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Election Candidate Subject to Discriminatory Law

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Workers Party candidate for Christchurch East, Paul Hopkinson, may be forced to step aside as a candidate due to a discriminatory clause in the 1993 Electoral Act.

Because Paul Hopkinson is a school teacher in a state school, he is subject to a clause which could require him to take unpaid leave for the duration of the election campaign.

“This clause is onerous and discriminatory because it prevents people from participating fully in the electoral process,” he said. [More]

Links: Workers Party | Election blurb for Paul Hopkinson

Dispatches from Day 5 - Operation 8 Depositions Hearing

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Outside of court the week ended with a bang. One of the kids turned six and so over lunch there was a birthday party outside courtroom 8. We had a cake, candles and party hats. The registrar (he who pronounces Tame to rhyme with 'same') muttered that there was no dignity in this court room. I'd say there was a lot of dignity in that court room - but not the sort the registrar would recognise.

As Friday was the last day of the week, and all the evidence is still suppressed, I thought I'd take some time to point out how much work goes into making it possible for all 18 defendants their whanau and supporters to come to court. [More]

Wellington Tramways Union rejects Go Wellington Pay offer and elects union exec

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At Wednesday’s stopwork meeting The Wellington Tramways Union rejected Go Wellington’s latest inadequate pay offer and elected the a new union executive.

According to company figures drivers in Wellington had their annual income reduced by 19% in 2007 as a result of shift changes desired to restrict access to penal rates. The companies current pay offer stands at only 6.2% and in addition the company wish to introduce a draconian complaints procedure for drivers. This offer was rejected by 208 votes to 23 and drivers also voted to take limited industrial action if the company didn’t come up with an improved offer.

The stopwork meeting also elected a new executive for the Wellington Tramways who represent drivers at Go Wellington, Valley Flyer in the Hutt Valley and Mana Newlands buses out in Porirua and the Kapiti Coast. [More]

Dispatches from Court Day 4 - Operation 8 Depositions Hearing

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The Crown Prosecutor is called Mr Burns. I think I would take more pleasure in this, if he was balder and had a long thin nose. He’s more smarmy, for some reason he reminds me of Grant Robertson (the labour candidate for Wellington central), even though there’s no much of a physical resemblance, and I’ve never met grant Robertson.

Anyway, today Mr Burns gave his opening address. I can’t report on most of what he said, because it related to suppressed evidence. But he did explain the crown argument on the nature of group possession. [More]

Double 8 Means Double Opportunities

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The Auckland District Courtroom 8 hearings vis-à-vis Operation 8 proceeded apace through the fourth day. After the protracted reading of the charges in both English and Maori—generously permitted by the judge—the Crown Prosecutor took the stage with his opening overview.

Given the judge’s suppression order, only two reporters were in attendance. However, the near-full complement of legal representatives for the defendants was present, along with two registrars, two translators and between 6-10 defendants throughout the day. [More]

Dispatches from court day 3 - Operation 8 Depositions Hearing

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The charges against the last four defendants were read on Wednesday morning, and only took a few hours.

The first good news of a day was that the crown agreed to a variation of bail that the crown agreed to. For the duration of the hearing, the defendants don’t need to report to the police station and they will be able to associate during the trial.

All of which is just common sense, as defedents are seeing each other every day in court, but it is a victory nonetheless. The non-association orders are causing real pain and hardship for the defendants some of whom are friends, whanau and comrades. Even for those that didn’t know each other the order is making it very difficult to organise their defence. That the crown is willing to drop the non-association orders for a month demonstrates that the orders are in fact there to punish the defendants. Under the Bail Act the only justifications for bail conditions are to ensure that defendants attend court, to prevent them tampering with evidence or witnesses and to prevent offending while on bail. If the defendents associate in September without it resulting in an 18 person crime spree, then it seems ridiculous for the crown to argue that the non-association orders must continue to prevent offending while on bail. [More]

Dispatches from Day 2 - Operation 8 Depositions Hearing

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One of the things I didn’t explain properly yesterday was why the charges take so long to read. The charges are almost all jointly possessing firearms, between certain dates. On some dates each defendant who is charged on that date is charged with possessing the same half dozen firearms. Each time a charge is read the names of all the people who are being co-charged are listed. So the same list of names is repeated over and over again, in some cases over 100 times (and then again in Te Reo).

The only court business that happened on Tuesday was the reading of 7 more people’s charges. Four of those charges were also read in Te Reo Maori. By the end of the day the names, dates, and legalese had all slipped together into a strange drone, both in English and in Maori. There was some suggestion that the 24 year old Swiss Musician might want his charges read in his language, and people suggested his language was Swedish, Spanish and German (If they were going to be read in his language, it would be Swiss German, but they were just read in English). [More]

Courtroom 8 Hosts Operation 8 Hearings

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Fittingly, the Operation 8 hearings were scheduled for courtroom 8 in Auckland’s District Court. This was home to the initial pre-bail hearings before the Solicitor General in November 2007 over-ruled the use of the Terrorism Suppression Act against the original Urewera 17, which became 16, which then morphed into 19 and then 20 before falling back to the 18 named in these Auckland proceedings. [More]

Iranian socialist: "Capitalism is causing these wars"

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Sorab Taleth, a leading activist in the Iranian Workers Left Unity current and a prominent figure in the British-based Hands off the People of Iran (HOPI) campaign, was recently interviewed by Philip Ferguson of the Workers Party. The interview is featured in the September issue of the Workers Party paper, The Spark. Taleth speaks about the vicious repression of opposition activists and workers by Iran's brutal right-wing theocratic regime as well as the threat posed by US imperialism to the Iranian people. [Full text of interview]

Dispatches from Day 1 - Operation 8 Depositions Hearing

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The court room we were assigned to had four rows of seats with six seats on each side. Theoretically forty eight people could fit in the court. But the third row of seats had restricted tape across them, as if it had been the scene of the crime, and signs say ‘No Seating’. We gradually sat down, leaving the mysterious third row behind. But then the moustached security guard, who is clearly a regular for Operation 8, came over. He explained that the judge had said that the first two rows were reserved for defendents, and the judge had ordered one row be kept clear. So the public were limited to the last row, and the police were already taking up half of that row, which left six seats for everyone who had come up. [More]