Call to arms for unionists

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 12:00 31/08/2011

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A political rally for Manawatu unionists sounded more like a call to arms for the Left as another poll shows the National Party could govern alone.

The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions held a political forum in Palmerston North last night.

About 100 people, mostly union members, heard from MPs Hone Harawira, Catherine Delahunty and David Cunliffe.

They were unaware of the latest Fairfax Media-Research International Poll results released today which put National on 57.1 per cent, Labour on 25.7 and the Greens on 11 per cent.

Mr Harawira, leader of the Mana Party, said the Left would have a hard fight this election campaign. Several times he referred to the election campaign as a war for the rights of the working class.

"We are at war with the super rich and the people that would keep them there," he said.

"Mana will fight for the people who can't fight for themselves."

However, he was short on ideas to fix issues all three politicians raised around unemployment, the cost of living and children in poverty, other than to say urgent, and drastic, action was needed.

Mr Cunliffe talked about how Labour would put money back into "the back pockets" of New Zealanders.

Policies included making the first $5000 earned tax free, taking GST off fruit and vegetables, and raising the minimum hourly wage to $15. He said if National won the election the negative impact of policies such as asset sales would be felt for a long time.

Green MP Mrs Delahunty agreed with Mr Harawira that the coming election would be a war. "There's no doubt beneficiaries and working people are under attack at this election."

Mrs Delahunty said the Greens were against free-trade deals that hurt workers, supported the cleanup of rivers such as the Manawatu and believed the Government should be working to create jobs.

She said statistics that showed 17 per cent of Kiwi children did not get breakfast were appalling.

"If you are a child you have the right to eat in this country."

She wondered how long it would be under a National Government before Oxfam ran campaigns in areas such as South Auckland and Northland asking donors to "adopt a child".

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- Manawatu Standard

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