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Scoop Images - Wellington Protest against State Asset Sales

Scoop Images - Wellington Protest against State Asset Sales

Anne Russell
February 7, 2012

Around 100 protesters gathered at Parliament today to protest state asset sales. Organised by Occupy Wellington and Transparency New Zealand, the march had representatives from established political groups such as Grey Power and Democrats for Social Credit, along with various unaffiliated activists.


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Jonathan Eliot, a self-appointed spokesperson for Occupy Wellington, emceed the event. Later on, when Winston Peters spoke, he accused Peters of lying to him in an email and unplugged the microphone. The crowd was displeased.


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Russel Norman

The politicians who spoke were fairly comprehensive and supportive of the protest effort, but had trouble reaching the crowd. This was due to a combination of a few people shouting slogans, and surrounding media cameras blocking the view.


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Hone Harawira


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The protest was ostensibly against state asset sales, but also included speeches against fracking and the Pike River mine disaster.


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Winston Peters, who opposes asset sales, got a few words into the speech when his mic was cut off by the emcee, who shouted at him. Never did I expect to see a crowd of left-wing protesters mobilise against one of their own activists in favour of Winston Peters.

Protests are valuable activist tools in that they visibilise those in solidarity about a political issue. However, it is important for activists to consider both those they are representing and those they are trying to reach. Inviting someone to speak and then talking over them is exceptionally bad form, and should go against the ethos of any progressive, egalitarian movement. The narcissism of such an act is partly what movements like Occupy Wellington were designed to fight against.

The issue of state asset sales is highly important to many New Zealanders, and needs extensive counteraction on all political fronts. However relaxed John Key may be about his majority, a 65% voter turnout indicates a 35% no confidence vote. Even within the statistics of those who voted, this government's majority is scant. It is very unlikely that any government could gain a valid mandate for selling state assets, given that these belong to the whole country.

While the essentially illegal sale of state assets requires trenchant critique and political action, this doesn't include yelling "John Key's a poo!" into a mic (I wish I were making that up). Hopefully other New Zealanders will channel their political frustration more effectively than today's rally.

ENDS

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