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Political activism with no mandate at Upper Hutt Council


Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce

Media Statement
Thursday 25 February 2016

Political activism with no mandate at Upper Hutt City Council

On Wednesday 24 February 2016 at meeting of full council, a majority of Upper Hutt City Councillors voted to declare Upper Hutt City a "TPP Free Zone". This was in point 7 of an 8 point resolution adopted by council. “No one spoke against the Council adopting what we see as essentially an anti-TPP resolution said Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce & Industry Chief Executive Mark Futter”.

The Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce & Industry is a strong supporter of democracy and the rights of citizens to express their views, and we respect the right of the TPP opponents to protest against the TPP, however from a business stand point do not agree with the Councils views in this case. We are stunned that one of our city councils has adopted a purely political stance against a central government trade agreement that the Chamber sees as being a crucially important deal for a small, remotely located country that is dependent upon trade and a City that is home to numerous exporters.

The Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce & Industry is very concerned that Upper Hutt City Council has declared itself a 'TPP Free Zone' for a number of reasons:

Upper Hutt City Council has essentially engaged in political activism with no mandate from ratepayers and the business community. This is in stark contrast to the amalgamation debate - where a clear anti-amalgamation mandate was given by ratepayers through an extensive consultation process that asked the opinions of ratepayers with regards to amalgamation. Upper Hutt City Council has made no attempt to engage the wider city or key stakeholders in this debate, particularly the exporting business community, before adopting this purely political stance.

By adopting a resolution declaring that Upper Hutt City be a 'TPP Free Zone', no consideration has been given with regards to the implications or potential backlash against its exporting businesses - who are working hard to build trade relationships internationally. This political stance may potentially hinder both the current and future trading relationships of exporters in Upper Hutt.

Mr Futter says that this purely political stance may be perceived to imply that Upper Hutt is an independent zone that ignores the binding decisions of Central Government.

Futter said, “This decision could undermine opportunities for future business investment, particularly foreign investment into Upper Hutt, as Upper Hutt may be perceived to be seen as a non-business friendly city, with an activist anti-trade Council that makes controversial decisions on a whim”.

Essentially, Upper Hutt City Councillors have implied that they are prepared to allow the City to be hijacked by a small group of highly active, vocal and motivated protesters who have a clear political agenda, without giving concern to the views of the wider city nor the implications to all its ratepayers and business community.

Futter says, “that engagement in this kind of political activism will be to the detriment of the economic development of Upper Hutt City”. Obviously Council has a number of elected officials that have no interest in being re-elected by their community later this year. Decisions like this will potentially add fuel to the debate of Governance and Leadership capability at a local level Vs some form of streamlined amalgamation.

Ends


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