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ARC councillors subordinate legal duties

RAM media release 16.9.04

ARC councillors subordinate legal duties to corporate road agenda

By law, the Auckland Regional Council is responsible for promoting public transport across the region.

"But three sitting ARC councillors, Michael Barnett, Bill Burrill and Craig Little, are pushing for motorways before public transport. That's clear from their views published in today's NZ Herald supplement Catch Up Auckland. Their pro-motorway views are at odds with their legal obligation to promote public transport," said Grant Morgan, spokesperson for RAM - Residents Action Movement.

"The RAM Executive calls for Mr Barnett, Mr Burrill and Mr Little to be voted out of office since we believe they are subordinating their legal duties as ARC councillors to the self-serving agenda of the corporate road lobby," said Grant Morgan.

Mr Barnett, in his capacity as CEO of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, co-signed the supplement's front page editorial which sees a "ring road network" as the region's top transport priority.

"All overseas transport studies show that motorways grow cars. London, for instance, is grinding to a halt under its ring road network. Such a discredited, tired, self-defeating objective would represent a giant leap backwards for Auckland. Yet that's all the corporate road lobby, in alliance with client councillors, can offer us in their propaganda," said Grant Morgan.

The Catch Up Auckland supplement was issued by the Auckland Business Forum, a front for corporate lobbyists like the Employers & Manufacturers Association, Chamber of Commerce, Ports of Auckland, Road Transport Forum and Automobile Association.

"The Business Forum's supplement was a bare-knuckle bid to pressure ARC candidates by a series of biased questions. This blatant corporate interference in the democratic process is condemned by the RAM Executive," reported Grant Morgan.

"A fortnight ago, the RAM Executive sent an Open Letter to the Business Forum saying we wouldn't take part in their survey because it was 'a propaganda and pressure tool of big business'. We exampled the survey's refusal to even mention buses. Yet overseas experience shows that introducing thousands of buses is the quickest and cheapest way of ending gridlock."

"RAM challenged the Business Forum to publish our Open Letter alongside their survey results. But they were too scared to do so. The Business Forum is running away from free debate because they know public opinion is turning against their motorway mania," said Grant Morgan.

"Three years ago, during the last council elections, the corporate road lobby pushed for motorways alone. Today, however, their supplement had to give public transport a minor role in a bid to gain public sympathy for grossly inflated motorway spending. The corporate road lobby is clearly feeling besieged and defensive."

The Business Forum's supplement said that only two electoral tickets have "the potential for block voting on the ARC". One is RAM, they said, and the other is a pro-motorway alliance of Advancing Auckland and Auckland Citizens & Ratepayers Now.

"It's significant that the corporate road lobby must admit that RAM is the only possible regional alternative to the right-wingers in Advancing Auckland and Auckland Citizens & Ratepayers Now. Their own polling shows that RAM is ahead in public opinion stakes, so they're worried," said Grant Morgan.

RAM is standing 8 candidates in the ARC election across the North Shore, Auckland, Manukau and Franklin-Papakura.

"For the first time, a grassroots ticket looks likely to beat the corporate politicians who've been running the ARC for many years. A RAM-led ARC will create a Citizen's ARC based on transport sanity, open democracy and rates justice," said Grant Morgan.

ENDS

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