- Murray Horton
The past year has been very much business as usual, indeed, in some aspects, it has seen a decline weve been less in the media and the public eye; our membership has slightly declined, for the first time in years. On the other hand, our roots go deep and an awful lot of our very productive work goes behind the scenes, in all sorts of areas.
The unglamorous basics of my work dont change very much, so great chunks of my 2000 report and those of earlier years can be repeated verbatim. I am CAFCA secretary, and it is routine administrative work that takes up a lot of my time. That is the pitfall of having just one fulltime worker. What has become noticeable in the past few years is that the great majority of our correspondence (and a whole lot of other work) is now done by e-mail or via the Internet. CAFCAs existence in cyberspace has become every bit as important as that in the real world. The predictions of the world becoming divided between the information rich and the information poor appear to be true (whether thats a good or a bad thing is another subject altogether).
Because we have recently conducted our annual membership renewal, a disproportionate amount of time has been spent updating the membership list and banking the loot. Not that I'm complaining. Membership fees and donations are the backbone of our finances. Unlike so many other small groups we don't have to ask for loans or grants, and we are financially self-sufficient (plus we can usually finance special campaigns largely out of our own funds).
But over the past couple of years, a new pattern has emerged, and we have felt the pinch. The result has been that we have had to ask our members for increased donations just to meet our actual running costs, as opposed to special campaigns and projects. Its no secret what our increased expenses have been. We depend on a few key pieces of equipment, which get a hard life. In my 2000 Report I mentioned that wed just had to spend several hundred dollars getting our laser printer fixed. Well, within the past month, its given up the ghost and we were advised it was no longer economic to fix it. For the first time ever, we couldnt even retrieve anything from selling an old machine it was fit only to be dumped. We have since bought another printer, which will (hopefully) be able to cope better with the sheer volume of paper we churn out. Whoever coined the term "paperless office" needs to be committed. E-mail and publications, reports, etc, that arrive electronically make up most of our printers output. And you do need to have a lot of it in hard copy colleagues of ours have learned the hard way what happens when you keep everything on hard drive only, then a virus comes along and wipes that out. I dont know about other people but I prefer to read things, on paper, in my hand (not a screen). Weve been hit by a number of viruses in recent years, although not catastrophically (theyve been at the bloody nuisance level). Being on the Internet costs CAFCA hundreds of dollars per year, and thats at rock bottom mates rates, with unlimited volume. We owe Plain Communications a big vote of thanks for their very generous support. And well be spending hundreds more per year on making our domain name easier to find and redirecting people to our Website (since done. See elsewhere in this issue for CAFCAs new Web address. Ed.). Then there are the costs of actual campaigns for instance, CAFCA paid to fly me to Wellington, in April, to represent the organisers at the first Roger Award event to be held outside Christchurch.
Our regular income has noticeably dropped in the past couple of years. We have a number of theories on why that is so: people are facing hard times (that is a given); we, and groups like us, never do so well under Labour governments; and, finally, the triumph of e-mail means that the great bulk of our mail comes that way now (its not uncommon for there to be no mail for us for days on end at our PO Box that used to be extremely rare) and so we dont get good old letters with donations enclosed.
Im pleased to report that members have maintained their financial support, despite times being tough for many. We appealed for more donations and you responded splendidly. After the first fortnight of membership renewals (which is the crucial time after our annual membership renewal mailout), I banked just under $4,000, which is $500 less than the comparable time in 2000, but much better than 1999 and 98. Many thanks for your generous response. Hopefully we wont become one of those pain in the arse organisations which are forever asking their members for more money. Our strength is our independence from all funding agencies, the State, or anybody else that can pull strings, call tunes, or cut us off without a penny. Our friends in Christchurch Corso have recently gone through a seemingly endless legal war with their national office, in Dunedin, involving battles over their jobs, building, bank accounts, PO Box, phone and fax numbers, etc, etc, not to mention their very existence as an organisation. The tragic Corso situation provides an extremely powerful negative example for us there are definite disadvantages in running things the way CAFCA does, but I dont foresee that we will ever have Corsos sort of problems. Nobody can be sacked or dispossessed we dont employ anyone nor do we have a building or a head office to tell us what to do. CAFCA continues to exist and chart our own course Christchurch Corso, so long a leading player in the local progressive movement, is no more.
