Pro­test­ers’ posters a stick­ing point

The Hutt News - - NEWS - By NI­CHOLAS BOYACK

Frus­tra­tion with the me­dia and a be­lief in the right to protest are at the heart of a scrap be­tween anti free trade pro­test­ers and Hutt City Coun­cil staff.

In March, coun­cil­lors voted to sup­port pro­test­ers fight­ing the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship Agree­ment (TPPA). TPP Ac­tion be­lieve the TPPA will un­der­mine Phar­mac and open the Gov­ern­ment up to legal threats from United States cor­po­ra­tions.

To advertise ral­lies, TPP Ac­tion has glued posters and fliers to lamp­posts and other in­fra­struc­ture around Lower Hutt.

That has re­sulted in a pro­tracted email battle, as coun­cil of­fi­cers have tried to re­cover the cost of re­mov­ing the posters.

Coun­cil solic­i­tor Brad Cato has now sent TPP Ac­tion mem­ber Antony Mad­dock a let­ter set­ting a May 29 dead­line to pay $1400.

‘‘My pro­posed so­lu­tion at this stage is to claim the costs as­so­ci­ated with re­mov­ing the unau­tho­rised fliers through the Dis­putes Tri­bunal or Dis­trict Court. Given the lack of re­morse, on-go­ing fail­ure to seek autho­ri­sa­tion to erect fliers and fail­ure to ac­cept re­spon­si­bil­ity for the mess you are caus­ing by re­mov­ing th­ese fliers your­self, I have also sug­gested a pros­e­cu­tion for breach of the by­law might be ap­pro­pri­ate here.’’

The coun­cil is tak­ing ac­tion against Mad­dock although it has had cor­re­spon­dence from TPP Ac­tion’s Greg Rzes­niowiecki, say­ing he put the posters up.

Rzes­niowiecki has replied to the May 29 dead­line with a four-page let­ter to the mayor, ask­ing for in­ter­ven­tion.

‘‘I write to you, seek­ing a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion to an ad­min­is­tra­tive prob­lem your staff have laid at our feet.’’

He told the mayor main­stream me­dia have ig­nored the is­sue and TPP Ac­tion felt it had to use other ways to get its mes­sage across.

‘‘ I as­sert it is our ac­tivism, which in­cluded post­ing public no­tices through­out the Welling­ton re­gion, in­clud­ing the Hutt City Coun­cil ter­ri­tory, that con­trib­uted to the de­ci­sion that Hutt City Coun­cil, along with Welling­ton City, Up­per Hutt City, and Kapiti Coast Dis­trict Coun­cils ar­rived at in adopt­ing the TPP pol­icy so­lu­tion.’’

Rzes­niowiecki goes on to say he is happy to de­bate the is­sue in court.

‘‘If you must pro­ceed against some per­son, I am happy enough for the op­por­tu­nity to dis­cuss our hu­man rights, in­clud­ing free speech, and the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of the fourth es­tate, be­fore the courts.’’

Mayor Ray Wal­lace told Hutt News it is an op­er­a­tional mat­ter and he will not get in­volved.

Rzes­niowiecki told us he be­lieved the courts would up­hold his right to free­dom of ex­pres­sion.

TPP Ac­tion has a right to have its mes­sage heard and the coun­cil should not have taken the posters down, he said.

Happy to see coun­cil staff take a tough stance is Cr Max Shier­law.

‘‘I have no sym­pa­thy for them. It is to­tally out­ra­geous for them to think the ratepay­ers should pick up the tab. There are other ways to get their mes­sage out, like pam­phlets in let­ter­boxes.’’

Greg Rzes­niowiecki, seen here at a protest in Nel­son, is fight­ing the Hutt City Coun­cil over the right to protest. The coun­cil is billing him for the cost of re­mov­ing posters ad­ver­tis­ing anti free trade ral­lies.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.