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Government's APEC PR Strategy In Tatters

MEDIA RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 9 August 1999

Government's APEC PR Strategy In Tatters Claims Union

The Government's public relations strategy regarding APEC is in tatters following two significant developments over last weekend according to Trade Union Federation President, Maxine Gay.

"First, a major Hui of Maori in Rotorua rejected the APEC agenda and the impact of this form of neo-colonialism on the Maori people.

"Second, the announcement of the cancellation of next week's PSA / CTU pro-APEC Conference because of lack of registrations shows that workers have no interest in being part of an APEC circus that is by definition anti-worker," Maxine Gay said.

"The Trade Union Federation is part of the APEC Monitoring Group which has lead the attack on the APEC "free-market" ideology over the last 5 years. This has been a concern of the TUF as it has represented those workers in the motor assembly, clothing and footwear industries. Tens of thousands of workers in these industries have lost their jobs as the Government follows its "APEC free-trade commitments."

"In preparation for APEC, the Government has spent a large amount of money trying to manufacture consent of key parts of the New Zealand population to the APEC agenda. It has done this by appointing NGO, Maori and Women APEC liaison officers, a bevy of PR people and producing a series of television advertisements.

"Papers released under the Official Information Act show the Government describing the failed PSA / CTU Conference as "the key NGO conference of APEC, New Zealand 99" (letter of Peter Parussini to Joe Tonner, PSA, 12 April 1999.)

Yet this Conference was being boycotted by not only the TUF but also some of the CTU's own affiliates. And now it has collapsed for lack of interest.

"It has been the anti-APEC conferences and meetings that have caught the attention of New Zealanders over this year," said Maxine Gay.

"More than a thousand New Zealanders have attended these meetings in Wellington, Christchurch, Auckland, Whangarei and Hamilton organised by the APEC Monitoring Group. More are planned culminating in an "Alternatives to APEC" Conference in Auckland at the time of the APEC Leaders Meeting.

"These events have shown that even small organisations can beat the official APEC publicity machine if their message strikes a cord with ordinary New Zealanders. In the case of the $50 million APEC circus, our slogan of APEC: It's not worth it has certainly done that," Maxine Gay said.

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