Tag Archive for "Drinking Liberally"

Drinking Liberally – Andrew Little

Another Thursday, another Drinking Liberally at the Southern Cross. Tonight’s guest was Andrew Little who manages to be President of both the EPMU and the Labour Party at the same time.

He talked generally about the situation the world is in and suggested that it means the end of the finance-centric ideologies of the last 20-30 years. Instead we now had a chance to start talking about social justice, about providing useful and productive work, and generally recasting our politics and economy in a way that serves the people and not the corporations. There weren’t a lot of details about what that might mean.

Then it came to time to questions – and what interested me was that about half of them (including mine) were some version of “That left wing agenda sounds fine but it doesn’t sound like the Labour Party we’ve had for the last nine (or 25) years, how are you going to get it accepted by them, let alone the general populace?”

Unfortunately I thought he did a very poor job of answering it. First he said that he thought they were already there, secondly that the Labour Party was internally democratic, and finally that they had to follow and be led by general opinion (as different from lead and inspire!). In other words, he didn’t see the same gap between his rhetoric and the current Labour Party that a number of people in the room saw. And bear in mind that the Drinking Liberally crowd is generally pretty pro-Labour!

Speaking as someone who thinks we need Labour to reinvent and repackage itself it was kind of disheartening – and pushes me further towards the Greens.

P.S. I think we’re done on section 92a as a topic. Thanks.

Drinking Liberally – Grant Robertson

Went to Drinking Liberally again last night, this time to hear Grant Robertson (Labour MP for Wellington) speak about the public service. It was a pretty standard defence of the worth of the public service and some of the major points included:

– no one quite agrees how to define it (should it include local government, should it include police and nurses, etc)
– that you can choose statistics from the past that prove that it hasn’t been growing per capita
– that it’s silly to try and divide them into “good” frontline staff and “bad” backroom staff, as they’re all needed to provide the functions that we want from government
– that the National government want to permanently reduce the public service
– that the National government has put the kibosh on pay equity reviews
– that privatisation of public services is bad

I was amused to see how keen he was to say that it’s not just a Wellington thing with, if I remember correctly, only 40% of “core public service staff” employed in Wellington.

All in all I thought the session was a tad boring. I generally agreed with most of it and didn’t really find it that informative. There was also an interesting contrast in style between the opinionated but not partisan Brian Easton and the very obviously partisan Grant Robertson.

While there I also had a chat to Mr Holloway about good old section 92a. In particular, we were talking about what he thinks it is possible to achieve within the current legal and cultural framework (i.e. ignoring the whole ‘copyright is obsolete/immoral/stupid’ argument). His position is that we need to find an acceptable way to help enforce copyright or else we’ll get another unacceptable way like section 92a.

If I understand him correctly, he seems to be arguing for changing the role of the Copyright Tribunal (yep, I didn’t know we had one either, apparently they very occasionally mediate disputes about licensing schemes) to have some sort of jurisdiction over copyright/piracy disputes. He further thinks that the desirable outcome would be where copyright infringers should have to pay fines rather than having their internet disconnected.

I agree with the idea that fines are a more appropriate punishment but I’m not sure about trying to repurpose the Copyright Tribunal in this way, especially as I didn’t get a chance to ask as to how he would see this working.