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Protestors OK, But Banners Out

When the Auckland City Council reconvenes on Wednesday, March 13 at 6pm, members of the public will be welcome – but without their banners and placards.
The meeting will be held in the larger reception lounge on the second floor of the Town Hall.

Last week’s meeting was postponed because of interruption from protestors with placards, which Mayor John Banks says posed a safety issue.

“I don’t have a problem with people exercising their democratic right to protest,” said Mr Banks, “but large placards and banners have the potential to be used as weapons or instruments of obstruction.”

He says there was no option but to call off the meeting when nearly 100 protestors crowded into the council chamber and disrupted proceedings. Fire regulations dictate that the chamber hold only 60 in total – i.e. 20 per exit (the chamber has three doors).

Under a standing order, the person chairing any meeting can ask people to leave if their behaviour is likely to prejudice the “orderly conduct of that meeting”. If they refuse, the chairperson can have them removed.

Mr Banks says, “it’s not just about those rules and regulations. The democratic process demands that everybody is treated fairly. I’m thinking about the silent majority – the ratepayers whose rates inevitably will go up if this council doesn’t sort out its finances.”

Mr Banks says the recommendations that the council are considering are about paying off the “mortgage” before making large investments in “badly needed areas like roading and transport.”

“If we don’t take these tough decisions we will continually be outshone in the economic development stakes by areas like Southland – as we were last year.

“I’m going to make sure that we have money to invest in a transport system that works. We’re going to move Auckland forward and make sure we have the infrastructure the city desperately needs.”

Mr Banks says the council will be taking measures to ensure people attending conform to acceptable standards of behaviour.

"Those who do not will have to leave. It is unfair to citizens who have a right to attend to have protesters disrupting the democratic process."


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