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Water Issues in Waitakere: CAP Public Meeting

Water Issues in Waitakere: CAP Public Meeting and Defamation Case

PUBLIC STATEMENT

A lively public meeting was held at Kelston Community Centre on Thursday evening 17th July at which Waitakere City Councillors Hulse, Yates and Presland attempted to explain to CAP members and supporters why council is deferring a long promised review of water funding under the Long Term Council and Community Plan. Their attendance was the result of a peaceful and good-humoured occupation of Council premises by CAP protesters the preceding Wednesday 9th July (see Attachment 1). In West Weekly's account of this event, Mayor Bob Harvey was reported to have likened the protesters to "terrorists" (see Attachment 2). Upon taking legal advice CAP considers this remark defamatory, and unless Mr Harvey publicly retracts it we are prepared to sue.

CAP called the meeting because despite over 1500 submissions calling for their abolition (not to mention 14000 since 1997), WCC has reneged on its undertaking to review the regressive user-pays charges for water and opted instead to include the review in a wider comprehensive assessment of water services that need not be completed before 2006.

Mered Barrar, CAP's spokesperson, says, "We are aware of Council's obligations under the new Local Government Act, but every option for water funding has already been thoroughly investigated through the focus-group that has met over the last twelve months. Changes need to be made before the next local-body election. The thousands of submitters will expect no less. The council are blatantly trying to shelve their decision until after the next election. A new schedule has to be adopted without delay, otherwise direct action and boycotts will be resumed."

The three councillors present echoed the earlier committment of Mayor Harvey and Deputy Mayor Caroline Stone to re-look at the 2005-2006 schedule for the funding review.

Considering the undemocratic interference by council officers in the publicity for it (see Resolution 2 below, and Attachment 2), the meeting was better attended than the organisers anticipated. The first of the three following resolutions was adopted with only one dissenting vote; the others unanimously. CAP is lodging a complaint with the Auditor General regarding this interference alluded to in the second resolution..

Resolution.

That this meeting calls on WCC to honour its commitment to review the water funding system without further delay. If this review does not take place within a period of months rather than years we resolve to resume the community boycott of user charges until such time as the undertaking is fulfilled.

Resolution.

The meeting condemns WCC's blatant attempt to deny CAP their right to freedom of expression by removing hoardings advertising this meeting. This action is a shameful attempt to pervert the democratic process.


Resolution.

This meeting condemns utterly Mayor Harvey's reported comment where he likened a non-violent occupation to "terrorist" behaviour. His comment defames not only the CAP protesters but all other activists through history who have resorted to direct action when democracy has been denied. The list would include Te Whiti, Ghandi, the suffragettes, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela to name but a few. It is unforgivable that he should capitalise on the anxiety engendered by real terrorists post 9/11 to stigmatise genuine protesters and divert attention from the legitimacy of their complaint.

Citizens Against Privatisation Unit 3, 14 Roberts' Rd, Te Atatu Sth. ph (09) 8366 389. e-mail capwaitakere@xtra.co.nz

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