Sunday, March 9, 2008
I congratulate and as a New Zealander, accept Helen Clark's apology for the excesses of the Fourth Labour Government, of which she was a cabinet minister. That government had never been given a mandate for its market economic policies. Some have said that retrospectively speaking its economic policies were badly needed. I don't know about that, but New Zealand as we knew it was changed for ever in many respects.
What the Fourth Labour government did was to provide a springboard for the subsequent National Party government's even more excessive economic and social policies, such as the Employment Contracts Act, which harmed new Zealand socially more than any policy in sixty years, outside the 1951 Holland Emergency Powers regulations during the Watersiders Lockout.
The ECA on its own disempowered the trade union movement, reduced real wages, gave employers the flexibility to totally change the hours of work from 40 hours to a seven day week economy without, in many cases, any compensation for extra hours worked; and destroyed many full time positions in the process, replacing them with part-time and temporary positions, something not changed to this day . Double overtime rates have become a historical curiosity - many workers lost 100-200 dollars a week from the initial changes. Senior workers became the biggest casualties of such changes. Employers were very happy and grateful for the millions of dollars in savings made because of the imposition of the ECA on the New Zealand workforce.
The Lange/ Douglas regime used its anti-nuclear legislation to hide the affects of its market economic 'Rogernomics' from the New Zealand population. Initially Lange didn't want a bar of the anti-nuclear legislation, but soon came around to the Douglas cliche way of thinking. Lange became an ardent public supporter of the anti-nuclear legislation, using his impressive oratory powers to convince doubters of its value to NZ. Even the following National Government was loath to make any changes, because of the value of the legislation to NZ as a country.
Helen Clark was a female member of a sexist cabinet and was advised to keep her head down, perform her duties and not to interfere in other portfolios. Being politically ambitious she wisely accepted the advice given, and has politically outlived the others in that government. She has become a survivor and the New Zealand people have benefitted from her three terms as one of New Zealand's most capable prime minister's of a most progressive government.
As I wrote earlier, I thank Helen Clark for her apologies of being involved in the excesses of Rogernomics. She must be elected for a fourth term as prime minister. We must continue with a progressive left of centre government. We can not afford as a nation and a society to a return to a reactionary right wing administration.