Prats in the Nats on China’s miners

Written By: - Date published: 5:52 pm, November 15th, 2007 - 25 comments
Categories: national, workers' rights - Tags: ,

How’s this for small-minded prejudice from National Party backbencher Kate Wilkinson in a press release today complaining about the $84,000 dollars for a Labour Dept to help provide health and safety training for Chinese coal miners:

Ms Wilkinson says Kiwi taxpayers will clearly be surprised to learn that the New Zealand Government is effectively subsidising the Chinese coal industry.

I don’t know the total value of the Chinese coal industry, it’s probably in the trillions, but I am sure that NZ$84,000 wouldn’t go very far as a subsidy.

But that $84,000 will be absolutely priceless in terms of our future relations with China. Mine safety is a hugely important issue for China, and the programme also includes information about available technology for emissions reduction, which could have immense future economic benefits for New Zealand and environmental benefits for the world. Safety in Chinese mines is so important that the US is also investing $2.3million, Australia $4million and the EU $1million euros in the project. New Zealand unions were the pathbreakers.

Rangiora Kate should talk to her colleagues Tim Groser and John Hayes about the wider world and New Zealand’s place in it.

25 comments on “Prats in the Nats on China’s miners”

  1. Camryn 1

    A worthy goal, I agree. A benefit of some small sorts (not quite priceless) to our international relations, I also agree. But, why isn’t China paying for it itself? Just sayin’.

    Also, how much did the pathbreaking NZ unions contribute to their working bretheren, or do they only advocate Chinese mine safety on the taxpayer dime?

  2. Some good points, John A.

    In fact, NZ$84k is actually pretty miserly of the Government. Mining safety is a huge problem in China, and in this context the left should be criticising the Government for not giving more.

    In fact it’s disappointing to see this post attempt to justify this expenditure on the basis of NZ’s national interests. Why can’t such aid be given and justified purely on the basis of the good it will do? This type of argument falls into the trap of the National Party style of logic whereby aid is given on the basis of trade, NZ’s strategic interests, and our “economic benefit”. But then again, Labour does indeed share a very similar foreign policy to National, so we shouldn’t expect any difference.


  3. Leftie 3

    Seems to be a common type of comment from your camp. Are we really such a bunch of tightarses? Why would Australia and the USA give substantially more money as well?
    Maybe you would like to suggest we reduce or eliminate our international aid? Of course this would give us more money to enable tax cuts for the rich.

  4. Robinsod 4

    Bryce – I’d say if we’re talking aid we should be looking at better spend than China. As much as Camryn and I disagree on many things I’d like to see the biggest holder of US T-bonds cough up a few bucks for the safety of its own citizens.

  5. Sceptic 5

    I think the issues here are (a) why is the Department of Labour engaging in international aid projects, surely that’s the job of MFAT/NZAID rather than a department that should be looking after New Zealand’s Labour Market and (b) China is an odd place for us to be spending our ‘aid’ dollars if the DOL is a place that should be giving out international aid in the first place.

    In terms of the $84,000 be absolutely priceless in terms of a future relations with China I’d say that 84k is less than peanuts to the Chinese so there is little value in terms of international political capital and why would the Chinese Government really value so highly the teaching of labour safety standards that they obviously don’t believe in enough to legislate for in the first place.

  6. Leftie 6

    Probably because they are “labour safety standard” deniers.
    Have you not heard the saying: “its not the size of the gift, it’s the gesture”.
    Maybe one day they can help us out.

  7. Lee C 7

    Chinese miners die in their droves every year. We import cheap Chinese goods.
    China pollutes and ravages its countryside.
    We buy Chinese goods.
    China tortures and executes its people.
    We buy Chinese goods.
    China is a Nuclear power.
    We welcome their warships.

    In return, we export our:
    abuse of workers’ rights
    abuse of human rights
    our ecological damage
    our pollution
    our sovereignty
    our credentials as a civilised society
    – to China.


  8. Robert owen 8

    lee that is why you should vote GREEN

  9. If this were a viable aid project, then I wouldn’t mind. But since when did the frigging CTU become an aid organisation? And since when did the contestable fund become an aid instrument?

  10. The Prophet 10

    So, Does the Standard officially support coal mining in China?