Our financial base is our membership that just means that sometimes we have to come to you with cap in hand. We have zero debt, we pay all our bills in full and on time, we have very low overheads none of CAFCAs money goes on wages or office rental, power, rates, etc, etc. We run a lean and efficient operation.
For the first time in several years, membership has declined, slightly, to just below 500 (for several years it was steady at 500-550). Contrary to the impression given by the prevalence of obituaries in Watchdog, we dont believe that our members are dying off. The reasons for membership decline are doubtless linked to the same reasons as why our regular income is down. But we continue to pick up new members and quite a few of our members pay for others to join. To keep things in perspective that reduced income from our annual membership renewal came from a smaller membership base, yet was nearly as much as that from a bigger membership in the past couple of years. Viewed that way, we are in fact, doing OK, and our income is more than holding its own. And, for the first time, we used the new technology to chase up overdue members. We contacted all of those with e-mail addresses and gave them one last chance to pay up quite a few did so.
The CAFCA/ABC Organiser Account, which provides my income, is independent of both CAFCA and the Anti-Bases Campaign. It too has fallen somewhat but not so much as to be a major problem. Ironically, one factor has been this Governments reinstating the annual increase in the minimum wage. The number of pledgers is holding relatively steady some leave, others join but it is the donations that are vital. For a decade now I have relied on the generosity of members and supporters it has not failed me yet. Individuals and organisations continue to send donations of hundreds of dollars at a time it is very humbling to receive such constant and concrete manifestations of support.
CAFCA can still afford to be (carefully) generous in the past year, we have donated money to our sister organisation, the Anti-Bases Campaign (for the national speaking tour by Canadian ex-spy, Mike Frost); to the newly launched group, ARENA, for its work on the Hong Kong Free Trade and Investment Agreement (in which Bill Rosenberg has been very prominent); to our friends in the Water Pressure Group, in Auckland, who are fighting those who aim to corporatise and privatise the water services of our biggest city and hock them off to the water transnationals waiting in the wings; and we have offered to put money into the combined campaign against Novembers meeting of the World Trade Organisation, in Qatar (the first since the legendary Battle of Seattle).
My daily routines haven't changed - collecting and processing mail six days a week (including the daily deluge of e-mail); correspondence; reading and analysing publications for fortnightly committee meetings; banking; handling orders for CAFCA material; clipping papers and gathering material for our files and as research for articles. This stuff has to be done daily, otherwise it can easily get away on me, and become a major headache. After the annual membership renewal, I have to spend a lot of time updating the mailing list and banking the money. If I go away for even just a few days theres an awful lot of catching up to be done upon return. I am the de facto treasurer; I am responsible for getting all office supplies and for getting any dysfunctional equipment repaired. Then there are the spontaneous approachs from members, the public and the media for information or statements on a whole raft of subjects.
Watchdogis our flagship, it is our point of contact with members and the world at large. We are very satisfied by it, and get a lot of positive feedback. We have now settled on producing three issues per year in April, August and December. It is now regularly sold in two Christchurch bookshops (in the past year we have lost two Auckland and one Christchurch outlets two of them because they have closed). We dont pursue shop sales, because its a lot of hassle for very little return, and because Watchdog is never going to look or read like the multitude of magazines available (therein lies its charm). It is now the best looking and most extensively illustrated that its ever been, but its still not an easy subject to illustrate. As you may have noticed, graphics and even photos tend to get recycled a lot. Otherwise it really would just be page upon page of text. So, this is an appeal - if youve got cartoons or graphics that are suitable for Watchdog, send them to us.
There has been one practical problem in the past year, and one that is beyond our control. The chaos within Corso, which has led to the wilful destruction of Christchurch Corso (see above) deprived us, and lots of other people, of access to the Corso building, in Barbadoes Street. That has impacted directly on the layout of Watchdog, because that is where it used to be done. No more. For the past year, it has been heroically done by Leigh Cookson, peering into the tiny screen of a laptop, working from home, and running around town several times per issue delivering and collecting drafts and corrected editions, whilst trying to coordinate computers and printers. If youve noticed a few more layout errors creeping in, that is the explanation we have been working in less than ideal circumstances. Hopefully, ARENA will get itself an office soon and this will resolve itself.
