IT’S unmissable – the most prominent of local election billboard campaigns in Manukau, Auckland and Waitakare is undoubtedly that of the Residents Action Movement (RAM).
|HIGH VISIBILITY: Residents Action Movement (RAM) candidates for Manukau seats on the Auckland Regional Council, from left, Roger Fowler, Grant Morgan and Robyn Hughes, are hoping to grab the political spotlight with "a very big vote" come local election day|
Manukau ARC candidate and organiser Grant Morgan says RAM’s billboards are fixed to residential properties and he estimates they number 600.
“And most of our supporters don’t live on main roads,” says Mr Morgan. He adds most people requesting to put up billboards have asked for the one reading: ‘Cut home rates. Corporate Auckland – pay your way!’
RAM’s a central figure in a grassroots, everyday person’s revolution that’s challenging the traditional local body tickets, that are usually influenced by members of parliamentary parties.
Other similar groups such as Citizens Against Privatisation are “coming in under the radar” growing in membership and support since the regional rates revolt by residents started about five years ago.
Mr Morgan says RAM is not modeled on the old way tickets have banded together. He says it’s an ongoing movement that appeals to people feeling left out of, and dissatisfied with, the local political process and its rising costs on households.
RAM’s membership support numbers about 3000, he says, a figure that would be the envy of any established ticket in the region.
Mr Morgan says RAM’s drawing diverse support from across the region. The movement uses new technologies such as websites and email to maintain regular contact with supporters, but he maintains the best means of contact is word of mouth.
“Our grassroots values are social justice, ecological balance and global cooperation,” says Mr Morgan.
“These are not the values of the market and its corporate and political elites. Their world is geared around profit, not people.”
He says many people and households are subscribing to the RAM (www.ram-auckland.net) way, as they’re experiencing “increasing hardship in the midst of fabulous wealth”.
RAM’s fielding candidates for seats on the Auckland Regional Council, the region’s district health boards and Auckland City Council and community boards.
Its main campaign platforms for the election that closes this Saturday at noon are: free and frequent public transport; cut home rates; bring councils back to the people; and, saving Pikes Point as a public green space, instead of converting it into a storage area for import vehicles.
Mr Morgan is standing for a Manukau ARC seat alongside incumbent elected member Robyn Hughes and Roger Fowler.
“RAM’s policy is to cut home rates by levying a business differential which makes corporate Auckland pay its way,” says Ms Hughes.
“Businesses, unlike homeowners, can legally escape most council rates through GST refunds, tax write-offs and cost-plus pricing.
“Councils are ‘inherently involved in income redistribution’, to quote the official findings of the recent rates inquiry (Report of Local Government Rates Inquiry),” says Ms Hughes.