Alf had thought – and hoped – the Alliance Party was a spent force.
Not so. The buggers have popped up to rail against wagons for KiwiRail being made in China.
Presumably the surviving remnants of the Alliance are unable to recognise a more ominous Chinese threat: a new political party which is doing its plotting in Beijing.
The Alliance seems to be ignoring the new party. It prefers to bray its support for a bunch of union trouble-makers who are looking for ways of frustrating KiwiRail.
We learned earlier this week that railway wagons built in China and bound for New Zealand’s railway network may not be unloaded, if the Maritime Union carries out its threat.
It’s all to do with KiwiRail’s decision to award a $29 million contract to build 300 open-top wagons to China CNR Corporation instead of Hillside Engineering’s workshops in Dunedin, which submitted a tender.
Alf’s recollection is that KiwiRail chief executive Jim Quinn said the Hillside tender was too expensive and the workshop appeared unlikely to be able to meet the mid-2011 delivery deadline.
If that be so, it seems eminently business-like to have gone somewhere else.
But trade unions – and the Alliance – aren’t too strong on being eminently business-like.
So the union’s president, one Phil Adams, is reported as saying it will do whatever is needed and whatever is appropriate to encourage New Zealand to use its own industry.
Alf presumes the judgements on what is needed and what is appropriate will be made by the aforementioned union.
The likelihood they will be poor judgements is made plain by Adam’s statement as reported in the ODT –
“It’s a possibility that we would consider not unloading the carriages when they arrive at New Zealand ports.
“A lot of people are saying we should do something in a couple of months. But the Maritime Union believes we should act now.
“We are trying to be proactive – to try and stop what is happening at Hillside.
“New Zealand is not supporting its own industry enough, and they are more than capable of doing the work.
“If we don’t unload the containers, it would go a long way to bringing the situation to a head. It would highlight the plight of Hillside on a nationwide scale.
“If Hillside ask for our support, we’ll give it.”
Never mind that the the Rail and Maritime Transport Union of New Zealand, which represents workers at Hillside, believes it is too early to consider that option.
National president Jim Kelly, of Dunedin, said he had discussed the idea with Mr Adams, but believed there might be other ways to deal with the situation.
The issue will be raised within the next month at a National Affiliates Council meeting, where members of associated unions will discuss the details and a possible way forward, Kelly said.
Fair to say, several Dunedin engineering firms have criticised KiwiRail’s decision and urged the Government to recognise Hillside’s value.
They warned anything that sent New Zealand money overseas threatened jobs and undermined local manufacturing.
Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie said that while Hillside’s tender was more expensive, its value to gross domestic product could have outstripped the deficit.
However, all was not lost, he said.
A substantial number of wagons was still to be built and he believed there would be other opportunities for Hillside to get some of the work.
“We’re looking at the bigger picture.”
But that’s not good enough for the Alliance.
Co leader Kay Murray says that the Alliance Party welcomes the news that the Maritime Union may refuse to unload KiwiRail’s new wagons when they arrive from China.
“Maritime Union President Phil Adams is absolutely correct. New Zealand needs to give top priority to supporting its own industry if there is to be any work for New Zealanders in the future.
It is common sense that the wagons should be built in KiwiRail’s own workshops keeping taxpayers money in New Zealand and providing jobs for New Zealanders. However the government has a different agenda revolving around international free trade agreements.
So if the Maritime Union is prepared to take a stand against the importation of these wagons – in the blinkered thinking of the sad old Alliance – it must be supported.
But Alf is much more bothered by political developments involving the Chinese.
He has observed that a new political party linked to the businessman behind a failed Chinese bid for the Crafar dairy farms is talking about contesting the Botany byelection.
So where do they meet to do their planning?
Somewhere in Auckland?
The Herald today informs us that –
Jack Chen, who claims to be the force behind Natural Dairy NZ’s bid for the farms, met key leaders of the fledgling New Citizen Party in Beijing last week to discuss plans for its future.
The Herald has talked with a party supporter who did not want to be named.
Hmm. What’s going on that these buggers don’t want to identify themselves?
Anyway, this anonymous person said that at the meeting, Chen outlined a “two-step plan” to win parliamentary seats.
“First, there’s a plan to win Botany by winning the support of the migrants, who make up more than half of the voters there,” he said, speaking in Mandarin.
“Our party leaders will then be talking with Maori tribes to also get their party votes for us to get at least six candidates as MPs at this year’s election.”
We are on a slippery slope here.
The Maori Party has demonstrated all too effectively the political muscle that can be flexed by a small bunch of politicians whose support is dependent on their promoting a pro-Maori – or racist – agenda.
The Maori Party’s agenda at least is an indigenous one.
This can’t be said of a party that is doing its plotting in Beijing.