a satellite of the Christchurch occupation at Nelson.
Some of these groups are in contact with each other, due to affinity group connections between individual campers.

There’s a lot of chatter on FB, Twitter, and mainstream media, not all of it accurate or positive about the events or meanings of these actions. Occupy Wellington has its own webpage here, which is being updated sporadically by various people. There are some workshops planned for Labour Day (monday) with a schedule here, and there’s a ‘blogroll’ of media reports here.

In the interests of fair and unbiased reporting, I have to state that I spent 3 nights camping at the Occupy Wellington site; my tent is still there, in someone else’s use, as I’ve slunk home to try to cure a dose of ‘flu. I admit to being closely linked to quite a few of those who are core to this occupation action, and I 100% support what they are doing.

As usual, here’s a few pix to finish off with. Not sweary at all, totally SFW.

Green Mana electorate candidate Jan Logie with supporters on day one.

Green Mana electorate candidate Jan Logie with supporters on day one.


General Assembly on the warm bricks, late afternoon, day one

General Assembly on the warm bricks, late afternoon, day one


70's retro peace and love... day two

70's retro peace and love... day two


placard, day two

placard, day two


the growing campsite, day two

the growing campsite, day two


Loaned tent, replacing storm-damaged wharenui tarp, day three

Loaned tent, replacing storm-damaged wharenui tarp, day three


A dry blackboard, workshops notices day three

A dry blackboard, workshops notices day three


golden clouds as dusk falls over the encampment, day three

golden clouds as dusk falls over the encampment, day three


sunshine after rain, laundry out to dry, day four

sunshine after rain, laundry out to dry, day four


donations of fruit were placed on the open table, compost bin at the ready, day four

donations of fruit were placed on the open table, compost bin at the ready, day four

Another fine day up the coast with Jan Logie

Sunday afternoon saw me leaving soggy Wellington on the train and heading up the line to Paekakariki for a showing of The Hollow Men run by Mana Greens as a fundraiser for Jan Logie’s campaign. The journey was made more pleasant by the fact of other greenies travelling out too, and the companionship of my son, who’d decided to join us.

Jan making a few policy announcements

Jan making a few policy announcements

The screening was held in a little church hall in Paekakariki, which was viscerally reminiscent of the small country church halls of my rural childhood – right down to the idiosyncratic placements of lighting switches which had half a dozen of us hunting for the main switch once the movie began to show.
In true small-town form, the first print of the dvd wouldn’t play, a back-up had to be quickly rounded up, and then it was decided to just project it onto the back wall rather than use the too-small screen.

Meanwhile the assembled crowd ate popcorn, handed out in paper bags by Jan’s support crew (made on the premises in the wee kitchen, so the hall smelt nicely of buttered popcorn when we all dribbled in…) and chatted amongst ourselves. There was a small cash bar, so most people had a glass or bottle or two while it all got under way. Plenty of Young Greens present too, including Jack McDonald, who is standing in the māori electorate of Te Tai Hauāuru, an enormous chunk of the west coast of the lower north island that he has been travelling around, giving speeches to various entities.

The movie is well-enough known, I think, that I don’t need to summarise too much, suffice to say that even though the main plot finishes just after the 2005 election, the events portrayed are seared into my mind from that time, and I remembered a lot of the footage. Vanguard Films adapted the script to follow the footage they could find through the Film Archive, TVNZ archives & TV3 archives, so much of it was cut’n’paste of the actual politicians and journalists talking about the events as they happened – so much of this scandal was actually on public record.

Nicky in full expositionary flight

Nicky in full expositionary flight

Afterwards, Nicky Hager took questions from the audience, and made a brief statement that he considered Dr Don Brash not to have substantially changed his core approach since 2005, so that many of the issues raised in the book and the film are still relevant in NZ politics during the current election campaign.
There was also some brief discussion of his latest book, “Other Peoples’ Wars”, which has just been published, covering some of the same period of time but looking at the Labour Government Ministers and NZDF chiefs involved in sending our SAS to Afghanistan and Iraq, which was of course the subject of much Green protest in 2002/3 (“There are no Just Wars, Just Peace” ring a bell with anyone?) and on through subsequent years, as this illegal war dragged on through a decade. Having just finished reading the book, I thoroughly recommend it, especially for those who weren’t involved in any of the anti-war movements and couldn’t see what all the fuss was about.

Mana’s Jan Logie knows how to run a fundraiser …

Ok, so I admit I should have written about this before it happened, so’s any regulars here might join in if they cared to, but meh, I’ve been busy.

And in any case, re-read the title, Jan Logie has got a great team helping her in Mana electorate, and it showed at the Lighthouse Cinema in Pauatahanui, that semi-rural community north of Wellington famous for preserving a fabulous wetlands area which NZTA now want to drive Transmission Gully straight through.

So, as we all scuttled from our various means of transport through the rain into the cinema, there was a Green info stall with some posters and leaflets, also selling last-minute tickets for the early evening showing of Oranges and Sunshine.

Campaign team looking very organised

Campaign team looking very organised

Jan spoke briefly just before we watched the movie, highlighting Green policy around poverty and families, and then we settled down for this directorial outing by Ken Loache’s son Jim; as much of a reason to watch the film as anything else, IMNSHO.

The original book by Nottingham social worker Margaret Humphreys was the result of the events you see in the film, as she uncovered to her horror the evidence of mass, forced migrations of underpriviledged children in the 50’s and 60’s, with the active collusion of both the UK and Australian Governments.

Her book Empty Cradles caused a furore at the time, but as the title sequence acknowledges at the end of the film, it took 23 years after she pieced the facts together for those Governments to apologise to the children who were removed from families into care, and then spirited half a world away while their parents tried to get employment, housing and debts under control.

