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Labour Leadership Campaign – Blackball Meeting

Written By: - Date published: 8:52 am, September 9th, 2013 - 58 comments
Categories: david cunliffe, grant robertson, labour, Shane Jones - Tags:

Blackball Socialist Group

Today the candidates are off to the spiritual home of the Labour Party, Blackball on the West Coast.

It was here in 1908 that the local Miners Union struck for better wages and conditions.  This was the first strike since the passing of the Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act in 1890.  It marked a more militant attitude by the Trade Union movement to securing improved wages and conditions for their members.

It was sparked by the firing of Pat Hickey and six others after Hickey refused to finish his pie after his 15 minute crib time was up.  At the end of the strike the employers gave in, reinstated the sacked workers, and improved everyone’s conditions.

This event had a significant impact on the trade union movement and was a massive blow to the arbitration system.  The various local miners’ unions joined with other unions formed the “Red Feds” or the National Federation of Labour.  Direct negotiations with employers caused considerable improvements to workers’ wages and work conditions and started a series of events that led to the Labour Party being formed in 1916.

The past weekend saw three meetings, a second opinion poll and the announcement by four unions that they are supporting David Cunliffe.  The opinion poll had David Cunliffe well ahead of the other two contenders.  He was picked by 39% of voters as being the most likely to defeat John Key in next year’s general election.  Jones was second on 18% and Robertson was third on 15%.

The media still appear to be struggling to understand the nature of the contest.  Audrey Young said in the Herald this morning:

Despite the popular support for Mr Cunliffe, Mr Robertson still has by far the greatest support in caucus, thought to be at least 17 votes out of 34; with 10 for Mr Cunliffe and five for Mr Jones.

Caucus votes are worth more than other votes cast, with 34 MPs making up 40 per cent of the vote; the support of 17 MPs would give Mr Robertson almost 30 per cent of the total allowable vote.

She does not appear to understand that the vote is a preferential vote.  Robertson has, on these figures, 20% of the total vote and with the distribution of preferences the caucus could, again on these figures, be tied up.  Earlier suggestions that Robertson had overwhelming support in caucus appear to be incorrect.

Last night’s meeting in Dunedin has received an interesting write up from the ODT with the author suggesting that Robertson was the local sentimental favourite but Cunliffe performed best at the podium.  It was also suggested that Cunliffe was the winner of the popular vote despite local MP Clare Curran announcing her support for Grant Robertson and that [Cunliffe] had delivered the quote of the day:

Labour has underestimated John Key. I won’t. I have his number and he knows it.

Finally to repeat the service announcement people entitled to attend the meetings include members, former members and new members who sign up at the door.

Media can attend but for the preliminaries and the speeches only.

If you are going you should get to the meeting early as there will be a vetting process and this could take some time. People should bring their membership cards or ortherwise photo ID so that they can be identified. Photos and social media can be taken and used during the open part of the meeting.

And a reminder that current members and those who have been financial members of the Party sometime between January 1 2011 and August 22 2013 but have not yet paid their membership for 2013 can renew their membership and vote, so long as they have done so before 12.00am on Friday 6 September.  New members will not be able to vote.

If you were a member or have joined up again but have not received your papers you can chase this up by emailing reception@labour.org.nz.

Finally for your vote to count you will have to list all candidates in preference. The second preferences of the third ranked candidate will then be distributed amongst the other candidates.  There is an online voting option that works well and I recommend this.

And just in case anyone is not aware of this I am a supporter of David Cunliffe and a member of his LEC.

58 comments on “Labour Leadership Campaign – Blackball Meeting ”

  1. karol 1

    Thanks, micky. Love the photo! And who is that woman amongst the men?

    A very good post, but this bit is confusing:

    It was also suggested that Cunliffe was the winner of the popular vote despite local MP Clare Curran announcing her support for Grant Robertson and that he had delivered the quote of the day:

    Labour has underestimated John Key. I won’t. I have his number and he knows it.

    The link implies the link article is about Clare Curran’s support, but isn’t. The link also doesn’t include the quote that follows. In that part of the post it looks like the quote:

    Labour has underestimated John Key. I won’t. I have his number and he knows it.

    was said by Robertson (which is why I checked the link, because that’s not what I remembered). It is a Cunliffe statement reported in the previously linked ODT article “Cunliffe seizes the day”.

    • mickysavage 1.1

      Thanks Karol. Obviously even back in 1908 the Labour Movement believed in equality for women!

      I have changed the link. Technical snafu. I have also clarified who made the statement.

