Wednesday, 24 September 2008
RAM - Residents Action Movement Media release 23 September 2008 "Despite threats from the Whangarei District Council the People's Procession to Parliament scored a great victory for democracy today," said Grant Morgan, RAM chair and national organiser of the People's Procession. "Thanks to RAM, for refusing to buckle to a local politician trying to ban our democratic voice, and to the citizens of Whangarei." "One thousand signatures were gathered today in just 2 ½ hours. There was not a single negative comment directed at our GST-off-food petition stall, with one exception, which was the message delivered by the council from one of its managers," said Grant Morgan. "WDC regulatory services manager Grant Couchman told me the council was disappointed that RAM went ahead despite being told not to." "I told Mr Couchman that we'd have to be mutually disappointed, because RAM was disappointed at the council's ban on democracy in the central city." "Mr Couchman also told me that RAM could be prosecuted under the Whangarei council bylaw that bans so called political activities in the central city. He told me that RAM could face a $20,000 fine." "I told Mr Couchman that if they were going to take any action they should hit me," said Grant Morgan. "I am questioning whether the Whangarei District Council bylaw contravenes the Human Rights Act, which guarantees freedom of democracy and political expression." "The Whangarei Mayor likes to be called Stan the Man. After his council's over-the-top attempt to intimidate RAM and ban us from putting up a GST-off-food petition stall in the central city, I think it would be more appropriate to call him Stan the Ban," said Grant Morgan. Martin Kaipo, RAM's Whangarei candidate in the upcoming General Election, attended the petition stall in the central city. He believes "the Whangarei District Council's storm cloud was blown away by a fresh breeze: the people of Whangarei." "It was an excellent day," said Martin Kaipo."The people proudly came out in support of RAM and the GST-off-food petition." "On behalf of RAM I thank the thousand Whangarei citizens who rallied to our cause and signed the GST-off-food petition," said Grant Morgan. "And I thank the retailers in the nearby shops who gave their support to the petition stall." "The people have spoken, many came up to our table and said the mayor's not going to chase us away from here. This is our place."