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Ohariu drive to pull the peg on state asset sales

Mar 19th, 2012 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News

ASSET POWER: John Maynard (left) and Richard Goldsborough.

People’s Power Ohariu and Ohariu Citizens Select Committee are joining forces to stage the asset sales protest meeting at Johnsonville Community Centre Hall.

While their techniques so far have included collecting public submissions, some of which will be presented next Thursday, they say protest action will suit some people.

Civil disobedience was called for by Mana Party leader Hone Harawira at a meeting in Newtown last week and it is a topic that will be discussed, says People’s Power Ohariu spokesperson John Maynard.

“I wouldn’t say people are opposed to it, we just haven’t discussed it.

“We’re very keen to see people taking whatever action they think is appropriate.”

Mr Maynard cites Parihaka in the 1880’s, when local residents pulled out surveying pegs in land that the Government was confiscating.

“So what we were looking at is, what are the metaphorical survey pegs that have been put in by the Government to sell what we own? And how can we pull the pegs out?

It is the time leading up to the first asset sale that will likely lead to civil disobedience from the public, says Richard Goldsbrough of the Ohariu Citizens Select Committee.

“I think then there is likely to be civil disobedience, or action that people will be encouraged to take, like switching power companies.”

The two groups were formed to empower those who thought there was nothing they could do to stop asset sales after the election, says Mr Maynard.

“A group of us thought ‘well, there is something we can do, and we should at least try to stop the sales’.”

Mr Goldsbrough is encouraging people to make written submissions.

“It’s about mobilising energy, and part of that is submissions,” says Mr Goldsbrough, pointing to the stack of submissions he has already collected, which will help inform a report that his group will present to Parliament in April.

They say the issue is of particular importance to local residents because if Member of Parliament for Ohariu Peter Dunne were to switch his allegiance, then partial asset sales of four state-owned power companies would not go ahead.

To highlight the link, the groups tied a ribbon to each of the 294 power poles between Mr Dunne’s office’s in Johnsonville and Parliament last month.

Blogger’s dig at Labour links denied

Right-wing blogger Cameron Slater has suggested a link between the Postal Workers Union of Aotearoa, of which Mr Maynard is president, and the Labour Party.

Mr Maynard disputes this, as well as the implication that People’s Power Ohariu and the Ohariu Citizens Select Committee are party-affiliated.The groups will remain party neutral, he says.

Asked about the other community groups mobilising around the country in opposition to the sales, both Mr Maynard and Mr Goldsbrough say they are aware of the groups but have not linked into a wider nationwide network.

Of particular concern to the groups is the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, which Mr Maynard says is unknown to many members of the public.

The groups intend to inform the public on this issue, and increase the government’s transparency involving the TPPA.

One proposed provision of the TPPA is asset-owner’s ability to sue the New Zealand Government for law changes that will affect the profitability of their assets.

This, says Mr Maynard, will severely impact New Zealand’s sovereignty.

“Most people have no idea about that,” says Mr Maynard.

“It’s been kept very, very low. All the negotiations are secret.”

Next week’s meeting is at 7:30pm on Thursday at the Johnsonville Community Centre and the public can present oral submissions. Written submissions can be posted to PO Box 13 367 Johnsonville, or emailed to save.our.soes@hotmail.co.nz.

 

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