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RAM elects co-leaders and candidates

RAM - Residents Action Movement

Media release 3 September 2008

RAM elects co-leaders and candidates, runs People's Procession to Parliament

The Residents Action Movement, better known as RAM, today elected Oliver Woods and Grant Brookes as co-leaders of their candidates group.

Mr Woods, a 20-year-old university graduate in politics, was formerly deputy chair of the Labour Party's electorate committee in Epsom. Several weeks ago he was elected co-chair of the Student Representation Committee at Auckland University for 2009. Mr Woods, who speaks Spanish and Mandarin, is standing for RAM in the Auckland Central electorate.

"I'm a social justice advocate," said Mr Woods. "Last year, I chaired public meetings during RAM's Voices of Peace campaign which put a stop to hate attacks on New Zealand's peaceful Muslims. Now I'm promoting RAM's campaign to axe the unjust GST tax from food."

Mr Brookes, a 40-year-old university graduate in science and nursing, is a nurse at Wellington Hospital. He is the hospital's national delegate for the NZ Nurses Organisation, representing 1,500 health workers on the union's National Delegates Committee. Mr Brookes is RAM's candidate for the Wellington Central electorate.

"I've spent 15 years campaigning for the grassroots," said Mr Brookes. "That's why I'm organising the Wellington leg of the People's Procession to Parliament, a two-week journey through North Island centres with RAM's GST-off-food petition."

The People's Procession starts on 20 September in Kaitaia and finishes on 3 October at Parliament. Here the GST-off-food petition will be handed over to MP's from the Maori Party, the only party in the current parliament which supports the removal of tax from food.

So far, the GST-off-food petition has been signed by 20,000 Kiwis.

"I expect that number to rise considerably during the People's Procession to Parliament," said Grant Morgan, the procession's national organiser, who is also RAM chair. "RAM's campaign to remove GST from food is hugely popular at the grassroots. So many people were queuing to sign the petition outside supermarkets that I was asked by a TV journalist if RAM was holding food demonstrations."

"RAM isn't just another electoral party. We are a people's movement which constantly campaigns around issues like GST off food while we also stand in elections. At our petition stalls, thousands of people have told RAM that they are worried about prices outstripping their income. They also say they're sick of being treated as invisible by Labour and National. Both these parties look after the rich. That's why we call them the LabNats," said Mr Morgan.

RAM first arose in Greater Auckland as an organiser of the Rates Revolt against the regional council's massive home rate hikes in 2003. In the five years since its birth, RAM has campaigned for free and frequent public transport, for solidarity with low-paid workers  and against hate attacks on New Zealand Muslims. RAM won 100,000 votes in Greater Auckland's 2007 council elections.

In March 2008, RAM decided to go nationwide and to stand for Parliament as well as councils. In the six months since then, RAM has gained 3,000 members in the country's fastest political recruitment drive.

Today RAM elected a list ticket of 26 candidates for the 2008 General Election. Eleven of them are also standing for electorate seats in Whangarei, Auckland, Rotorua and Wellington.


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