      • karol 1.1.1

        micky, too often there’s been women involved in significant social developments and changes, to be later written out of history. One woman among 6 men is not exactly equality, but it shows a step in that direction. And it shows that women were there in the early days of the labour movement.

        Thanks for the edits.

        • Greywarbler

          The woman in the photo is listed in the Te Ara information sheet.
          Although unions had long been associated with major mines and other industries, they were mainly concerned with local working conditions. In the early 1900s a broader discussion of social and political issues began in small socialist groups, such as this one in Blackball, about 1910. Standing (from left): A. Kells, T. Campbell, J. Divis (holding placard), Mrs W. Bromilow, A. Wright. Sitting: W. Bromilow, W. Rogers.

          Mrs W Bromilow it is. And a strong support with both her and her husband behind the movement.

  2. Rich the other 2

    Will any of them take the opportunity to announce support mining on the coast ?

    Given what’s happened to the greens in Tasmania and the backlash against their destructive anti forestry industry policy’s , similar to their anti mining position on the coast , it would be an appropriate time distance them selves from the toxic greens.

    It’s time for labour to stand up and distance themselves from the greens.

    • karol 2.1

      Cunliffe supports environment friendly policies.

      Expect Jones to support mining over environment. We are supported by our environment in many ways – damaging it is toxic. Opposing environment sustaining policies is toxic.

      Nice use of Orwellian doublespeak, Rto.

    • Tracey 2.2

      I would expect Jones to be in his element preaching to the converted about mining.

      At some point someone has to have the courage (I thought the clark govt started) to say tot he coasters you are dooming your children if you continue to see their future as being only in a mine or a forest.

      I have family in Westport, my maternal grandfather and his ancestors were forestry men on the coast.

      I can say that not a single one of my second cousins is still on the coast. ONE was at Holcim and looking to go teaching in westport but after holcim announced redundancies she began looking for work and is now off to otorahonga… her brother is is nelson and her cousin in Christchurch and Australia.

      I recall a big payout to the coast after the logging changes, and perhaps they need more to support non mining dependant growth.

      • Rich the other 2.2.1

        Tracey ,
        That’s shameful ,what’s wrong with working in the forestry or mining.
        We can’t all be doctors or lawyers.
        Being employed is what counts, providing for family’s with well paid jobs must be the priority, the Tasmanians have made that very clear.
        Is it good that your family has been forced to leave the coast??

        The greens are the ones who are dooming people to the scrap heap.

        • Tracey

          It’s not shameful. History suggests two thing about mining/forresty as a source of employment for coasters;

          1. it is not constant employment;
          2. people die or get hurt (forestry has an appalling record for safety for workers – see comment below about shareholders)

          The world has changed and the older coasters need to start to understand that if they want their families to stay on the coast, which they do, then they cannot rely on mining or forestry to keep them there. None of my second cousins are lawyers. None are doctors. One is a plumber and gasfitter, one has a chemistry degree and a teaching diploma, and the one in Australia is a fitter and turner, and the christchurch one is an accountant. I have watched westport wax and wane over the last 40 years and they are so much at the mercy of the mines. AT THE MERCY RTO, that means they rely on coal prices and companies who only give a shit about their shareholders for a future.

          However, westport with its population on 5000 doesnt even have a GP in the town. That’s appalling.

          We need to bond medical students who want us to pay their way, then we can send them upon graduation to places like Westport.

          FAR from wanting people to leave Westport I would love them to be able to stay, but coal mines and forestry wont achieve that.

    • millsy 2.3

      The only thing that is ‘toxic’ is the mining waste destroying our natural spaces and making our children sick.

  3. Jono 3

    No wonder Jones bailed on the actual hui at Whakapara Marae, after fronting for the cameras at the powhiri and kapu ti…the Marae has been very visibly Protesting at any attempt to reopen the Puhipuhi plateau at the top of their rohe’s watershed for prospecting and mining for years, and have an ongoing protest on SH1 outside the Marae. They almost came to blocking the highway earlier in the year by occupying a piece of Maori land under the road that was accidentally left out of the road survey years ago and which they still have title to.

    • Rich the other 3.1

      Clearly your people prefer the dole to mining ,that’s your choice .
      Someone some where needs to work to pay the taxes so the dole can be paid, the coasters are happy to work.

      • Tracey 3.1.1

        It’s the fact that it is mining or the dole that is the problem rich, you wanting more mining doesn’t actually solve the problem. I would rather we paid money into the coast to encourage/boost alternative employment opportunities. To be innovative and sophisticated about it so the coasters dont have to rely on the whim of coal prices and shareholder demand for dividends for their futures.