Watchdog remains the journal of record on foreign control. The guts of every issue remains Bill Rosenbergs meticulous chronicling and analysing of the monthly approvals by the Overseas Investment Commission. Plus Bill provides us with his excellent writing and analysis on other subjects - over the past year, his speciality has been the rash of bilateral free trade agreements being foisted on us. He has done cover stories on the Closer Economic Partnership with Singapore and the proposed Free Trade and Investment Agreement with Hong Kong. The current issue (i.e. number 97, August 2001. Ed.) also features his analysis of the decline and fall of the Fletcher empire. Myself, Bill and Dennis Small are the main three regular writers. Dennis is legendary for his book reviews that are usually longer than the book (I know, from the other publications I edit, that Dennis can be a very concise writer when he wants to be, but Watchdog gives him the luxury of being able to expostulate at length, and fully vent his considerable spleen at old enemies such as Mike Moore). This current issue contains an excellent article by Dennis on the new dairy mega-company (now named Fonterra). The current issue is notable also for the couple of articles by Pete Lusk, one of our founding members from the 1970s. Indeed we now receive unsolicited articles from members, but were choosy about what we publish.
Watchdog prides itself on being a newsletter, publishing news that you wont find elsewhere. That tends to be my speciality. Since 1996, we have followed, in great detail, the continuing saga arising out of the bungled SIS break in at Aziz Choudrys home. Pressure of other work means that I dont get as much Watchdog writing done as I would like (I do far more actual writing for the ABCs Peace Researcher and even the Philippines Solidarity Networks Kapatiran), but I do specialise in subjects like the Suharto assets in this country, which Ive followed for years. And more latterly, Tranz Rail (I was a Railways worker and union official for my first decade and a half in CAFCA).
Its not all depressing facts, table of figures, and heavy analysis. Watchdog prides itself on the personal touch, and readers respond very warmly to that. My obituaries always get a warm response. Over the years, I have been told how much people value those obituaries, and it has been suggested (only half jokingly) that we should publish a collected edition. Judging from the demographic fact of our aging membership, there wont be any shortage of obituaries in the foreseeable future. Perhaps Id better write my own in advance to ensure nobody else gets to pass posthumous judgement on me. And Watchdog is absolutely value for money, on sheer weight alone - the three issues since the last AGM total over 230 pages. Sometime we have to cut material out of them, because the printers cant handle anything more than 80 pages. So they could be even bigger.
There havent been any other CAFCA publications in the past year. Ive had no time to update my "Beginners Guide To Foreign Control" since mid 2000, and its not a top priority. But Bill has produced the definitive study of the proposed Hong Kong Agreement, published by ARENA, and has done an enormous amount of writing and researching on that subject. That booklet alone has been widely circulated throughout Parliament, political parties, all manner of organisations and the general public. We continue to see evidence that it is having an impact. A recent Independent column, by our old mate, Chris Trotter, commented that Bill and Jane Kelsey, and ARENA as a group, constituted the most serious opposition to the Government on the Hong Kong Agreement. The country owes Bill an enormous vote of thanks for this unpaid work, which he fits in around a demanding job and a family.
We are well established as an electronic publisher now both Foreign Control Watchdog and CAFCA have their own separate (but linked) Websites. Many thanks to Greg Waite for his hard work running the Watchdog site (from Australia, proof that we actively practise internationalism, which should never be confused with globalisation). It's a no frills site - all text, no illustrations. What you see is how it goes to layout (complete with the odd layout instruction), not as it finally appears in Watchdog. We have neither the time, nor the expertise to make it look better. CAFCAs Website (maintained by Bill) features his encyclopaedic writeups of the Overseas Investment Commission decisions, various of our Fact Sheets and my "Beginners Guide", briefing papers on subjects such as the Suharto assets in NZ and an on line nomination form for the 2001 Roger Award (nominations have since closed. Ed.). Increasingly we get unsolicited comments from strangers who find our Websites of great value these range from top flight Australian TV current affairs shows to NZ documentary makers; from editors of the likes of New Internationalist to an expatriate Kiwi in France who has linked his personal Website to that of CAFCA so that his family and friends can directly access our material.
The Taking Contol Electronic List Server (named after our 1998 Taking Control: The Fightback Against Transnational Corporate Power Conference) is a very lively and informative electronic discussion group. CAFCA material continues to crop up in all manner of publications, some of them very unlikely, because of the range of facts and analysis that we offer that they cant get anywhere else (we get sought out even by outright ideological enemies, such as an ACT MP who wanted information). And CAFCA material is cropping up more and more in the mainstream media that ACT MP was debating the Greens Rod Donald, in the New Zealand Herald, on the subject of a corporate code of responsibility. Both were citing CAFCA material. Bill continues to be the "respectable" face of CAFCA and has had articles published in the Press, other major papers, and has been several times in the Listener (not to mention Telstra Saturn Business on TV1) in his ARENA capacity, about the Hong Kong Agreement.
