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ACC Back Down On Jail - But Still Want Ike's Signs

ACC Back Down On Jail - But Still Want Ike's Signs Down!

WPG MEDIA BACKGROUNDER 31 JANUARY 2003

First, the Auckland City Council spend thousands of dollars of ratepayers money taking Ike Finau to Court to get an 'Order of the Committal' for his arrest and imprisonment, for not removing signs on his property and vehicle. Now they are going to spend thousands of dollars of ratepayers money to go back to Court, to get a 'stay' (ie: stop) that 'Order of Committal'!

It's like watching a very expensive, rate-payer sponsored, game of tennis! Spending thousands of dollars of our money to violate our human rights!

The Council have backed off from their threat of arrest and imprisonment. That, in itself is a significant victory for ordinary people, and shows what you can achieve if you stick to your principles and 'fight for your corner'!

The following email was sent from the Auckland City Council 31 January 2003:

"Yesterday, a memorandum of counsel was filed before Auckland District Court judge Roderick Joyce, QC, supporting an application to stay the order of committal made by the court on 18 December 2002 against Ekenasio Finau.

Judge Joyce ruled the matter will be determined in open court on 20 February 2003.

Whilst in terms of the court's earlier order Mr Finau remains in breach due to the continued presence of illegal signage at his property, it was considered:

* The signs presently on display, whilst still constituting visual pollution, are muted in comparison to those signs previously displayed.

* Mr Finau, in public statements of his own and/or through those of his supporters, appears to be using the prospect of his committal as an opportunity to cast himself as a "martyr" of free speech, rather than as an individual who has displayed ongoing contempt for court orders. This is considered an unintended and inappropriate outcome for the exercise of the committal process.

* There has been an increasing focus questioning the utility of the exercise of a committal warrant, in that it will not solve the underlying problem with Mr Finau and/or his support group, and given the present nature of the signage, would appear a disproportionate and unnecessary remedy.

However, there remains an intention to explore further alternative enforcement procedures for the signs' removal.

Whilst these legal steps are in train, and since the committal stay application is still before the court, no further comment is envisaged.

Note that the papers filed in court yesterday were also concurrently served on Mr Finau, and the total position as outlined herein was relayed to the media yesterday evening.

It should also be noted the poll results of Auckland City residents' views on the signs bylaw and its enforcement were also released yesterday evening. The poll was conducted so a current appreciation of our residents' thinking on such matters, and how they want their neighbourhoods to look, is maintained. The poll was thus similar to other polls, for example, on liquor licensing bans, Britomart, other currently profiled transport issues.

Paul Sonderer DIRECTOR CUSTOMER SERVICES AUCKLAND CITY"

"When injustice becomes law - resistance becomes duty!"

That is the motto of the Water Pressure Group (Auckland), and Ike Finau has shown what a staunch and principled stand can achieve.

However, the Auckland City Council still want Ike to take down his signs.

So, they want to use other enforcement methods. Really. Well, they played their 'trump' card - the big threat of arrest and imprisonment and Ike just ripped up their 'joker' and threw it back in their face - so what next?

A Court order for the Auckland City Council to remove the signs themselves? A bit like putting a fire out by throwing petrol on it, don't you think?

There is a really simple solution to this problem. It is political - not legal.

The elected representatives - the Councillors - should ensure that all legal proceedings over signage on private property are dropped forthwith, and the Bylaw that has caused all the controversy is reviewed, and amended as a matter of urgency, according to the procedure that is outlined under the Local Government Act 2002.

Why it takes the unpaid community volunteers to alert those with the fat salaries, to the legislation which covers their statutory duties and with which they are supposed to be familiar, is truly quite beyond me.

If we ordinary people can familiarise ourselves with the provisions of the Local Government Act 2002 - why can't Auckland City Council Officials and Councillors?

Under the Local government Act 2002, passed in December last year, under the 'Procedure for making bylaws:

155 (3) "No bylaw may be made which is inconsistent with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, notwithstanding section 4 of that Act."

(It is interesting to note that all other parties, except Labour, supported this amendment, which probably wouldn't have been passed, had it not been for the 'Ike Finau signs case'.)

Under section 'Review of bylaws section 158:

"(1) A local authority must review its bylaws in accordance with this section.

(2) Bylaws continued by section 293 must be reviewed within 5 years after the date of commencement of this section, unless they cease to have effect before a review would otherwise required.

(3) Bylaws made under this Act (other than those continued by section 293) must be reviewed within 5 years after the date on which they are made.

159 Procedure for and nature of review

The review of a bylaw under section 158 must take the form of a reconsideration of the matters set out in section 155, using the special consultative procedure set out in section 83."