        People blinkered by mining are the ones selling out the coasters because they condemn them to perpetual uncertainty of employment, risk of injury/death and periods on the dole when it goes pearshaped as it always does.

        Damien O’Connor went to school in Christchurch, university in Christchurch, didn’t work in mining or forestry. Stop limiting the futures of the coast children by condemning them to reliance on coal and trees.

        “Damien O’Connor was born in Westport and attended primary school there before going on to St Bede’s in Christchurch and Lincoln University.

        Before becoming an MP, he worked in a variety of jobs in farming and tourism. During a five-year stint in Australia, he worked as a machinery operator and in sales. On his return to New Zealand, Damien established Buller Adventure Tours, an adventure tourism company he owned and operated in a partnership.

        Damien is past president of the Buller Promotion Association, a member of the West Coast Tourism Development Group, a member of the West Coast Business Development Board and a founding director of the Buller Community Development Company. He was also West Coast Young Farmer of the Year.”

        • Rich the other

          The core of the matter is this.
          It doesn’t have to be mining or forestry only ,NOBODY is suggesting that.
          All types of business should be encouraged.
          The greens want mining and forestry closed down , that’s bizarre .

          As for damien oconner , it’s time he came out strongly in support for all business on the coast , mining included, tell your man to stand up and be counted.

          Labour has been infiltrated by the greens ,it’s time they grew a spine and distanced themselves from the them.

          Labour leadership actually hid from the greens when having there meeting with Key about the spy bill , scared they might upset them , UNBELEAVIABLE.

          • Tracey

            You are entitled to your view but I just want to clarify that O’Connor is not my man. I am not currently supporting labour and if I were it would be in spite of O’Connor, not because of him.

      • Jenny Kirk 3.1.2

        To Rich the Other – the Whakapara people are protesting about toxic mining in an extremely dangerous environment for it. Its riddled with mercury throughout the soil and rocks, its extremely wet, has numerous rivers/streams on the surface and innumerable underwater aquifers.
        Any mining of any sort disturbs the mercury and has it leaching into the waterways where it kills
        vegetation and fishlife and makes animals (eg cattle) browsing the vegetation extremely ill.
        THAT is why they are objecting to mining.
        And at the hui at Whakapara, the local people put up feasible alternative economic development ideas for thousands of jobs in the region. But Jones wasn’t interested enough to stay to listen to them ! A very poor showing on his part.

      • Jono 3.1.3

        Dude, WTF? “My people” were shipwrights and chip shop owners from Portsmouth, French Jews from Glasgow and Irishmen. Are you actually presuming I am Maori just because I know some of the doings in my local Maori community?? You do know what they say about assumptions eh?

        Puhipuhi is still a toxic dump from the last lot of mining, which was never cleaned up and I tautoko Jenny’s comments above and note the many of the farmers in the Hikurangi swamp are also not particularly keen on mercury leaching into their water supply.

        I will tell you another thing too, the history of miningt in that area is nothing if not the history of the mine owners’ specials pleadings and continually asking for handouts and subsidies from the governments of the day to keep their uneconomic, poisonous (ask around about miners with mercury poisoning in the area) but supposedly necessary ‘in the National interest’ business from going tits up.

        • Greywarbler

          Interesting. And going on from the point about special pleading for powerful interests in the mining business, it reminds me of the Hawkes Bay group wanting water and thinking of flooding the Resource Council up there with their own people. They may be justifiably angry at ineffective government, or they may be just focussed on their rights to the water for the uses and crops they aspire to. But, like Canterbury, lobbying govt to make a special case for some reason, you refer to the national interest, is an ongoing practice! To be aware of by the rest of the country.

  4. Hilary 4

    Not sure if David C’s claiming of Richard Seddon as his whanau member is such a good strategy. Richard Seddon was on the right of the Liberal Party and fought hard against votes for women. (Until the suffragists and left wingers in the Party eventually worked out a strategy to circumvent him.)

  5. Hilary 5

    By the way women have always been very active in the Labour Party. They weren’t allowed to stand for parliament until 1919 and it took a few years for the first woman MP, Elizabeth McCombs to be elected. But many women were active on local government boards such as Janet Fraser who was on the Wellington Hospital Board in the 1920s. In the 1970s and 80s there were big philosophical battles between women from the left (eg Helen Clark) and right (Connie Purdue) of the party.

