Laila Harré - It is time to Rethink the System

Interviewed by Tim LynchApril 1, 2015
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After the last election Laila Harré felt not only beaten, but the need to withdraw and not actively participate in the political system. So her psychology lecturer sister Niki Harré, (author of “Psychology for a Better World”) picked her up and suggested they went on a pilgrimage - walking and hitchhiking around North Island, carrying no money, presenting in different centres and listening to feedback from the community. They created a tour that went from February 1st to the 28th 2015 in 27 different centres.

They donated their living costs to grassroots social change and community groups, to ensure their tour stayed outside the current system of economic exchange.

Their intent was to encourage discussion on the topic of ‘rethinking the system’, because the road that New Zealand is travelling down right now, shows we need some radical change.

What a wonderful thing to do!

Laila tells us of the way they presented and got people talking. Niki defined the way we spend most of our time and resources as Finite Games and Infinite Games.

Many values that we hold are not serving the system and so we should rethink some of the Finite Games so that they serve the Infinite ones – Infinite Games being things like family, compassion, and love. For an explanation of this listen to the interview!

I asked Laila what were the main things that concerned the people that came to their meetings. The world’s vulnerable money system came up in every centre. How can our system of exchange benefit social justice and environmental protection?

Some more alternative thinking, often described as conspiracy theories, also came up. This clearly shows the need for the main stream media to present the truth to us and not a watered down version, or hide the truth from the people. Once the truth is hidden, all sorts of stories, both true and false, abound. University science, and progressive economic thinking is not reaching us for lack of reporting.

Laila disputes that there is a small group of the elite who are controlling the world, and says clearly that, “The people who are controlling the world are the people OF the world, most of whom are not taking an active step in taking control.”

Another issue that came up was that our democratic system is failing us. People are not engaging with the political system. Why else would one million eligible voters stay at home on election day. The way our politicians behave, and the way that parliament works is a major problem. If we want to find ways to be more democratic then we need to find ways to build consensus, and in an adversarial system that is not really possible.

Laila explains that it is much easier to find consensus about what we want in the future than it is to agree on the problems and issues that have occurred in the past. Therefore the way forward needs to be through visualising a shared future.

There is a strong commonality of deep human values and to move forward successfully we need to recognise them and ensure that our social systems and institutions address those values.

The vision is, after all, in the hearts of the people.

Laila Harré BA, LLB Auckland, New Zealand – Laila Harré has had a long career in industrial relations and policy making. She completed degrees in Law and Political Studies in 1987 and after an internship with a Geneva based NGO in 1988 she worked as a mediation officer at the NZ Human Rights Commission, as an adviser to the NZ Minister for Disarmament and then for several years as a trade union lawyer.

In 1996 Laila went into Parliament as an Alliance MP and she served as a cabinet minister in the 1999-2002 Labour-Alliance coalition government. She was Minister for Women’s Affairs, Youth Affairs and Statistics and Associate Minister of Labour and Commerce. In Parliament she led a successful campaign for the introduction of paid parental leave and championed many other labour causes.

Since 2002 Laila has held senior roles in the trade union movement – in the New Zealand Nurses Organisation and then as National Secretary of the private sector National Distribution Union. In 2009 and 2010 she worked for the Auckland Transition Agency, established to oversee the merger of all the local authorities in Auckland into the largest local authority in Australasia, the Auckland Council. She was responsible for all matters concerning the employment of local government staff and for establishing the new council’s HR department.

As an ILO specialist based in Suva 2010-2012 Laila worked with governments, employer and worker organisations in the eight Pacific ILO-member countries to plan and implement programmes to address their decent work priorities. Areas of focus included, in various countries, labour law reform, frameworks for minimum wages and collective bargaining, social security policy, the strengthening of worker and employer organisations, and the promotion of employment as a priority in national planning.

She returned to New Zealand in May 2012 where she works as Issues Director for the Green Party, the third largest party in the New Zealand Parliament. She undertakes occasional work on labour issues within the South Pacific.

She was the first leader of the Internet Party, and stood for Parliament in the 2014 general election through the Helensville electorate.

Now she has opened a fresh sea food restaurant named Ika Sea Food Bar and Grill, where the emphasis is on sharing sustainable sea and land food at the people’s prices.

This programme is sponsored by The Awareness Party

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Tim Lynch

Tim Lynch, is a New Zealander, who is fortunate in that he has whakapapa, or a bloodline that connects him to the Aotearoan Maori. He has been involved as an activist for over 40 years - within the ecological, educational, holistic, metaphysical, spiritual & nuclear free movements. He sees the urgency of the full spectrum challenges that are coming to meet us, and is putting his whole life into being an advocate for todays and tomorrows children. 'To Mobilise Consciousness.'

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