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Blackball Mayday

Palmerston North Community Services Council

Last weekend saw people from across the country from a very wide range of backgrounds and activities converge on Blackball, to meet in the Formerly Blackball Hilton, for the annual Mayday Gathering.

Blackball is particularly significant because it was the birthplace of the NZ Labour Party.

The common dimension of all those present was that they are very concerned about our society, where it has been taken and where it is still being led.

A range of speakers talked about:
- how the local police did not respond seriously to what, elsewhere, or in another setting would have been an armed offenders callout
- how a Cabinet Minister and a senior "public servant" applied pressure to a
newspaper editor to try and silence a reporter who wrote a story they didn't like in an unrelated association magazine
- how a very competent MP was targeted by fabricated, unsubstantiatable stories from within government
- how departmental officials block and manipulate agenda items on a Board agenda
- How the next stage of the privatisation of the public health system is being piloted on the West Coast.
- how there is a culture of denial and arrogance rife within local and central government.
- the new "purposes" of local government, the promotion of social, economic, cultural and environmental well-being, are a big step forward.

There need to be mechanisms to make Councils accountable for their performance with respect to these. There is a campaign to undermine the Bill.

The over-riding concern expressed was about the impact of corporations on our society and the negative impacts of the establishment of a corporate culture right across our society.

It was resolved to develop support networks to challenge the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers, MPs, prospective MPs, and Party leaders, as well as each other, as to whether they, and we, are community centred or corporate model centred, particularly in the lead up to the election.

The gathering was not all serious. There was a lot of humour and singing interspersed among the serious discussions. That's the combination that makes Mayday in Blackball something special.

Ian Ritchie
Executive Officer

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