It certainly makes you think about our current social welfare provisions, particularly those around fostering, adoption and the provisions in law for making children at risk wards of the state. I for one came out of the session in mild shock, and considering carefully the phrase ‘let s/he who is without sin throw the first stone’ … for the judgemental nature of those upper-middle class civil servants in the UK was a very big part of this action, which can only be framed as class war, misogyny and extreme cruelty to parents and children alike.

For anyone interested in the subject of forced removals of children for adoptions in NZ, there is an excellent book on the subject by Dr Anne Else, A question of adoption : closed stranger adoption in New Zealand, 1944-1974, which gives very good background to the shaming of mothers, then-current protections in law so that paternity could not be stated for illegitimate children, particularly if the father was already married, and other grounds under which young women were deemed to be unfit to bring up their children. This was published in 1991 by Bridget Williams books, and should be available in the WCC libraries as well as holdings in the VUW libraries.

Jan Logie speaking before the screening.

Jan Logie speaking before the screening.

The Listener had coincidentally given this film a very good review (by film reviewer Helene Wong) just last week, so the final tally of attendees may have been boosted unwittingly by their aid – Jan is seen speaking in the larger of the two cinemas, but we had screenings in both available cinemas, such was the demand.

I thoroughly recommend both that you see this movie, either as it screens around the country or at some future date on DVD, and also that you see a movie in one of the Lighthouse Cinemas scattered around Wellington region – Petone has one as well as Pauatahanui – and I’d generally say that the experience of seeing movies in smaller, local cinemas has a lot going for it. Wellington particularly has had a resurgence in small cinemas dating back to the re-opening of the Empire Cinema in Island Bay a few years ago, and most recently the refurbished Roxy Cinema in Park Rd, Miramar owned by Sir Peter Jackson, but one of the few he owns which is open to the general public.

Lastly, I’d like to thank every professional social worker who deals with families day-to-day – it is an unremittingly stressful job, as the central character in this film shows viscerally. You are women (and some men, too) who are truly worth your weight and more in gold, and heroes and heroines for all the children whose lives are touched and strengthened by your support.

Slutwalk Aotearoa in Wellington, a review.

Ok, so anyone looking would have noticed that I haven’t said anything so far about this global phenomenon. FWIW, the arguments that american feminists have amongst themselves are not my problem, so I’m not gonna recap on that, google it yourself or check out the Handmirror, Julie’s done a reasonable recap here, and so has Luddite Journo.
And in the vein of my ever-increasing updates to this post, here’s Jane Clifton’s take on the story at The Listener, which was published on 2 July, before the marches took place, but will live behind the subscriber firewall until 18 July, 2011. She manages to identify my old thesis supervisor without referring to her doctorate, which I’m pretty sure she doesn’t do for Dr Jon Johanssen, or Dr Russell Norman, both of whom have politics PhD’s, as does Alison Laurie. Play spot-the-discrimination along with me…
Latest Listener has Diana Wichtel’s TV review focussing on Slutwalk reporting in the media, not bad. Not behind the firewall, either.

I went on the march after a few of us had voiced some misgivings, but basically the issue is too important not to get involved in, whatever the minor differences of style and analysis we have between our various organisations.

MJ Scannell and Pollyanne Pena did a good job for people who haven’t ever done this before. It’s so long since I was on my first Reclaim the Night organising collective that I have to stretch to remember how much I sucked; thankfully for all concerned, I wasn’t a major part of that group, and lots of people helped me to come up to speed, which is a favour I return practically every time I get involved in running a march. There are lots of things to know how to do, and there are some obstructive bureaucrats who try to stop us every time.

There were great speakers, our own Green Party Candidate standing in Mana electorate, Jan Logie, being one of them. Brooklynne Kennedy, co-convenor of the Young Greens also spoke, and so did Natalie Gousmett who some in green circles may know, speaking for Rape Crisis.
Other speakers represented the Wellington Young Feminists Collective, Young Labour, and the NZ Prostitutes Collective, whose speaker reminded us that it’s eight years since the legislation passed decriminalising prostitution, and that nobody ever ‘deserves to be raped’, whatever their relationship to their rapist, whatever their sexual history, whatever is worn, wherever it is.
There were hundreds of marchers; young, old, men, women, gay, straight, everything in between as well. The recent ‘Queer the Night’ march in Wellington to highlight homophobic violence had a flow-on effect to Slutwalk here, with many young members (and some not-so-young) of the GLBTI community coming out to march against sexual violence crimes.

The main media outlets have focussed on simple things like the word ‘slut’ and ‘skimpy clothing’ images.
If they had honestly reported the speeches, they’d have heard MJ Scannell plead for media to stop using language that blames victims of rape, that implies that the sex was somehow consensual, that says ‘s/he must have asked for it’, that perpetuates the myriad of rape myths that are current in our society.
For those reasons alone, I’m not linking to any ‘mainstream media outlets’ websites – again, you can go google it yourself or search TV3, TVNZ, stuff and nzherald websites using the ‘slutwalk aotearoa’ search term.

Update:
Jan Logie’s excellent speech is online here at her blog.
And also Brooklynne Kennedy’s speech is here.

Now some pictures!

The crowd was thickly spread across the dryer parts of Waitangi Park, the starting point.


MJ Scannell speaking to the crowd in Civic Square


Jan Logie in mid-speech, with hovering press photographer.


Brooklynne Kennedy, bravely challenging the crowd on transphobia and rape issues.


Nicole Skews from the Wellington Young Feminists Collective