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Consensus is the way forward for Auckland

July 30, 2004

Consensus is the way forward for Auckland

“People are turning away from participation in the democratic process because of a sense that it makes no difference,” said Christine Fletcher, on the occasion of a book launch in Auckland today.

Fletcher is among the contributors, along with former political colleagues such as David Lange and Winston Peters, to a book promoting citizen participation in the New Zealand democratic process.

“There is a perception that if you vote, you are buying into a dishonest system,” commented Fletcher. “It’s only a generation or two ago that politicians were respected and were expected to ‘serve the community’. Now, we have obvious cronyism and significant disrespect for the political process as a result.”

She said that such cronyism damages the credibility of the political institutions themselves.

“People are especially cynical toward political parties, in particular at local government level. That’s the reason I choose to stand as an independent,” said Fletcher. “The Mayor of Auckland needs to be able to unite the city across increasingly wide fault lines which have developed under the Banks administration," she said.

“We need a consensus on the way forward for Auckland, and you can’t achieve consensus by bullying people.

“I’m totally committed to changing people’s perception of Auckland City so that they know they can be heard, that their views will be given their proper weight. Real democracy means that each person’s vote counts. Political opponents dismiss this kind of political accountability. I say it’s an absolute requirement for a committed and serious politician,” she said.

“Only 43 per cent of Aucklanders voted in the last Auckland City Council election. I believe a critical component of encouraging participation in the democratic process is to strengthen the role of Community Boards,” Fletcher said.

“As part of my commitment to the democratic process I will reinstate the Complaints Office at Auckland City which was dumped by John Banks. This office was an important avenue for citizens to have their voice heard. It listened to their issues and investigated them as appropriate.”

Chris Fletcher believes that there are issues of great public importance to Auckland City residents which could be best addressed by a binding referendum.

“I challenge John Banks to put the Eastern Motorway to a referendum. It’s clear he is not listening to what the public are asking for on this issue. When the true costs and benefits of the proposed motorway are weighed against the benefits of a world-class public transport system at significantly lower cost, I have no doubt whatsoever what the public of Auckland will choose.”


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