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Keep Our Port Public Campaign docks in Dunedin

Keep Our Port Public Media Release


Keep Our Port Public Campaign docks in Dunedin

The campaign to "Keep Our Port Public" has come to Dunedin.

The inaugural meeting of the Otago branch of Keep Our Port Public is to be held on Friday 12 May, 12 noon - 1pm at the Green Party Rooms, 40 Lower Stuart Street, Dunedin.

Speakers will be Metiria Turei (Green MP) and Victor Billot (Maritime Union of New Zealand).

Spokesperson Victor Billot says the meeting will be looking at the successful campaign to stop the sell off of the Port of Lyttelton and the role of the Port of Otago – and what this means for the future of New Zealand ports under new free trade deals.

"The issue is often portrayed as wheeling and dealing by big companies. But the underlying and important issue is not about ports beating each other, it's about ports being operated in the public interest, in a responsible way, and that's what our campaign is about."

He says the involvement of Port Otago in purchasing an interest in the Lyttelton Port Company has created strong interest in the issue nationally.

Mr Billot says the campaign will become a national one if there are any more moves to privatize ports.

"Publicly owned ports provide an excellent income to the citizens of New Zealand – which is why they are such a juicy target for the 'pirate privatizers' who want to gain control."

Keep Our Port Public was formed in Christchurch in February 2006 after the business arm of the Christchurch City Council attempted to push forward a complex deal that would have seen the operational arm of the port of Lyttelton pass into majority ownership of Hong Kong based multinational port operator Hutchison.

The deal is currently stalled after Port Otago purchased a block of shares in Lyttelton Port Company and Hutchison withdrew.

Keep Our Port Public (KOPP) has so far been highly successful with a large public meeting held in April 2006 in Christchurch, a petition to the Christchurch City Council that closes on 1 June, regular local meetings and a website at www.keepourportpublic.org

The Otago Branch of KOPP is being supported by the founding Branch in Christchurch.

The KOPP campaign has the support of New Zealand's two port unions, the Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ), the Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU), CAFCA (The Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa), the Green Party, the Alliance Party, several local body representatives in Canterbury, and many members of the public.

All of Christchurch's local Labour Party and Progressive Party MPs (with the exception of Commerce Minister Lianne Dalziel) have made a joint statement in favour of the Port of Lyttelton remaining in public ownership, with New Zealand ports working together.


KOPP website: http://www.keepourportpublic.org

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