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Greens join fight against WCC Public Places bylaw

1 April, 2004

Greens join fight against WCC Public Places bylaw

The Green Party today warned that the civil rights of Wellington residents are under threat from the City Council's proposed Public Places bylaw, and said it would be initiating a number of legal and political means to stop it.

Nandor Tanczos, the Green Justice spokesperson, said he believed that the proposed by-laws breach the Local Government Act and the Bill of Rights, by threatening freedom of expression and freedom of association.

Submissions to the bylaw, which would require council permission for public gatherings, street performances, the distribution of leaflets and postering around the city, close this Monday (April 5) at 4pm.

"The council will have a fight on its hands if it tries to pass this draconian bylaw," said Nandor. "The council's vision for a 'creative capital' is pretty blurred if they think they should control all public forms of expression.

"Wellingtonians' famous appreciation for street theatre and grassroots political activism is in danger of being stifled by a sterilised corporate façade carefully maintained by council bureaucrats.

"With this bylaw, the Council is also giving itself the power to stifle street opposition to its own policies. It will make it just about impossible for community groups to get political.

"When taking on corporate and government planet-eaters the only tools that ordinary people have are creativity and public forms of media. These bylaws will restrict their ability to do that."

Nandor said the Greens find the Wellington City Council's reasoning for the bylaw unconvincing and he would be making an Official Information Request for the legal advice relied on for the policy.

"The Local Government Act requires new by-laws to comply with the Bill of Rights. The WCC's claim that the by-laws would be seen by a court as a reasonable restriction of those guaranteed freedoms is derisory. I am very keen to see what legal opinion they relied on for that interpretation.

"We have a few other tricks up our sleeve, but that will be the first step in supporting the widespread public opposition to this policy.

"All Wellingtonians should take this threat to their fundamental human rights seriously and voice their opposition to the proposed bylaw by making a submission. The Council must be given no option but to withdraw it from their agenda, as with last year's homeless bylaw," said Nandor.


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