Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

Prime Minister Bill English began his reign with a dubious promise.

On December 12th last year he told us his government will ‘support unions’. That’ll make a nice change.

After eight years of John Key’s anti-worker policies kicking us in the teeth and bleeding us dry, a friendly government will be a welcome change indeed.

Let’s take a look at Mr English’s record. What has he done for us already? 

Last year he announced unemployment is caused by New Zealand workers being “damned hopeless”.

The solution? Employers must exploit cheap migrant labour. Considering how hopeless we are, it’s the only way for them to “fill the gap”.

Perhaps Mr English hasn’t seen the queues of thousands every time a new supermarket opens down the road?

At a time when so many of us are out of work or stuck in low paid, casual and insecure employment, our new Prime Minister’s attitude doesn’t exactly bode well.

Mr English likes to portray himself as an old fashioned family man, who puts children first and supports strong marriages.

Yet when Labour MP Sue Moroney introduced a bill increasing paid parental leave from 18 to 26 weeks, with the support of every party in Parliament except National and ACT, English personally vetoed it.

The bill had enough support to become law, but the same Finance Minister who gave his rich mates billions in tax cuts declared it unaffordable.

He markets himself as a fiscal conservative, arguing nobody should get comfortable living in a house provided by the state.

He was quite happy, however, to accept nearly a thousand taxpayer dollars a week to pay for his families second house – a $1.2 million property in Karori – and only gave up this cosy arrangement under intense public pressure.

As Finance Minister, Bill English allowed the housing crisis to spin wildly out of control.

A government that supports union members will build tens of thousands of state houses, employing New Zealander workers on good wages to solve the crisis ourselves.

The English government, by contrast, is bulldozing state houses and using police to forcibly evict elderly residents from their homes.

Why? To sell the land off to property developers, drive working class people out and replace us with rich yuppies and gentrification.

Average house prices in Auckland are approaching a million dollars, driven higher and higher by predatory speculation as investment gamblers flip properties between each other.

Yet just last year Bill English told us “there is no evidence that inequality in New Zealand is increasing.”

There are none so blind as those who will not see.

Perhaps the windows of his limousine are too tinted to notice the beggars sitting outside banks or the families sleeping in cars, but at any rate, the statisticians of his own government could have told him this country is headed toward levels of inequality we haven’t seen for a hundred years.

The top 10% of New Zealanders own more than half this country’s wealth. 40% of us own just 3% of it. Two Kiwi billionaires have a greater combined wealth than a third of adult Kiwis put together.

It’s been getting worse for thirty years. It got worse under John Key and Bill English promises us more of the same.

A government that supports unions is urgently needed. Unions are the democratic movement of ordinary working people – what’s good for unions is good for everyone.

We need higher wages, stronger protections at work, affordable housing and a crackdown on the tax dodging, property gambling elite who got us all into this mess in the first place.

Bill English will not deliver for working people. It’s time we deliver him and his government an eviction notice.

By Alastair Reith

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