Work With Other Groups
I am co-employed by the Anti-Bases Campaign, which usually takes up less of my time than CAFCA. But not in the past year. ABC work has kept me very busy. My main contribution is as co-editor of Peace Researcher, which was not part of my job description when I started as the CAFCA/ABC Organiser, back in 1991. Indeed I did little or no writing for PR back then. I only ended up as co-editor when Warren Thomson headed off to Bangkok, in 1997, and now that he plans to stay there indefinitely, it looks like Ill be doing it for a while longer. Its a job that involves me doing much more actual writing than for Watchdog, but I enjoy keeping my hand in on subjects that CAFCA used to, but no longer, specialise in. But something has to give, and Bob Leonard and I can only commit to get out two issues a year (a far cry from PRs original frequency). PR is a much smaller undertaking than Watchdog, with a smaller mailing list, and a different emphasis (although in some areas we overlap).
ABC has followed CAFCA online, and now has its own Website (complete with PR online). Melanie Thomson did all the hard work setting it up, then had to head off to London, on her Big OE, before getting it uploaded. It sat in suspended animation for months until Joe Davies kindly (foolishly?) agreed to be ABCs Webmaster. There followed an intensive period of feverish work getting it updated and operational. It has come with more daunting technical challenges than the CAFCA/Watchdog sites, because it includes high quality photos, which caused their own problems. But its all up and running now, and is leading to ABC making all sorts of cyberspace contacts for example, an article of mine (on the US military in the Philippines) has been reproduced on a US Website (of self-proclaimed "libertarian Republicans") and they, in turn, flicked on to the online English edition of Pravda. Thats a first in all my years as a tool of the Kremlin, Ive never been published in Pravda.
In January we held another protest at the Waihopai spybase (which involved me in a lot of work over the summer "holiday" period, when CAFCA wasnt meeting). It was planned to be peaceful, non-arrestable, and something that families could come to. It worked brilliantly on all counts. People came from around the country and it was attended by two MPs - the Greens Rod Donald and Keith Locke. We ran a Spies Picnic (featuring a vegetarian sausage sizzle) in central Blenheim, and got a respectable number of Blenheim locals along. In a stroke of genius, local activists made us a "Waihopai cake" (featuring a pair of truly mammarian domes, which we took great delight in eating). We issued everybody with our specially printed "Undemocratic Republic of UKUSA" passports, which were inspected by Uncle Sam (Bob Leonard, in his annual Oscar-worthy performance he went to the trouble of getting a costume especially made this year) before they were allowed to enter the foreign territory of the base. We were legally allowed up to the spybases inner gate to speak and present our demand that the base be closed (and that Uncle Sam go back to Texas our presence at Waihopai coincided with Bushs Inauguration). It got excellent national media coverage TV crews flew in, it featured prominently on that nights TVNZ One News; plus there was extensive coverage on radio and in the print media (the Marlborough Express really covers this issue). After years of camping out by the Wairau River (which emphasised our status as outsiders), a Waihopai Valley farmer has happily let us camp on his land a very short walk from the base for the past two years.
But my real ABC work has been elsewhere. I reported to last years AGM that we were hoping to bring out a former spy on a national speaking tour, subject to finance. Well thats on, its been one of my major projects for the past year (18 months since it was first proposed), and is due to take place in October. Mike Frost, who spent 34 years as a Canadian spy, and is now a writer and speaker, will be ABCs guest for two weeks, speaking at eight venues from Christchurch to Whangarei. We set ourselves a $5,000 budget, raised it easily, then got another $2,000 from one of the Governmentappointed committees which distribute the Rainbow Warrior blood money (very handy too, as extra expenses have inevitably cropped up). Weve strung together a network of local organisers and activists, publicised it widely, and attracted great interest from the media (both Kim Hill and TVNZs 60 Minutes * had booked interviews before Id even aproached the media. Neither ABC nor CAFCA have attracted their attention before). This is the first time ABC has done this - a previous overseas expert was coming here already on a private holiday, in the late 1990s and we piggybacked on that - but Ive organised national speaking tours before (and accompanied the speakers, which Im not doing with Frost), so I knew what I was letting myself in for. It is an extremely labour intensive job, dealing with anything from trying to arrange meetings with the Deputy Prime Minister ** to advising Frost on whether he can get an adaptor here for his wifes North American hairdryer. It hasnt all been plain sailing we have encountered perfectly understandable opposition from some of our closest colleagues on the political morality of paying for former spies to come here. And weve had differences with Frost himself, primarily caused by him not being "one of us". * 60 Minutes cancelled, at the 59th minute. ** A meeting with Jim Anderton couldnt be arranged. Ed.
