Joris de Bres

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Joris de Bres


Joris de Bres is a long time Marxist activist. He formrly served as New Zealand's Race Relations Commissioner.

Background

Joris de Bres was born in Holland in 1947, the son of Pieter de Bres. He arrived in New Zealand in 1954.

Student activism

In 1965-68, while attending Auckland University, Joris, also known as "George", was active in the Student Christian Movement , and he also persued many left- wing causes, including protesting against the Vietnam War; the aparthied system in South Africa; the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service ; nuclear power; racism and so on.[1] In 1969, de Bres wrote an article for the Auckland University students newspaper called Craccum (Number 1) about a Melbourne anti-conscription march. He was also a contributing editor to that publication.

Steeped in left-wing academia

In 1969-70, de Bres attended the Free University of West Berlin, where he studied Marx, Lenin, Engels, Marcuse, Rosa Luxemburg, Frantz Fanon, and Modern German writers of the revolutionary left.[2]

Support for industrial action in Oxford

In 1970-72, de Bres, while attending Oxford University in the U.K.,went on strike marches with the dusties in Oxford. He also joined a power workers picket at Didcot Power Station.

Editing and distributing left-wing books

It was around 1970-72 that de Bres translated left-wing books for New Left Books, Pluto Press and Penguin.[3] Also in the early 1970's, he became New Zealand distributor for English and American left-wing books. In the early 1970's de Bres met Angela Crisp in the U.K. They were later to wed in 1977. In April 1973, he became an editor, along with Angela Crisp, of the Publication New Zealand Left Books Review, published by Project Books for the Book Project, Auckland, and printed at Resistance Auckland.

Attendance of left-wing assembly in Paris

In February 1972, de Bres attended, along with Geoff Bertram, the World Assembly for Peace and the Independence of the Indo-Chinese People held in Paris.

He represented the New Zealand Committee On Vietnam ,and gave up studies for a post-graduate degree.[4] While he was in attendance, he gave a letter of solidarity to Quong Ming, ambassador of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam. [5]

Dominant figure in the students union

In 1972, de Bres, while in the U.K., was made Honorary Vice President of the New Zealand University Students Association. Also, when de Bres was back in New Zealand in 1973, he was the International Research Officer for the NZUSA. [6]

Involvement with CARE

In the early 1970's in New Zealand, and certainly in 1973, de Bres became the full time secretary for the Coalition For Racial Equality. In 1974, he was described as the Auckland contact for CARE in the Soviet aligned Socialist Unity Party newspaper Tribune.[7] By June 10, 1974, de Bres was still the secretary of CARE.[8] Later in 1974, he was elected Vice President of CARE at the organisation's AGM on November 30.[9]

Planned Sharpeville demonstration

In 1973, the Trotskyist Socialist Action League newspaper, Socialist Action, noted that de Bres was an Auckland sponsor of a planned anti-Apartheid Sharpeville demonstration.[10]

Assisting in production of radical newspaper

In 1973, de Bres was among those listed on page 2, as having helped produce Issue Number 1 of The Paper incorporating Halt All Racist Tours News. This was described as an "Independant Radical Newspaper". However, on July 13 1973, Keith Locke was to write in Socialist Action, that "...the people involved are a group of expelled members of the Communist Party of New Zealand around Rona Bailey and some younger and more recent Maoist converts".[11] George Fyson in 1974, in an article in Socialist Action, described TP as "...lowest common denominator politics".[12] In 1975, Russell Johnson wrote an article for the Socialist Action League newspaper Socialist Action entitled "Maoists discuss dumping The Paper . TP was founded 18 months ago by "Wellington adherants of Stalin and Mao."[13] Terry Auld, who was assistant editor of TP, expressed his hope, in an article then circulating around Wellington, that TP would form the nucleus for a Marxist-Leninist party. Russell Johnson was to name Trevor Richards of Halt All Racist Tours, and de Bres of the Coalition for Racial Equality as TP supporters.

Activism in education

In June 1973, a New Zealand University Students Association article noted that de Bres attended a National Assessment and Accreditation Council conference at Victoria University.[14] In 1974, he was involved in organising homework studies on Mondays and called for students and teachers to become involved.[15] In 1996, de Bres was chairman of the board of Wellington East Girl's School,where his twin daughters Julia and Helena became school duxes.

Protest at overthrow of leftist Chilean regime

In October 1973, de Bres was joint organiser of a march from the Auckland Town Hall to the Central Post Operations building protesting the Chilean coup which saw the overthrow of the marxist regime of Salvador Allende.

Involvement in illegal overstayer issues

From 1974-77, de Bres was involved in Pacific Islander and illegal overstayer issues. In 1976, he wrote, along with veteran leftist Rob Campbell, an article on this issue called "The Overstayers".This was reviewed in the Tribune by Socialist Unity Party member Len Reid. [16]

Writing for Tribune

In 1974, the Soviet aligned Socialist Unity Party's newspaper the Tribune specially requested de Bres to contribute an article on apartheid.[17]

Union essay

In 1974, de Bres was one of a number of essayists who each contributed an essay on unionism under the collective title "An Injury to All".This was reviewed by Russell Johnson in the Trotskyist newspaper Socialist Action. Some of the other contributors to this were:

Involvement with left-wing aid agency

In August, 1975, de Bres spoke as a representative of the left-wing New Zealand aid agency CORSO at a public meeting at Auckland's YMCA stadium to discuss the plight of plantation workers in Sri Lanka.