Under the special consultative procedure, the public are supposed to have a chance to have a say.

How have Auckland City Council officials handled it? They have conducted their own 'patsy' 'Auckland City neighbourhood signage public opinion poll.'

The questions and responses are listed below.

"30 January 2003

Auckland City neighbourhood signage public opinion poll

These results are based on a survey conducted on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 January, 2003. The survey is of 226 residents of Auckland City. The results have been weighted to be representative of the Auckland population. The maximum margin of error for any figure is 7%.

INTRODUCTION "Hello, my name is _________ calling on behalf of the Auckland City Council." "We're doing a 5-minute survey on issues that affect people who live in Auckland City. Have you got time to help with this now?"

(If not, ask if they are interested and, if so, make a time to call back otherwise thank them for their time)

Q1. Current Auckland City Council bylaws allow people to put small signs on their residential property to advertise their own businesses. Do you agree with this?

Code one answer only

Yes 1 82% No 2 12% Don't know 9 6%

Q2. These bylaws also allow people to put larger signs on their residential property for the purposes of selling it. Do you agree with this?

Code one answer only Yes 1 82% No 2 14% Don't know 9 4%

Q3. Some people say they should be allowed to put up any sign they want. Others say that if this is allowed Auckland will become less attractive with signs all over the neighbourhood. What are your thoughts on this issue? Record verbatim comments below

Once they have finished, interpret what they have said and record their answer below. Code one answer only

Generally in support of any signs 1 28% Generally neutral 2 42% Generally against any signs 3 26% Other 4 2% Don't know 9 1%

Q4. Would you support a bylaw change so that people could put any sign of any size they wish on their residential property? Code one answer only

Yes 1 12% No 2 83% Don't know 9 5%

Q5. If the court instructs someone to take down an illegal sign, should they take it down? Code one answer only

Yes 1 90% No 2 5% Don't know 9 5%

Q6. If the court tells someone to take down an illegal sign, how long should the court wait before taking further action?

Do not read, but code their answer. If they do not give a specific answer at first, ask them to give a length of time

Immediately 1 12% 1 to 7 days 2 45% 8 to 29 days 3 29% 1 to 3 months 4 10% 4 to 6 months 5 0% 7 to 12 months 6 0% 13 to 18 months 7 0% Over 18 months 8 0% Never 9 1%

***DON'T READ*** Refused 10 2%

Q7. If a person was told to take down an illegal sign by the court and refused for almost a year they could face jail for their contempt of court. If you were in the position where you had to take the sign down or go to jail, what would you do?

Code one answer only

Take the sign down 1 85% Go to jail 2 3% Something else 3 8% Don't know can't answer the question 9 4%"

_____________________________________________

What evidence has the Auckland City Council got to prove beyond all doubt that the Bylaw is in fact legal, when neither the Attorney-General or Governor-General have confirmed that the Bylaw is consistent with or complies with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948,or the Bill of Rights Act 1990? ___________________________________________________ __ Missing questions include:

1) "Are you aware that the Governor General has not given this Bylaw the Royal Assent after she has been requested to do so?"

2) "Are you aware of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article on freedom of expression, which states: “Article 19 Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

3) "Are you aware of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990

14. Freedom of expression

---Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, includingthe freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form.” 4) Are you aware that ACC Consolidated Bylaw 1998, 27.5.1 which says:

"Subject to clauses 27.5.4 and 27.5.5, signage in residential zones shall be limited to a single externally facing sign for each road frontage, advertising a lawful use of the site, located on the site to which the use occurs and advertising only products or services available on the site.” and the subsequent rulings of Judge Joyce which enforce this Bylaw represent a total prohibition on signage on private residential property as a means of expressing an opinion on any matter?

Do you agree that a total prohibition on a particular form of expression of opinion, ie: signage, is a 'justifiable limitation' in a 'democracy' such as New Zealand?

5) Do you think that Westmere resident Ike Finau should be threatened with arrest and imprisonment for refusing to take down signs on his property which say:

"GE Free Zone" "God Save the Queen" "Defend Democracy - in solidarity with Ike Finau.."

and signs on his van that say

"LOYAL" with a black 'silver fern' to display support for Team NZ?

"Do you think that it is fair that Auckland City Council should have a bylaw which represents a total prohibition on signage on private property in a residential area, when Manukau City, Waitakere City and North Shore City Councils have no such bylaws?

6) "Are you aware that Auckland City has a bylaw 27.1.8.1, which allows election signs on private property for an unlimited time period, that election signs are not defined under the bylaw and there is no stated limit on the number of election signs on private property? Do you agree that signs exposing politicians who have failed to keep their promises, are in fact a form of election sign?