Organising a speaking tour by a North American ex-spy brings back many mixed memories for me. Back in the mid 1980s, before ABC existed, when CAFCA was still CAFCINZ and it specialised in Intelligence matters, I spent three years negotiating with Philip Agee, the famous former CIA agent turned author and political activist, to tour NZ and Australia. Ive got a pile of letters as a souvenir (the way things were organised before e-mail, faxes and cheap international calls; it amazes me when I look back on it now). Agee finally rang me (on my birthday!) to cancel and that left a bitter taste all round. So far were doing a lot better with Mike Frost (contact ABC, same postal and e-mail address as CAFCA, for a full report on the Frost tour. Ed.).
The Waihopai protest and the Frost tour organisation have accounted for nearly all of my ABC work in the past year. But weve also made submissions on a couple of spy agency Bills; weve held a public meeting on one, and picketed the local office of the Security Intelligence Service (which got good media coverage). Plus theres been ongoing ABC media work, and international networking, from Australia to Britain and Japan.
But ABC is struggling to maintain a committee we lost Warren Thomson (permanently, it now seems), in 1997; in the past year, we have lost his daughter, Melanie, who is teaching in London, and Greg Jones, who felt a strong and immediate need to get a life. On the other hand we have picked up Robyn Dann (and her five year old whirling Dervish, Aleks) as a direct result of our active campaigning. Robyn has done the unthinkable and volunteered to be treasurer. After the Frost tour, we will hold our first strategy meeting for 18 months and consider our future. I am confident that both ABC and Peace Researcher will continue. At least theres no Waihopai demo planned for this summer, which means that I can actually have a break over Christmas.
I am on the committee of GATT Watchdog, which keeps on keeping on, although seriously affected by the destruction of Christchurch Corso (see above). It has lost its office and meeting place (we now meet at our place), and has been dragged through the legal system over a prolonged period of months. In the past year ARENA has been launched and it has assumed the high profile role of coordinating research and opposition to the Hong Kong Free Trade and Investment Agreement. As already mentioned, Bill Rosenberg is one of the leading figures in that research and campaign. He has written the definitive booklet on the subject, spoken at public meetings around the country, lobbied MPs and political parties (some of which Ive done with him), and generally slogged his guts out on this one. I should make clear that I am not involved in ARENA (beyond being one of its sponsors). GATT Watchdog has been in existence for a decade now and has done much excellent work in that time. Currently it is somewhat of an Ugly Sister to ARENA (all three groups CAFCA, ARENA and GW met earlier this year to thrash out their relationship to each other. There is quite an overlap of committee personnel, but very different emphases). As well as being a committee member, I sometimes write for its publication, The Big Picture.
Aziz Choudry and Leigh Cookson are the workhorses of GATT Watchdog (with Leigh simultaneously doing all the essential work at ARENA). Aziz is embarking on a major research project on the impact of globalisation on the Pacific; he spends an increasing amount of time speaking at overseas conferences, leaving for another batch of them within weeks.
In the past couple of years, the world has witnessed a massive uprising against "globalisation" (which is just a modern word for imperialism). Millions have marched against it; tens of thousands have fought its enforcers in the streets; thousands have been arrested, beaten and injured; a few have been killed. It is the phenomenon of the age and its got the transnationals and their political mouthpieces running scared. Big, militant demos have not been part of the New Zealand movement against globalisation. The advantage is that the debate here has had to focus on the issue, not the extraneous "law and order" hysteria that it has become in many other countries. This year, we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the massive protests against the 1981 Springbok tour (of which I was one small part). That was a classic example of an issue getting sidetracked into a law and order hysteria. Having said that, often it needs just such a mass mobilisation, with the attendant hysteria, for the core issue to reach critical mass. That hasnt happened yet with the globalisation debate in this country.
