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Auck City Councillor says APEC - "Never Again"

Auckland City Council - Opinion

This week's column is written by Hobson Ward Councillor, Jon Olsen

Never again! Never again should the City of Sails be conned into hosting a political showcase such as APEC. And conned we were! Think (we were told) of the publicity, the crammed hotels, the restaurants and stores jammed with high-spending delegates, journalists and their spouses, partners, side-kicks, whatever. Never mind a few traffic jams and a little inconvenience - stay at home and watch it on TV. Well, they were wrong, because stay at home we did.

So even the gridlock did not eventuate - quite the contrary - from that point of view, we could wish APEC here permanently. But at what cost to the heart of our city. The CBD was a ghost town from Friday night to Monday night, with some improvement on Tuesday.

Four days and nights when our long-suffering inner city businesses (day and night) once again wondered what had hit them. And the hotels were not even full.

As the inevitable priggish leaders took petulant offence and stayed away at the very last moment together with their extensive retinues of obsequious sycophants. (Will they be charged a booking or security fee?) Even the fringe city motels were empty, as tourists were warned don't come to Auckland, it's APEC time.

And the publicity. Well, we have read some of that already. The deserted CBD has obviously not impressed the APEC media as even ugly cities such as Jakarta have an ambience due to their hustle and bustle.

The indirect costs are incalculable, but the City Council did spend significant sums including removing inner city rubbish bins and then replacing them!

Despite Mayor Fletcher's success in demanding some funds from an extremely reluctant government (which should be spent on CBD promotion which I will strongly advocate) you, the ratepayers have had to cough up again.

In future, a conference of this magnitude must be held in a locality designed for such an event ie, a resort or resort town, such as Rotorua, Taupo or Queenstown.

And what about the rights of Auckland citizens to object to the hosting of leaders who are committing 'crimes against humanity' as stated by UN Secretary General Annan.

Do we feel comfortable having these people in our own city, getting the red carpet treatment at our expense, while in their own countries, thousands die or are repressed? What would we think of a city that welcomed Hitler or Stalin in their times to an ' economic ' summit, and only ' economics ' could be on the agenda.

Auckland City Council must say 'never again'!

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