‘Let’s gear up for 2017’
by Prue Hyman December, 2016
In 2016 I’ve written about the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals and the need to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).
The next topic was International Women’s Day, including the ongoing need to fight for gender equality, generally and in professional pay for sportspeople.
I celebrated our leftwing pressure groups and the potential Greens/Labour alliance, but bemoaned Brexit and, pre-election, the rise of Trump, while celebrating Trudeau’s victory in Canada.
Then I looked at the UN Secretary General election and advocated voting in local elections back home, explaining the STV system.
And finally I reported on the inspiring memorial for Helen Kelly and argued how important it was for us all to continue her work.
The death of TPPA
The TPPA is now almost certainly dead, to the chagrin of our government. The reasons for this are of course very different from those of the New Zealand campaigners, so it is a somewhat pyrrhic victory.
There is nothing to celebrate in a Trump presidency despite his stance on this, with his early nominees for various offices hair-raising, and fears for erratic and right wing social and foreign policies totally justified.
And what will happen about climate change in the US and generally, given Trump’s scepticism? Certainly not enough.
What else has happened late in 2016? Another frightening earthquake of course with many people in Kaikoura, and nearby, badly affected (though ‘only’ two dead: awful for their families, but could have been much worse).
And the Prime Minister was still talking about tax cuts when the rebuilding process and much more important social expenditures should be far more urgent – and how about a universal basic income?
We finally received a government response on the pay equity principles recommended by the Joint Working Group of unions, employers and government. They did almost accept these principles, which is at least minor progress.
However, I fear that their amendment to say that comparators for the female-dominated work should be drawn from within the business, similar businesses, or the same industry or sector when available and appropriate may be a stumbling block.
Worries over Equal Pay Act
I worry about any alterations to the Equal Pay Act which may in practice dilute the impact of the excellent Court decisions in this area. I
It is probable that only fear of the Court has led to the government doing anything, while the poor carers who took the original case wait for ever for real money in their pockets.
Then there is important news from the Monsanto Tribunal, held in The Hague in October.
Monsanto has gone on from holding farmers to ransom over the use, often accidental, of its seeds which have to be bought each year, to trying to monopolise water worldwide, to a proposed $66 billion merger with agro-chemical giant Beyer.
Destroying family-run farms, driving thousands of farmers into suicide and bullying governments who want to introduce GMO labelling are all in a day’s work for Monsanto.
But over 750 people from over 30 nationalities participated in the Tribunal and People’s Assembly, with judges listening to witnesses, experts and victims on Monsanto’s abuses.
The Assembly concluded that “the poison cartel, which includes toxic makers such as Monsanto, Bayer, Dow, DuPont, and the like, are together destroying both our bread and our freedom.
They are corrupting governments, violating nations’ sovereignty and imposing on our planet a model of greed, poison and corruption. Considering the TNCs guilty of crimes against the planet and humanity, it is hoped that the results can influence international human rights law.
Another current issue is the concentration of media ownership. A thriving democracy needs a diversity of views and media freedom.
New Zealand media ownership reports from 2011 to 2015 have tracked the shrinking New Zealand media market and the under resourcing of public interest journalism.
Late in 2016,
- 85.6% of NZME’s shareholders are banks, investment banks and fund management companies.
- MediaWorks is 100% owned by Oaktree Capital.
- All substantial shareholders of Fairfax Media and Sky TV are also financial institutions.
- NZME and Fairfax together control most of the NZ media and are seeking to merge.
The role of the Commerce Commission
The Commerce Commission is still considering the proposed Sky TV-Vodafone merger and declined approval of the NZME-Fairfax merger in its preliminary ruling.
Most submissions were against these mergers, although many editors have a contrary view, fearing that with the influence of social media, only mergers can provide “survival conditions” for the media outlets.
We certainly need to watch this space and I may write more on some of these issues if I keep going in 2017!
Election Year ahead
Finally of course 2017 is election year – so hard work is necessary for all those who would like to elect a Labour-Greens government, in my case hoping the Greens win enough seats to have a major say, hopefully without too much influence from New Zealand First.
Now that John Key decided today to leave the top job, it will be interesting times!