But weve got nothing of which to be ashamed. For the past decade, long before globalisation was an issue in this country or anywhere else, a handful of people in Christchurch have coordinated a national movement on what were long considered "boring trade issues", developing a level of expertise and credibility that is quite unparalleled. To give just one example the patient work of all of us (CAFCA, GATT Watchdog and now ARENA) has persuaded the Christchurch City Council to consistently come out publicly on the right side of the argument on all these trade and investment issues over recent years, to the extent that the Government has specifically targeted Christchurch and the Council in its propaganda offensive to sell us the Hong Kong Agreement. Chris Trotter may have been exaggerating in his Independent column (see above) but hes basically right. That handful of Christchurch people (with a few others in other centres) is the most consistently formidable opposition in New Zealand to the globalisation agenda. I dont claim to be any sort of leading light in it, but I am proud to be part of it. Right now, I personally, and both GATT Watchdog and CAFCA, are taking a leading role in the coalition (which we brought together) to organise a day of action, in Christchurch, to coincide with the opening of the WTO Ministerial Meeting, in Qatar, in November. (you can see photos of this action at www.interactive.orcon.net.nz/frontpage/html Ed.)
My other involvement is with the Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa, which keeps on ticking over. PSNA has also been seriously affected by the destruction of Christchurch Corso. The Philippines Resource Centre was upstairs in the Corso building, and, at very short notice, we had to move the lot out. Some of it is now in my office at home; the rest is still piled up in our garage (which is far from ideal). Moving out was a sad business it reminded us that opening that Centre, back in 1996, was the last public PSNA task performed by Father Mark Moesbergen, before his tragic death in a car crash later that year. And moving out was not the end national Corso dragged PSNA through the courts (along with the buildings other tenants) for several months (unsuccessfully, were now pleased to report. Ed.).
PSNA is quietly working away on a major project, for 2002 we will bring out a leading woman trade unionist from the KMU (May First Movement) to speak on the impact of globalisation on women, specifically Third World women. It will be our contribution to the debate on globalisation in election year (you might be interested to know that Crispin Beltran, the KMU leader whom we toured through NZ in 1999, was elected to Congress this year. His party topped the list vote and provides the first Marxist representation in the Philippines House of Representatives for more than 50 years). And we intend to go on line and set up our own Website.
I continue to edit PSNAs newsletter Kapatiran (Solidarity), which comes third behind Watchdog and Peace Researcher in my editorial priorities. So Im only aiming at a modest two issues per year. But its all good solid stuff, as big as (if not bigger than) PR, and we always aim to be relevant to Kiwis. The last issue featured six writers, more than write for Watchdog or Peace Researcher (and Kapatiran provides proof that Dennis Small is perfectly capable of writing articles considerably shorter than the 20 page doorstops he contributes to Watchdog).
This has been a year of personal milestones. I turned 50, and had a bloody good party to celebrate it. Becky and I have just celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary. On the other hand, Ive just been prescribed (reading) glasses for the first time in my life, so old age and infirmity is catching up with me. Im acutely aware of the fact that we havent had any sort of break away for 18 months, and that 1998 was the last time we had a holiday of more than a week. Being self-employed and working from home is an attractive lifestyle but getting away from work and the workplace (your own home) is a problem.
I have been the Organiser for nearly ten years now, which is an extremely long time for a job funded entirely by the regular pledges and donations of CAFCA and ABC members and supporters. It is remarkable and I didnt envisage it holding out this long when I embarked on it as a 40 year old redundant Railways labourer, back in 1991. Once again, I take the opportunity to thank you for your generosity. The Organiser Account has dropped to a regular $3,500 - $5,000 but is still healthy and viable. My pay is $308 per week gross, which is the minimum wage. Some pledgers have left; others have joined, we can always do with more. This continuing financial support is a most gratifying vote of confidence in the work that we, and I, do. I particularly thank all the donors (some who have given thousands of dollars over the years), because it is the donations which make a vital difference. And I must give hearty thanks to my wife Becky, because if it wasnt for the fact that shes had a real job for eight years none of this would be possible.