    I have written on the topics
    ‘Janet Fraser – making policy as well as tea’ in Peter Fraser: master politician, edited by Margaret Clark Dunmore, 1998, Chapter 4
    ‘Labour owes us’ – the 1984 women’s forums’ in For the record – Lange and the fourth Labour government, edited by Margaret Clark Dunmore, 2005, p 119-128

    There is also a very good biography of ‘Margaret Thorn (the wife of early Labour MP Jum Thorn) called ‘Stick out keep left’ edited by Elsie Locke and Jacquie Matthews, which covers the early decades of the LP and the significant role of women in it.

    There is a lot more fascinating history of women in the LP awaiting research attention.

    • Tracey 5.1

      Thanks for this Hilary, much appreciated.

    • Greywarbler 5.2

      I have been lucky enough to track Margaret Thorn’s book through helpful people – Morrissey and Murray O, on this blog. It’s very good. I had heard about it years ago, and was overjoyed to finally track it down. So if anyone else is interested we can guide them to a source, not dear either. What an interesting life she had, and what a fine, sterling woman.

    • karol 5.3

      Thanks, Hilary. Very useful information.

  6. JoshL 6

    Tracey, Westport in fact has two permanent GPs and a number of locums. But I agree with your sentiments that the extractive industries have not served the Coast well. At present, property and rent prices are inflated on the back of the last coal price boom, and Westport’s hopes are pinned on Bathurst mining the Denniston escarpment.

    The locals largely don’t see the international coal price, along with the NZ dollar being what will determine whether the mine goes ahead. With the encouragement of Bathurst, Forest and Bird are seen as being to blame.

    But what the Coast needs is meaningful jobs as an alternative to mining. If they were there, Coasters themselves wouldn’t want the mines either – working at Stockton is not a very pleasant job, and the miners earn every cent they earn.

    The Greens suggestion of tourism, and pest control jobs is not a realistic alternative. They are not well paid jobs, and too much tourism does not contribute to a strong community. That’s where Cunliffe’s focus on regional economic development could benefit the Coast.

    Coasters need meaningful employment alternatives to mining. And something like the forest accord dollars from the stopping of the native logging will not do the job either. The resulting trust was ill conceived and doomed to achieving little. I am sure that Cullen knew that at the time, it was just a means to an end.

    • karol 6.1

      The Greens have indicated a number of alternatives to mining. this from Catherine Delahunty a week ago:

      The Petroleum and Minerals Sector Report released by the Government today shows that mining employs just 6,000 people, compared to nearly 200,000 in manufacturing. It also shows that exports of coal and oil are declining and states that “most of the easily mined resources [of coal and gold] in New Zealand are close to exhausted” and “increasingly unprofitable”. The report fails to account for the environmental and economic cost of polluting our climate with more fossil fuels.
      “If our largest employer, manufacturing, got even half the attention that National lavishes on the jobs-poor mining sector, we would have a lower unemployment rate and more Kiwis in good jobs. National has ignored manufacturing while 40,000 jobs have been lost, concentrating instead on mining, which employs just 6,000 people in total.

      “The report shows that the wealth generated by mining isn’t staying with workers, it’s going to foreign mine owners.

      • Tracey 6.1.1

        that’s not really an alternative though karol, it’s a comparisson. Exactly HOW do the Greens see our manufacturing sector competing to gain a foothold strong enough to increase employment

        • karol

          Wasn’t that covered by the joint opposition party enquiry into manufacturing? Looking to tackle the jobs crisis in manufacturing?

          • Tracey

            sure, but your post didnt actually outline greens alternatives to mining …

            • karol

              True. But that’s about the first article I found from the Greens addressing the issue – and it is a recent one. I’d have to look further to find where they have mentioned alternatives.

            • karol

              The manufacturing alternatives don’t need to be heavily resource intensive.

              Press release today from Julie Anne Genter:

              “The crisis in manufacturing is a crisis for the whole economy. As our manufacturing output falls, we export fewer manufactured goods and import more of them, which widens our current account deficit and adds to our crippling international debt.

              “We need high-tech, high-skill, high-wage manufacturing to help us shrink our burgeoning international debt. It is central to a smarter, greener, and more prosperous future for New Zealand. Under National, manufacturing is withering.

              “Our Manufacturing Inquiry Report lays out a set of practical, proven steps to support manufacturing. Top of the list is policies to lower the exchange rate, having the government buy Kiwi-made whenever possible, and investing in research and development,” said Ms Genter.

        • Jenny Kirk

          One of the ways Labour has promoted improving job opportunities in the manufacturing sector, Tracey, is to have local firms being given a preference rating over international firms when it comes to tendering for contracts. eg the Hillside rail workshops in Dunedin need not have closed down if when they’d tendered for the new trains contract, the economic benefits of the work staying in NZ had been given equal weight to whatever the overseas tenderers were offering.

