Sunday, May 17, 2009

For a Workers’ Tamaki Makaurau!

The Royal Commission Report on Auckland [Tamaki Makaurau] has come and gone. After 18 months of deliberation its conclusions have been binned by the National Government. Its proposals for a single city remain, but all the existing councils are abolished. The single city will have no more than 30 elected councilors, a number elected at large. The real power will be in the hands of the Mayor. The model is a corporate Board of Directors. By abolishing the urban and rural councils and creating a new Super City, the NZ capitalist class is set to privatise $28 Billion of Auckland assets.

The bosses’agenda

The campaign for one city has been driven by business interests for years. Their target has always been to get local government out of business and confined to provision of basic services. It wants to remove all local body legislative controls on investment, particularly property speculation. The new city will extend from Pukekohe to Warkworth, encompassing three harbours, a Gulf and the most valuable coastal property in the country. Corporates have always opposed the Auckland Regional Council [ARC] which has statutory authority over much of this land and which owns the major asset of the port of Auckland. The first great land theft was from Maori in the nineteenth century, the second is from all the working people of Auckland today.

Rodney Hide the new Minister of Local Government is the leader of the ACT Party whichs says that local government will be required to “shed its commercial activities”. Hide is now overseeing the Grand Theft of Auckland. A Transitional Agency headed by Hide with a few of his cronies will take charge of all the local authorities on the 14th of May for a period of 18 months to prepare the transfer of all their assets so they can be sold off when the Auckland City Council is elected in October 2010. The new Auckland City is therefore the bosses’ way of abolishing the ARC, divesting it of its business assets such as Ports of Auckland, and dispensing with the ARC role in providing subsidized services such as public transport.

Bosses’ abolish the ARC

On the same day as the Royal Commission released its report, Alastair Thompson, chief executive of the Employers and Manufacturers Association of the Auckland region, published an article in the NZ Herald “ARC swimming against the tide with its port holdings”.

Thompson makes the business case for the ARC to sell its majority shareholding of the Ports of Auckland because it makes a profit and uses the money to pay social subsidies to public services. Thompson is saying that state owned assets should not make a profit, or better still sell these assets so that private business can make the profits. Nothing galls the capitalists more than seeing the ARC actually taking profits from the private sector and spending it on workers.

It is clear that the National government is a government of the capitalist class in crisis and that they will impose the costs of their crisis onto ordinary workers without any concern for “democracy” or for our welfare. The seizure of power in Auckland and stripping of its $28 billion worth of assets will increase the costs of basic services and amenities to workers.

Workers Fight Back

The National ACT asset grab in Auckland is a repeat of Rogernomics, imitating the “shock treatment” used by Roger Douglas in the 1980s. Douglas said then that his neo-liberal reforms could only work if they were introduced quickly before there was time for organize resistance. The result was the defeat of the unions and of all other workers organisations, including the desertion of the Labour Left that split from the Labour Party to form New Labour in 1989.

We have to learn the lessons of the defeats we suffered under Rogernomics Mark 1. First we must reject the abolition of the existing councils and their elected representatives. This means junking the feudal institution of the Royal Commission used by the Labour Government to decide on Auckland’s future. Second, we have to fight the plans of the National ACT regime to use this feudal process to seize power and privatise Auckland as a Super City council dominated by councilors elected by the corporate class under a Super-Mayor.

We have to demand that any Auckland Super City should be elected by proportional representation on the basis of democratically formed local and existing city wards, including constituencies that represent Maori iwi in the Auckland region.

Second, to mobilise our forces to stop this coup against democracy we have to organize the unions and community organisations to put bans on the actions of the NACTs Transitional Agency as it usurps the role of the local bodies so as to prepare Auckland’s publicly owned assets and provision of services for privatization or abolition. This will mean stopping the Transitional Agency from preparing public assets and services for privatization by sacking workers and cutting spending.

Wharfies first in the gun

We can start by backing the Wharfies who are facing big job losses as the Ports of Auckland prepares for privatization. While it is owned by the ARC, the Port is run like a capitalist corporation. The threat to jobs today is only the start of the cutbacks in jobs and conditions under a fully privatized Port Company.

While the Port is the main prize of the privatisers there are a number of other “commercial” activities in their sights. The ARC uses its profits from the Port to subsidise its social services such as public transport. Other local body functions such as provision of amenities like swimming pools and libraries will be targets for the Hide axe. Auckland rail which is potentially profitable is likely to be also prepared for privatisation, as with the provision of water.

The resistance to the corporate grab of Auckland has to be on the ground. Those whose lives will be trampled by the capitalist plan to turn Auckland into a capitalist speculators paradise at their expense must mobilise locally, regionally, nationally and internationally to stop it.

What we need instead of a bosses' supercity for superprofits is a socialist supercity to socialise the provision of housing, transport, water, health, education and all social amenities that a are needed by the workers who make all the wealth.

Back the Iwi Have Influence campaign!

Back the unions fighting jobs and services cuts!

Back proposals for mass actions such as a Rate Revolt!

For a Workers’Tamaki Makaurau!

For a Socialist Super City, in a socialist Aotearoa, in a Socialist Federation of the South Pacific!

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