APEC Opponents Slam "Shoddy Govt. Info Campaign"
Apec Opponents Sick Of Picking Up After Shoddy Government Information Campaign
The APEC Monitoring Group which has organised a programme of education and action throughout 1999 to expose and oppose APEC and its free trade and investment, free market agenda is fielding numerous calls and visits to its Auckland office by Aucklanders who have been kept in the dark as to the true level of traffic disruptions and road closures during next month’s APEC Leaders Summit.
The APEC Monitoring Group set up its office at the Methodist Mission in early August and this week installed a prominent anti-APEC window display at 370 Queen St. It is organising a public meeting and two day forum in Auckland from 10-12 September, entitled Alternatives To The APEC Agenda, and a rally on the afternoon of 12 September.
“It is an indictment on the official strategy to keep Aucklanders in the dark up until the last minute about the real impact of the APEC meetings on the city that people are turning to our volunteer staff for information. There are huge gaps in the information that has been produced thus far. In one case a local who had called the APEC TaskForce office seeking information about traffic delays and road closures was told to come down to their office to view some details on a computer screen. We’ve even had people coming here to try and get photos taken for APEC media accreditation purposes before there was any visible indication of our presence here! And there are many other examples. Aucklanders are being treated with contempt.” says Aziz Choudry of the APEC Monitoring Group.
“Part of the government’s ‘communications strategy’ on APEC has been to deliberately limit the amount of information about disruption to Aucklanders’ lives until shortly before the meetings start. In Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade documents released under the Official Information Act last year, we learnt that the severity of traffic disruption, disruption to mail, courier and rubbish disposal services would be “subject to the security requirements of overseas delegations”. Public relations advice to the Auckland City Council to sell APEC to the public stated: “don’t provide information in a proactive way until close to the event...the message should state that APEC is good (and why)”.
“It’s not hard to see why the public have been kept in the dark about the effects of APEC on Auckland. Many businesses and residents alike are questioning why they have to put up with the city being turned upside down for a free trade and investment gabfest that is going nowhere fast, promoting a market economic approach which has been tried, tested and failed here in New Zealand”, he said.