Many of us made submissions on the Future for Local Government Review earlier this year - thank you to all who did so. During the process, some submitters expressed their unease about the Review’s "Transparency and Moderation Statement", which warned of an intention to exclude any submissions it deemed "racist," "discriminatory," or "insulting" from being published. Once the Review was finished the Free Speech Union OIA'ed them for any redacted submissions, reporting that their (and our) worst fears were realised. Nearly 10% of unique submissions were moderated and excluded because they were deemed to violate the moderation policy. Definitions like ‘offensive language’, ‘offends cultural values’, 'insulting’, ‘misinformation’, and ‘accusations towards groups’ were used to exclude submissions. Tellingly, all found unacceptable were opposed to the recommendations of the Review, particularly around the issue of co-governance.
Censoring the public’s voices in this way is very concerning. As the Free Speech Union spokesperson Jonathan Ayling wrote in a media release:
“The Review made many claims regarding the need to trust the public in democratic participation, but they clearly seem willing to put their own fingers on the scales when this participation doesn’t go their way.
Kiwis voices must be heard, and their role in our democracy respected. Government entities are increasingly willing to suppress the public's voice in democratic processes. This is of major concern and fundamentally undermines the purpose of public consultations.”
Another example of the right to free speech being trashed concerns Julian Batchelor’s STOP CO GOVERNANCE meetings being held throughout the country. Most of these meetings are being met with hostile protesters, who have a right to protest, but not to interfere or infringe in any way other people's right to free speech. But this is what is happening - protestors are blocking entrances using intimidatory - and at times violent - tactics to shut down these meetings. Watch these videos taken outside Stop Co-governance meetings Palmerston North on 22nd July HERE, and Hastings July 24 HERE, for typical examples of ‘thug’s veto’ behaviour.
Despite Julian working closely with police and taking their advice, police action in response has been very patchy around the country. In some areas it has been great but in others it has been unbelievably weak, resulting in some meetings having to be abandoned, and meeting attendees being harassed and even manhandled by the protestors. Mob rule reigns!
We can do our bit by sending complaints to the Police Complaints Authority [email protected], and the Minister of Police, Ginny Andersen [email protected] The freedom to express our opinions is essential to democracy - demand that the police uphold the rule of law and the right to free speech.
To keep up to date with developments on the STOP CO GOVERNANCE tour, sign up for their daily blog HERE.
Before their time runs out ....
the Government is taking every opportunity to implement further racialised ‘partnership’ arrangements, one of the latest being introduced under the National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity. In doing so, they are following the plan as set out in the controversial He Puapua Report - this despite protestations by the Government that it is simply a report and not government policy. (Was that a pig I saw flying by!!) You can read more about this below at: ‘The co-governance juggernaut rolls on’.
At the same time as affected landowners are coping with further restrictions on what they can do on their land under the Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity, some are also faced with Councils’ ‘heavy handed’ handling of proposed Sites and Areas of Significance to Māori (SASM). Stuff reports on cases in the Timaru District, where up to 100% of private land holdings have been designated as SASM in a notified plan. Such designations can restrict activities. Affected landowners must go cap (and wallet) in hand to iwi every time they want to do anything that requires resource consent. See Stuff article ‘Long-time farming families object to council's handling of Māori designations’.
Any day now we can expect the highly criticised RMA replacement legislation to be passed into law. This has largely flown under the radar - there has been very little coverage in the mainstream media, and certainly no in-depth analysis by the media. It is up to us to inform all and sundry about the pitfalls inherent in this legislation. You can read more about this issue below at: ‘Update on the Resource Management replacement legislation’
Hooray for the Taxpayers' Union!
We have just received the exciting news that the Taxpayers' Union has commissioned a group of experts in local government, economics, infrastructure, and legal drafting, to come up with an alternative bill to Labour's Three Waters legislation. They have been working on this these past eight months. One of the primary reasons for doing so is an effort to stop the march of undemocratic co-governance throughout central and local government.
The resulting document - the Local Water Infrastructure Bill, dubbed 'The People's Bill' - would maintain local accountability and community control, respect property rights and ensure efficient delivery of water services. Read more about this on the Taxpayers' Union website HERE.
Calling all Aucklanders
Auckland Council is asking for public feedback on the proposal to introduce Māori wards. The Independent Māori Statutory Board, which was established as an alternative to Māori wards, is one of the main drivers for Māori seats on the council. David Taipari, the chair of the IMSB, suggests that both Māori seats and the Board coexist.
Consultation will run from August 21 until September 24. You can read more about this, including the avenues already specifically available for Maori be be involved in decision-making below at: ‘Aucklanders' views to be sought on Māori wards’.
Public Notice - upcoming debate series hosted by the Free Speech Union
The NZ Free Speech Union is organising a debate series that may be of interest to you. Attendance will be open to the public and free. These debates will be broadcast on live TV as well as on the Free Speech Union's online platforms, and both the live and online audiences will be invited to participate via public polls. Polling will be conducted before and after each debate, and the winners of the debate will not be those with the strongest support but those who changed the most minds.
One event that may be of particular interest is Debate 3: “be it resolved; ‘one person, one vote’ silences indigenous voices and must go”.
Venue: Hamilton, Wintec, The Atrium
Date: Wednesday, 13 September - 7 pm - 8:30 pm
Speakers: Casey Costello & Shane Jones vs Buddy Mikaere & Meng Foon
Moderator: Ward Kamo
Spaces at these events are limited. Find out more about each event and reserve your spot HERE.
Recently there has been a spate of interesting and thoughtful commentaries from various people – thankfully showing that the country has not gone completely bonkers! We are posting what we consider the best of these on the Democracy Action Facebook page – please check this out regularly, ‘like’ any posts that appeal to you, and share with others who may also be interested. For those who don’t subscribe to Facebook, we have a sample list of interesting commentaries below at ‘Further news, views, opinions………’
Other recommended reading - The two latest editions of eLocal online magazine feature articles submitted by Democracy Action. You can read the article ‘What on Earth is co-governance?’ in the July edition HERE, and ‘Sweeping changes to resource management law underway’ HERE.
To keep up to date with democracy issues facing New Zealand, please remember to regularly check-out the Democracy Action Facebook page, where we post opinion pieces and new items as they come to hand.
Thank you for your continued interest and support. If you have any suggestions you would like to offer, or if you need further information or help, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected]
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