7) "Some people say that politicians lies are a social 'pollutant', and that signs telling the truth about politicians telling lies are 'beautiful'. Do you agree?

8) "It has been suggested that it may have been one of the politicians named in Ike finau's signs that made the complaint to have the signs taken down. It has been suggested that it is in the public interest to know who made the complaint in order to make sure that it was not politically motivated in order to bring about political censorship. Do you agree?"

-------------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------- ---

If the Auckland City Council want the views of citizens on neighbourhood signage, then why don't they do it properly, under the special consultative procedure outlined in the Local Government Act 2002, as required when a Bylaw is reviewed, and give all those who wish to 'have a say' a proper opportunity?

This is surely the 'commonsense' way of dealing with this issue.

Is it only ordinary people, we 'common folk' who have the 'commonsense'? __________________________________________________

If you want to help Ike Finau and defend freedom of expression

1) Put a sign up on your own fence.

(More black on yellow "Defend Democracy - in solidarity with Ike Finau" signs are available from "Rupatation" 103 Wellington St (under the 'Bushell' sign) for $5.00 each (to cover printing costs)

"NZ LOYAL" signs with a silver fern (which can be transformed with a big red $ or X, as is your right,if you don't support the America$ Cup) are also available for $5.00 each.

PUTTING A SIGN ON YOUR OWN FENCE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING THAT YOU CAN DO!

The Auckland City Council polled 226 people. Whoopdy do! When we have 2,226 people with signs on their fences - it's going to make them look pretty damn silly.

2) Put "Attend Auckland District Court, Albert St,Thursday 20 February 2003, 9.30am" in your diary.

It's going to be a milestone day in NZ human rights history. Dress code 'tidy'! (So most of us won't recognise each other) This is the day Just Joyce will hear the application from the Auckland City Council to 'stay' Ike Finau's "Order of Committal." `A show not to be missed!

3) Submission to the Auckland City Council to review and the amend the offending Bylaw forthwith, to urgently review all Auckland City Bylaws and practices to ensure that they are fully consistent and comply with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the NZ Bill of Rights Act 1990. etc. If you agree with the submission, please just email back to me the following statement that will act as an authorisation to use it without having to download, sign and send it.

"I__(Name)____________, of _______(Address)____, support the "Proforma Submission to Auckland City Council re: Human Rights produced by the Auckland Water Pressure Group.

PROFORMA SUBMISSION TO AUCKLAND CITY COUNCIL RE: HUMAN RIGHTS

I believe that the Auckland City Council Consolidated Bylaw 1998 Part 27.5.1 which states:

“Subject to (provisions about signs on or outside dairies) signage in residential zones shall be limited to a single externally facing sign for each road frontage, advertising a lawful use of the site, located on the site to which the use occurs and advertising only products or services available on the site.”

is in clear breach of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 (The Covenant) which states:

“Article 19

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” And The New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, which states:

“14. Freedom of expression

---Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form.”

I believe that a total prohibition on signage as a form of expressing an opinion on private property is not a ‘justifiable limitation’ in a supposed democracy like New Zealand.

I therefore call on the Auckland City Council to amend the offending Bylaw forthwith, and to urgently review all Auckland City Council Bylaws and practices to ensure that they are fully consistent, and comply with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 and the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.

Because the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 is not consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human rights 1948, I call on the Auckland City Council to give all forms of practical support to help implement the recommendation of the United Nations Human Rights Committee in their ‘Concluding Observations of the Human Rights Committee :New Zealand”(07/08/2002)

That “the State Party (New Zealand) should take appropriate measures to implement all the Covenant Rights in domestic law and to ensure that every victim of a violation of Covenant rights has a remedy in accordance with Article 2 of the Covenant.” That human rights legislation has over riding legal status in the New Zealand legal system. That earlier legislation which is inconsistent with the Covenant is repealed.

That copies of this submission are passed on by the Auckland City Council to the NZ Attorney-General, Margaret Wilson, and the NZ Chief Human Rights Commissioner, Rosslyn Noonan.

NAME:…………………………………………………… ……… ………………………………..

ADDRESS:……………………………………………… ……… ………………………………...

SIGNED:………………………………………………… …… DATE:………………………….

I agree to my name going on to the Water Pressure Group data base to receive more information. Please circle YES NO

EMAIL ADDRESS:……………………………………………. PHONE:………………………

(Produced by the Auckland Water Pressure Group PO Box 19764 Avondale Auckland Ph 846 9825) ___________________________________________________ __ ____

(Phew!)

Penny Bright Media Spokesperson Water Pressure Group (Auckland) Ph (09) 846 9825

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