Murray Horton: Hey, Jacinda, let’s do this – be truly independent

"The Americans are very proud of having won their independence from the British Empire; it’s time for us to do the same from the American Empire." Cartoon: Malcolm Evans/TDB

OPINION: By Murray Horton, of the Aotearoa Independence Movement

Jacinda Ardern, we have some suggestions for when you go as New Zealand’s incoming Prime Minister to APEC in Vietnam next month. Take note of where you are – in a country that fought Western imperialists for decades, first the French, then the Americans, to successfully achieve independence.

What more appropriate inspiration for your new government, one elected by people wanting change for the better, to declare that Aotearoa too will become truly non-aligned and independent?

Close the Waihopai spy base, get out of Five Eyes, and pull the plug on the ANZUS-in-all-but-name military and intelligence alliance with Trump’s increasingly dangerous and unhinged United States. Get out of the American wars that we are already in, such as in Iraq and Afghanistan and definitely stay out of any new wars that Trump may try to drag us into, such as in Korea.

The Americans are very proud of having won their independence from the British Empire; it’s time for us to do the same from the American Empire.

Don’t sign the TPPA (Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement) while you’re at APEC. With or without the US, it’s a dog.

And it is extremely feeble of Labour to say that your only quibble is your wish to stop foreign speculators from buying NZ houses. That is commendable in itself, but it is the very least of what’s wrong with the TPPA and so-called “free trade” deals like it.

The whole model of such foreign investment agreements is broken and needs to be reconsidered from scratch. They are in the interests of transnational corporations only, and certainly not in the interests of the New Zealand people.

Don’t be bullied
Don’t be bullied by so-called experts and journalists with an ideological agenda who accuse you of wanting to “close New Zealand off from the world”. Tell them to look no further than Australia which, for example, has much more stringent restrictions on house ownership by foreigners.

It’s great that you are giving the existential issue of climate change a high priority. Make sure that your government does something real about it, not just more greenwash. One thing that needs to be done immediately is to open this country’s doors to our Pacific neighbours who are under immediate threat of literally going under due to climate change.

They did nothing to cause this problem – whereas New Zealand certainly did and continues to do – but they pay the cost. Taking them in is not a solution to climate change, it is simply an acknowledgement of reparations for damage done. All up, there are only a few thousands of them. We owe them safe haven much more than we do American billionaires seeking a bolthole.

Both Labour and New Zealand First have expressed concern, to a greater or lesser degree, about foreign control of this country. Rest assured that it consists of a lot more than house sales and the relentless takeover of NZ’s prime rural land. They are important but the important stuff is who owns the real guts of the economy.

Name any sector of the NZ economy – take banks as just one example – and it is owned outright by, or dominated by, transnational corporations. That is where the emphasis must be for a government that is really committed to change. Making transnationals pay their fair share of tax is fine but is just tinkering around the edges. It is dealing with the insult, not the injury

Don’t just stop the further sale of public assets such as state houses – take back those assets that have been stolen from the people of New Zealand by your predecessors (both National and Labour). Renounce and reverse Rogernomics, not just because it proved to be electoral poison for Labour but because it was, and is, fundamentally wrong.

It constitutes a crime against the people, a crime of the few against the many. You can trace the dramatic spike in NZ’s deplorable slew of negative social statistics back to the deliberate imposition of that institutionalised inequality and declaration of class war on workers and those at the bottom of the heap.

Naughty old Uncle Winston has had the bad manners to mention the “C” word, one which no recent labour Leader has ever mentioned, let alone in a critical sense, for fear of inducing double incontinence in the business sector.

Good on him for doing so but he is indulging in wishful thinking. Trying to put a “human face on capitalism” is, to use another phrase from the election campaign, putting lipstick on a pig. Concentrate on sorting out the pig and forget about the lipstick.

Murray Horton
Spokesperson, Aotearoa Independence Movement (AIM)

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