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PM gags another important voice

Pansy Wong National MP

9 February 2001

PM gags another important voice

It is disgusting Peter Townsend, chief executive of Canterbury's Chamber of Commerce, has been shut out of today's business forum in Christchurch. This glaring omission is just another example of Helen Clark gagging those she perceives to be potential threats, National MP Pansy Wong said today.

"Mr Townsend spoke last year at the National Party annual conference in Christchurch, in the capacity as local Chamber chief executive. That was obviously enough for the Prime Minister to rule out his participation today, with fear that he might make useful suggestions or dare to criticise the Government.

"If such business forums are to be of any real success, key local business leaders must be included. Personally, I believe Mr Townsend would have made a significant and positive contribution to today's forum.

"Consistently, he has been a strong advocate for Canterbury's economic well-being. Last year he hosted bi-monthly cross-party regional meetings which most Canterbury's MPs attended. The focus was not negative but rather looked at economic opportunities in the region.

"In 15 short months Helen Clark has silenced dozens of critics and even those just perceived to be potential threats, such as Mr Townsend.

"It's interesting to note that Auckland's Chamber chief executive, Michael Barnett was invited to last year's Auckland business forum. Today's omission is a slap in the face for Canterbury," Pansy Wong said.


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