Campaigns And Events
CAFCA does not have a long track record of being a political lobbyist. Primarily, because it has not been our style, and because, as a Christchurch-based group, we are away from the Parliamentary circus. However, seeing some scope for progress with the Alliance in Government and the Greens in Parliament, we have devoted more attention to lobbying since the 1999 election. Bill has done a lot of work with the Greens, specifically Rod Donald, which resulted in the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee (on which Rod sits) voting to ask the Auditor-General to conduct a performance review of the Overseas Investment Commission. Rod has done a lot of work on the OIC, using our years of research and expertise on that subject its worth mentioning in passing that, because the Greens pressured the OIC to get a free supply of the latters monthly decisions sent to them electronically, we now get the same service (for years we had paid for a hard copy service). Rod has publicly promoted the need for a Corporate Code of Responsibilty, based on the one drawn up by CAFCA. Because Bill was away in Australia (on a work trip), I ended up doing my first ever phone submission to a Parliamentary Select Committee on Keith Lockes International Treaties Bill and had the unalloyed pleasure of speaking to the likes of John Luxton and Max Bradford, who asked the age old questions", such as: "How many members have you got? Are you opposed to everything foreign?".
Bill has put in an enormous effort on the Hong Kong Agreement, and some of that has involved lobbying politicians, both in Christchurch and Wellington. Just recently he and I spent 90 minutes meeting with Alliance MP, Kevin Campbell, on the subject. And we work with the activist grassroots of political parties both of us spoke to the national conference of Staunch, the Alliance youth group. Bill ran a workshop at the Alliances national conference, in late 2000, and was recently a featured speaker at a public meeting organised by the Democrats. This year we have done two mailouts to Alliance branches around the country, and picked up a few as members. For the first time ever, I spoke to a local Labour Party branch a few months ago the odd one or two didnt take too kindly to criticism of Clark and Cullen, but the majority were receptive. And obviously our work bears fruit, behind the scenes the country has just witnessed the brave stand of Paul Swains electorate chairman, who publicly attacked his own Government and Labour Party re globalisation in very strong terms, citing Bill, Jane Kelsey, ARENA et al as his inspiration (hes now the ex-chairman. Ed.).
CAFCA is independent of all parties, we endorse none, and you wont find much about elections or party politics in Watchdog (the issue goes on, regardless of whos in office) but we recognise the significance of a Labour/Alliance government, plus the Greens, and the opportunity to get the most sympathetic politicians (I exclude Labours leadership from that) to focus on the issue of foreign control. As a lobby group, its the least we can do. And its well worth it.
We have devoted some attention to unions this year. I have spoken at a seminar of senior delegates of the National Distribution Union, and to a monthly Lyttelton stopwork meeting of the Seafarers Union (which has recently become a generous donor to the Organiser Account, which provides my income). We continue to build links with the trade union movement when I was in Wellington, in April, I set foot in the CTU building for the first time ever and was invited to join unionists (including Ross Wilson, CTU head) for drinks in a local pub. Bill has been working away on globalisation and the Hong Kong Agreement within the union movement, both in Christchurch and Wellington. We have recently done a mailout to unions, inviting them to join (we do already have some unions as members). We have publicly backed the Rail and Maritime Transport unions Take Back The Track campaign, offering our help the fact that Tranz Rail keeps winning the Roger Award makes our message popular among railway workers. I attend the annual International Workers Memorial Day, to commemorate workers (specifically rail and port workers) killed on the job, and have spoken at it more than once.
GATT Watchdog was responsible for the 2000 Roger Award. The event was held in Wellington, the first time its been held outside Christchurch. I went up to it, to represent the organisers, and what a great night it was tremendous music and entertainment, excellently organised by Jim Delahunty and Corpwatch, with a crowd of up to 150 to take part in the fun. Moving it to the capital didnt get it any better media coverage, and we are basically resigned to the transnational corporate media ignoring it. As promised in my previous annual Report, we did review the Award, and decided to continue with it. CAFCA is responsible for the 2001 Award and its going really well were getting the biggest number of nominations ever (a lot of work with the grassroots of political parties has paid off, and both the Greens and Alliance now distribute nomination forms and publicise it, as do a number of other groups); weve got the judges and, touch wood, havent had the hassles that have arisen in earlier years (theres not a huge pool of prominent New Zealanders willing to publicly attack the corporate system). Were moving the event again, to Auckland this time, hosted by our friends in the Water Pressure Group. Its time the Roger made its debut in the citadel of corporate New Zealand.