          • Tracey

            I understand that. In the case of the Hillside workers we are talking maybe 200 jobs. I am NOT downplaying that but wondering how both parties intend actually growing the manufacturing industry to create the kind of job numbers we need.

      • Rich the other 6.1.2

        Karol ,just more green garbage.

        This report is just Confirmation that we need all sectors to succeed , the fact that mining employs 6000 in an environment that is anti mining is promising, just imagine what a pro mining attitude could achieve , who knows , perhaps 20/30,000 workers in highly paid jobs ??

        Manufacturing , mostly minimum wage and totally dependant on petroleum and mining products.

        • Jenny Kirk

          To RTO – Those “highly paid” workers are a myth if Reefton and Waihi goldmining towns are anything to go by. According to Stats NZ, the locals in these towns have a median income of about $20,000pa (those aged between 15 and 65 years) and are mostly employed as labourers and suchlike in the mines there. The highly paid workers are the specialists, the engineers, project managers brought in from overseas. And they go back overseas when their job is done.
          And as for the maybe 30,000 workers – what would the mining do to the tourism industry which provides over 134,000 direct jobs (plus all the indirect jobs and benefits) ? The mining would decimate the tourist industry, and at the same time – decimate our environment.

          • Rich the other

            great stats alright , mostly caused by high unemployment caused by you lot.
            The dole is a large part of those figures.

            If 20/30000 people were employed in the resource industry they would be spread around the country on many different projects.

            The point you choose to miss is that we can have both, a tourist industry and a mining industry.

        • Macro

          Have you ANY idea of what utter rubbish you spout? Have you visited Waihi? Where goldmining has been going on for over a century – and despite being a nice little town is in the bottom economically as a community- very little of the money mined in the area finds its way into the town. It’s nearly all exported.
          And the social damage that results – the town split between those who want it (because they lack the vision to see any other form of employment, and those who are fed up with the constant noise and disruption caused by the mining process).
          No we don’t want to see any more Waihi’s thank you very much.

    • Tracey 6.2

      Thanks Josh. My family told me if they wanted to see a doctor they had to make an appointment with a nurse who then made an appointment for them with the doctor who visited on a Saturday. I am glad this is not the case.

      I had hoped the trust would have a similar impact as, say, the Ngai Tahi system created from their treaty settlement.

    • karen 6.3

      ‘tourism does not contribute to a strong community’

      …. tell that to Kaikoura

      • Winston Smith 6.3.1

        I suspect that the amount of dairy farms in and around Kaikoura is slightly more importent…

        • Colonial Viper

          Indeed. Unfortunately most dairy farms pay miserable wages too. $35K pa for 50-80 hour weeks? No thanks.

        • Retired Engineer

          $2m dairy farm.
          1 low tax paying capital growth focused owner.
          1 PAYE tax paying worker.
          $100k pa BoP outflow of interest to an Aus Bank.

          $500k tourism business
          1 low tax paying capital growth focused owner.
          5 PAYE tax paying worker
          Zero pa BoP outflow.

  7. Sable 7

    Good old Blackball. My family on my father’s side harked from there and were instrumental in founding the NZ Communist Party and had a role in Labour too.

    Personally hate the place, to call it a whistle stop is an understatement.

  8. vto 8

    there is a lot of anti-greens sentiment on the coast but it is an older generation thing and they are getting fewer each and every year. Dealing with those with that sentiment is near impossible as they just steam up and can’t see anything when confronted.

  9. millsy 9

    Rich the other, are you prepared to destory our national parks with mining and pollute the ground and water? Are you prepared to have children go sick from mercury poisoning for a few $$$?

    Personally, I belive that there needs to be some sort of deal about mining. Ending it altogether is unrealistic, but ripping up every single square inch of land, and destroying our national parks (even the Republicans wouldnt open up Yellowstone to mining) is not not something I want to do.

    I suggest letting a certain amount of mining go ahead in return for the protection of other areas. Perhaps letting Bathurst go thru to shut the rednecks up, but no new coal mines for 10 years, apart from in areas that were mined before, have the royalties go into a fund to purchase new conservation land, and also set up a School of Mines.

  10. Colonial Viper 10

    Is it too much to hope for an update from the Blackball meeting?

  11. nadis 12

    “after Hickey refused to finish his pie after his 15 minute crib time was up”

    Can anyone historically minded explain the incident? Not written very well on the encyclopedia. Do they mean he refused to go back to work after 15 minutes and continued eating his pie? Not sure he was sacked for refusing to finish his pie, unless his mum was his supervisor.

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