    Leftie – How much money do you need to have to be ‘rich’ in your opinion?

  11. Leftie 11

    The Prophet
    Enough money to be able to throw a million dollars at the political party that you want in power.

  12. Long time listener 12

    I think the EPMU got it about right:

    “The EPMU helps Chinese miners because we value human life. National’s criticism of this is astonishingly short-sighted and petty, and makes clear where their party stands on decent labour standards – they don’t care.” (

    Cheap political point scoring from National. They needed to be called on it.

  13. Policy Parrot 13

    Perhaps Kate Wilkinson secretly admire Chinese labour practices and therefore, doesn’t want us to help improve things.

    She obviously thinks workers rights there are fine, which is good for her as her party seeks to drive our own working rights down to the same common denominator.

    Now, does anyone really think either Waimakariri or West-Coast Tasman electorates will be even slightly vulnerable?

    Who need enemies when you have friends like Wilkinson?

  14. Daveo 14

    Also, how much did the pathbreaking NZ unions contribute to their working bretheren, or do they only advocate Chinese mine safety on the taxpayer dime?

    I understand the CTU and the EPMU contributed significant staff resource and expertise and basically ran the project themselves. The DoL funding was helpful but the unions ran the actual operation and have continued their relationship with the Chinese miners, because unlike the National Party they see working conditions and international labour standards as important.

  15. r0b 15

    Bryce – ” But then again, Labour does indeed share a very similar foreign policy to National, so we shouldn’t expect any difference.”

    Let me mention one minor, trifling, insignificant difference between the two. National would have taken us into Bush’s (lie based) war in Iraq. Labour, to their eternal credit, did not.

  16. Leftie 16

    As they say “feeds the rich while it buries the poor”

  17. r0b 17

    Leftie – didn’t know that one (GNR kinda passed me by) – but like it, ta.

  18. Lee C 18

    Robert Owen
    “lee that is why you should vote GREEN”

    except Green = Labour = Nationalite

    I might as well have voted for Pontious Pilate during the crucifixion.

  19. Sam Dixon 19

    Guys, I understand the $84K isn’t just a bucket of cash we gave the Chinese – if it was one could legitimately question why we gave it to them – the $84K is the cost of the program for which we are providing… what we’re really providing is resoruces to improve mine safety training that the Chinese didn’t have.

    Bryce – isn’t all alturism ultimately self-interested?

  20. Steveb 20

    Labour and National’s foreign aid policies are very similar, so lets not pretend that the Nats are a bunch of meanies opposed to foreign aid. That’s just fucking stupid.

    It’s absolutely fair game for National to criticize foreign aid if it’s being pissed away in stupid half arsed undeserving schemes, or if it’s being politicised, or as in this case, both.

    China should sort its own fucking coal mine safety out. They’re rich enough, smart enough, and more importantly, they’re socialists(so of course they care about the workers right?).

    So yes, while I feel for the poor little coal miners, we have higher aid priorities.
    If the Kiwi coal miners want to do a quick whip around themselves and help out their less fortunate Chinese comrades, they should be applauded for it, but this isn’t their money, it’s ours. More proof that the unions run the Labour party.

    Funny that you linked to this lame post from kiwiblog Sam, what a fucking embarrassment.

  21. PhilBest 21

    What happened to my post a few hours ago? Typical effing totalitarian censors.

    I said: And what happens when the Chinese Communist Party nationalises everything again and tells all the private investors to piss off, and shoots a whole lot of them to make an example of “the capitalists”? You guys are lefties, you’re in on the plot, you KNOW this is going to happen.


  22. Nih 22

    You most likely got the captcha wrong. It’s worth reloading the page after posting to make sure it really worked, since it *appears* to post it even if you fail the humanity test.

  23. PhilBest 23

    Nih, thanks for that. Bit deceptive though isn’t it? Decent blog sites tell you straight away if you fail the captcha, and ask you again. And frankly, the decipherability of some of the ones I’ve seen here is marginal.

  24. Nih 24

    Oh I don’t know. Generally if something outsmarts one person but not everybody else then it’s not considered deceptive. Nice initial reaction too, very calm of you.

  25. Robinsod 25

    “Best”? I’m not really so sure about that at all…

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