Our other major campaign, over the past couple of years, has been the call for the seizure of Suharto family and crony assets in New Zealand, as our contribution to the peoples of Indonesia and East Timor. Its not a new call, weve been making it for years. The difference is that now were actually being listened to, its regarded as an idea whose time has come, and it gets good coverage in the mainstream media. Along with our colleagues in the Auckland-based Indonesia Human Rights Committee, we have been plugging away at this since last year. Things are definitely happening behind the scenes, but thats way beyond our control. It continues to be the only issue on which the media routinely comes to us, and we continue to get a good run out of it. When Indonesias former President Wahid came to Christchurch, my phone ran hot with reporters wanting to know about "the protest" (about which we knew nothing), but I took the opportunity to reiterate that Suharto assets should be on the agenda of his meeting with Helen Clark (Clark has since advised that they werent. Ed). By working with Green MP, Keith Locke, and using Parliamentary Questions, we were able to put the issue of the Suharto ownership of Lilybank resort back into the national media. That story has got a long way to run yet. But the ascension to power of President Megawati Sukarnoputri, backed by the military and the old Suharto regime, will put the dampeners on much happening from the Indonesian end for the foreseeable future.
So much of our work is done in conjunction with other groups (such as on the whole free trade and globalisation area) that its becoming increasingly harder to differentiate where our campaigns begin and theirs end. Effectively it means that we have a bigger pool of people and expertise to work with. And networking continues to be our priority. This year we decided to devote some attention to other local groups of the Left (who have all, at one time or another, given CAFCA a hard time for various ideological reasons). But we can agree on more than we disagree, so its productive. Bill and I have been invited to speak to the anarchists national conference, in October; building this coalition to oppose the WTO, in November, has enabled us to work with a whole raft of political activists, who (thank God) are decades younger than us.
All this was on top of our usual CAFCA work, which is itself on top of humdrum administrative work. Our fortnightly committee meetings always go until after 11 (and weve streamlined them, they used to be longer). My fellow committee members - Bill Rosenberg, Dennis Small, John Ring, Reg Duder and Ray Scott - all work very hard. Liz Griffiths continues to do the thankless but absolutely vital job of bookkeeping. And, remember, Im the only one who gets paid. There is one issue that we will need to confront our committee (all male) is middle aged or elderly. Two are in their 70s; only one is younger than 50. This raises questions of health and energy levels this is tiring work when youre young and fit, let alone old and buggered. We need some young legs, some fresh blood on the committee. To put it in rugby terms, we need some impact players to come on.
2002 is, of course, election year. In the 1993 and 99 election years, CAFCA sent me round the country on speaking tours, to raise the issue of foreign control. We plan to do the same next year. At this stage we cant tell you any details at all when, where, for how long, and what Ill be talking about have all to be worked out. But rest assured that well keep you fully informed (see the letter enclosed with this Watchdog. Ed.).
Our other major responsibility (that we know about, as yet) is that its our turn to organise the Roger Award again. As Ive outlined, weve already received a record number of nominations (with more than a month to go before they close); weve found excellent quality judges; and the event itself will be held in Auckland, for the first time. The Suharto assets campaign will continue, albeit with a lower profile. Weve taken it as far as we can, now its up to the politicians, in both New Zealand and Indonesia. We will continue to lobby selected politicians and parties, and we will continue to work with the grassroots of those parties, because that is where the real progress is made. In fact, as 2002 is election year, we will probably do more of this than usual.
We will continue to be an integral part of GATT Watchdog, and fight all the various manifestations of globalisation, be they the Hong Kong free trade agreement, a new WTO Round (which is our top priority in the next couple of months), or proposals that we become a state of Australia or or the US. "Globalisation" (ie imperialism) goes to the heart of our reason for being. We started as an anti-imperialist organisation, and after more than 25 years of turbulent existence, we remain one today.
The future offers us more of the same. Governments come and go but the reality is that TNCs control the economy, so this is not a problem that will solved through Parliamentary means. It needs grassroots organisations to educate and mobilise people to take back what has been stolen from us. That is the role of CAFCA. And we're more necessary than ever, because our issue is centre stage. Nor is it only a single issue as it permeates all aspects of people's daily lives. So there's no shortage of things to be done. The only problem is prioritising them. We intend to continue giving it our all, and we know that we can count on your continued active support. Morale is high, tempered with realism. We know what we're up against. But the bigger they are, the harder they fall.
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