Curious Confusion with CARE and CORSO

In 1975, the New Zealand Truth, carried an article about CORSO, and its curious involvement with de Bres. It read as follows:"CORSO: Back to its Left Swing. Radical left-wing politics appear to have caught up with CORSO again. Propaganda from the leftist Revolutionary Front for Independence of East Timor - Fretilin - has been distributed in Auckland on cyclostyled paper bearing CORSO's name and letterhead. CORSO's area organiser and CARE spokesman Joris de Bres put out the statement, which comprises a political tirade purporting to come from Jose Ramos Horta, Fretilin's secretary-general, in East Timor. He appeals to New Zealanders and Australians for 'all possible aid' and lists drugs, medical supplies, doctors, clothes and food. CORSO officials say they know nothing about the Fretilin appeal. The statement says donations marked 'East Timor' should be sent to CARE at its Auckland box number, as well as to CORSO." De Bres said CARE had been concerned with the situation in East Timor for some time, supported Fretilin and were in touch with its representatives in Australia and New Zealand.[18]

In 1976, de Bres was one of a number of signatories within CORSO to a petition initiated by the Socialist Action League calling for a public enquiry into the CIA and the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service in New Zealand.[19]

Editor of Tonga Newsletter

In 1978, de Bres was editor of the Tonga Newsletter, put out by the Resource Centre for World Development.

Involvement with unions

Member of Public Services Association

In April, 1985, de Bres was a member of the PSA Auckland staff. He worked with PSA's field staff members.[20]

Also, in that year, de Bres was the Auckland regional secretary of the PSA.[21] By 1987, he was still secretary of the PSA,in Auckland and assisted the Task Force on Trade Union Education in preparing their second report. In 1988-89, he was the Assistant General Secretary of the industrial section of the PSA. Also, in 1989, he was interviewed by the Tribune about the PSA wage round and also the fight for protection for the low paid.[22] In November 1991, de Bres remained Assistant General Secretary of the PSA. He had overall responsibility for the implementation of the national industrial strategies and headed a special Industrial Strategy unit. In that same year, he was Central Operations Manager of the PSA. He was also a member of a group of PSA officials and Public Sector employers on a taskforce on productivity. The others on this group were:

In 1992, de Bres produced a booklet which was launched that year by Bill Birch and Ken Douglas.[23] In that same year, the Press reported that de Bres was still the PSA's central operations manager. In this article, he Stated that a meeting of PSA officials did not rule out the PSA taking industrial action to settle employment contracts.[24]

Other union activities

On October 14, 1986, de Bres addressed a meeting of 1000 delegates at the Auckland Trades Council. In that same year, he was the Combined State Unions Auckland Regional Committee Secretary. [25]

Involvement with electoral reform

In 1992, de Bres was a signatory to the Electoral Reform Commission sponsored advertisement in The Evening Post, promoting Mixed Member Proportional Representation known as MMP.[26]

Involvement with the Department of Conservation

In 1993, de Bres joined the Department of Conservation as its Public Awareness Manager. He held this position until 1997. As General Manager of External Relations- a position he held from 1997-2001, he was responsible for the Department's relationships with government, international conservation organisations, sector groups and the community. Key elements of the job included negotiating Treaty of Waitangi settlements, negotiating corporate sponsorships, and raising public awareness of conservation issues.

Involvement with Oxfam

In 2002, de Bres was spokesman for the international aid agency Oxfam. He had also become a member of the Board of Trustees of Oxfam New Zealand. Other members of this board were:

Race Relations Commissioner

In 2002, de Bres became New Zealand's Race Relations Commissioner.

Involvement with Australian environmentalism

In 2002, de Bres became a member of the standing committees for the Australian Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council and the Australian Environment Protection and Heritage Ministerial Council.

References

  1. ROTU page 5
  2. ROTU page 5
  3. ROTU page 5
  4. ROTU page 5
  5. Salient number 7
  6. Socialist Action March 16 1973
  7. Tribune March 20 1974
  8. Tribune June 10 1974
  9. Tribune December 9 1974
  10. Socialist Action March 21 1973
  11. Socialist Action July 13 1973
  12. Socialist Action April 26 1974
  13. Socialist Action February 14 1975 page 6
  14. Canta 1973 Number 15
  15. Tribune March 20 1974
  16. Tribune 148 november 15 1976
  17. Tribune June 10 1974
  18. New Zealand Truth October 21 1975
  19. Socialist Action Number 25 June 1976
  20. PSA Journal April 1985
  21. PSA Journal April 1985
  22. Tribune December 11 1989
  23. PSA Journal April 1992
  24. Press July 25 1992
  25. PSA Journal April 1985
  26. Evening Post September 9 1992