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Sign vandals spare Greens in Wellington Central

Sign vandals spare Greens in Wellington Central

Last night in Wellington Central thousands of volunteers’ dollars were trashed, as party and candidate signage was defaced or destroyed. On many sites the timber was smashed. Nearly all parties suffered.

National’s Wellington central candidate Stephen Franks said “We’ll spend around $800 repairing one night’s damage alone. I suspect that other parties together will spend more.

“Our damage will all be repaired. We’ll buy new plastics and timber, screws and washers. Under the absurd workings of the EFA we could even get a small benefit out of that destruction as our timber is upgraded and the signs are changed.

“On one theory the persistent damage to signs, and the consequent changes in them adds to their impact. People look to see what has happened overnight. And the Electoral Finance Act means we do not have to take into account in our spending cap the replacement costs.”

Last night at least the only hoardings spared seem to have been Green.

Franks commented “Perhaps some idiot supporter thought it would cleanse the city for the Green launch here in Wellington today, but I’m sure it would embarrass them. I respect Sue Kedgely and such waste would be anathema to her. All parties attract people they could do without and the official Greens would deplore the vandalism, not least because last night’s debris, including the plastic, will end up in the landfill.

“The right to try to persuade your neighbours who to vote for is rare in human history, and it is still a minority privilege in our world. People committed to active democracy will not be suppressed. So whatever the damage it is a point of principle to repair it.

“Wellington has thousands of people with passionate views about who would best lead our country. They support many different parties. Many give their time and their money to help persuade less passionate neighbours . These attempts to suppress that communication add to the burden on such donors, but the EFA leaves more money available than will ever be spendable on signage.

“I understand people who feel that hoardings do not persuade – they merely shout. Others just dislike signage of any kind. But I’ve also noticed the intolerance of some who express those views. They assume that anyone worth consideration shares their likes and dislikes.

“Many people who will vote have still to realize there is an election. If they’re uninterested in media stories on politics, it is only the sprouting of signage that switches on their vague interest in finding out a bit more. The signage signals a competition. They may not be much interested in politics, but many of them do like competitive sport. Elections are a competition and signage is part of it. So the signage plays a vital part in generating participation.

“So for those who do not like seeing the signs for 2 months out of the 36 in our democratic cycle, can you see it as a minor sacrifice to help engage your neighbours?

“Elections are a precious rite, however less than perfect its outcomes. Vandalism will not suppress it. It simply makes the rite more wasteful.”


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