Waatea News: Can the activist left work constructively with new Government?


It’s not only the new Labour led Government who are finding the transition from opposition into power a difficult one to traverse, many activist groups seem to be struggling with how to engage constructively beyond mere opposition.

How do activist protest groups constructively engage in the decision making process now a new Labour led Government are in power? For the last 9 years, many have simply banged their heads against the National Government with very little to show for their efforts and it seems that some are still in that mindset.

Last week, Peace Action Auckland and Peace Action Wellington stormed into the offices of Grant Robertson and Jacinda Ardern to protest what they saw as the lack of action by the new Government on the Manus Island refugee crisis. By every objective account, the offer Jacinda has made and the pressure she has put Australia under in the media is unprecedented, yet here we have protests attacking the new Government.

It seems to sum up an existential problem all activist groups are struggling to get their heads around. With open doors into the new Government, the time to influence policy rather than protest it is crucial if Jacindat is to live up to all our hopes.

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That isn’t to say some aren’t adapting. Anti-TPPA Professor Jane Kelsey is leading the way in opposing policy while stressing constructive engagement in the process and Greenpeace have also managed to get the right balance by criticising new seismic oil exploration without attacking the Government.

After almost a decade of counter productive policy, these activist groups and their voices are more important in providing the solutions than ever before and with a new progressive Government in power, these activist groups have got to decide if working with the new Government can achieve more than protesting against it.

Child Poverty Action Group, The Salvation Army, Amnesty International, People Against Prisons Aotearoa, Just Speak, Not Our Future, Greenpeace, ActionStation, Auckland Action Against Poverty, Peace Action Auckland and Peace Action Wellington all have valuable contributions to make towards a better New Zealand. If radicals argue Jacinda isn’t a valid leader for that change, I’d suggest they’ve set their thresholds for change so high that nothing short of a violent revolution with the reincarnation of a hybrid Karl Marx, Che Guevara and Joan of Arc would be considered sufficient for them.

Working for change creates more opportunities for progress than sulking because you can’t get 100% of what you want.

It’s time to choose, constructive engagement and building public support for that progressive change or another 3 years of banging heads against the system and going no where.


First published on Waatea News



  1. This is class war Martyn. If the new Coalition claims to represent all those who need big changes against the NACTs who want deny them those changes, it is necessary for the activist left to push the Coalition as far as it will go.

    Only then will it be obvious to the majority who are still hung up on parliament that that road is a dead end.

    Its up to the Coalition to deliver on its promises, stop back pedaling when under pressure from the right, inside and outside their parties, and to deliver, or to face the consequences.

    Those will not be some ‘violent’ hybrid revolution drawing on Marx, Che and Joan of Arc, but a mass movement of the oppressed rising up to defend itself from the violence of capitalism thrashing about on its death bed as it destroys the planet.

    Whatever it takes to inspire the masses to rise up is OK by me because the violence of the human condition is entirely down to naked Kaputalism. All is fair in the name of love and class war. Hurting the feelings of liberals and social democrats who think they have a monopoly on class peace is no consequence.


    • This isn’t a linear straight line to the results eh. To become initiated. You must learn the rulz behind the rulz. And every one should know by now that business run this country. Just ask Dave Macphersons and his successful campaign against Bob Simcock. This isn’t so much running commentary it’s like, come on guys, get with the progressive program.

    • It is up to the new government to try and work ‘constructively’ with its voters and supporters, I think, not the other way around.

  2. I dispute that Ardern’s offer was unprecedented.
    – The 150-per-year deal was originally made by the National government in exchange for Australia’s help to lock up any asylum seekers coming to NZ. The offer hasn’t changed since then.
    – Groups working in the refugee area say we can accommodate all 700 from Manus.
    – Ardern’s criticism of the Australian government’s inhumane and cruel treatment of asylum seekers has been muted since taking office.
    – Ardern has continued to rule out speaking directly to Papua New Guinea to arrange the transfer of refugees to NZ.
    – Ardern has refused to criticise PNG for attacking the refugees with iron bars.

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