Democracy – Whangarei Leader – 23rd April 2013.
When is something not what it is believed to be?
It has been witnessed by myself and others who attend council meetings that a number of requests to speak at the ‘Public Forum’ have not been approved.
I personally believe people have the right to speak to one’s peers, their elected representatives and the media present and understand that as a right under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. Section 14, Freedom of Expression: which reads “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any king in any form’.
The Whangarei Mayor campaigned in 2010 stating “When you vote for me you are voting for an open, transparent Council where nothing is hidden or covered up.”
Isn’t vetting the applicants who wish to speak in the public forum for a mere three minutes a contradiction to his pledges and denying the rights of fellow citizens to hear these issued aired publicly?
Citizens wish to speak to their elected and discuss issues that may be being inflicted upon them, or of concern to them. To have the right to speak denied is not democratic. This also does not allow for any conflicts they may be, to be addressed.
The heat, the issues, the criticism, the compliments, the questions, the concerns etc are all part of the job. The days of ‘behind closed doors stuff’, is well and truly over. In October, we need representatives who are willing to have a culture of mutual respect and understanding. They also need to be prepared to genuinely listen. I would like to see these situations handled in a manner that makes for better, balanced relationship and I will in my endeavors attempt to ensure that happens.
(Items that were abridged by the Whangarei Leader are in italics, for their published copies)