Title: ACC Saga continues - Get your votes in Credit: Trevor Barnard Comment Wednesday 10th April 2002 - 12:00pm1018396800 Article: 31 Rights
Aucklanders should closely observe their conservative-dominated council and bear Banks and Co. in mind when voting for a new ARC member, says political columnist Trevor Barnard. The news from Auckland City Council continues to make its way to nationwide TV and newspapers thanks in small part to the activity of a well-known lesbian member of our community. Lisa Prager has been to the forefront of the protests against Mayor John Banks actions as the council adopts the (Sir William) Birch report. News from Councils rarely ever makes it past your 'local rag' even though Councils have far more impact on the quality of your life than central government. It is your Council after all who collects your rubbish, provides clean water for you to drink, ensures you can sometimes swim in the harbour and that you can have clean air to breath, controls the noise from your neighbours so you can sleep at night, and provides (or not) your transport options to get to work. Auckland City Council however is making major changes to the way it operates which will, in the view of Lisa and myself, will have serious long-term effects for all its citizens. For example the sale of assets like the airport shares will deprive ratepayers of future income; changes to tree policy will denude the city of trees; user charges on community facilities will make them less accessible and in fact some community halls will be sold. With the sale of pensioner housing "Banksie" has shown that he is not afraid to pick off and to marginalise minorities. This is part of the Birch report that Banks and Hay have adopted, as is the decision to cut scholarships worth $62,000 for Maori and Pacific Island students from the council budget. So you can bet your bottom dollar that should funding for a gay/lesbian group, not just Hero but say the Pride Centre or Gay Welfare, come up in the future, the Council will not come to the party. Not only that, I am certain that Banks and Hay will at the same time as denying us funding also attack us as a community - directly or indirectly. They wont be afraid to, they won't be able to help themselves and they will see it as electorally advantageous. By denying funding to a gay or lesbian group they will say they are protecting the ratepayers interests - even though they are increasing the rates! They will say funding our community events is a 'not a core activity' of Council and indeed, given the recommendations in the Birch report to cut community development functions, they will be in line with their stated programme. Nevertheless, they will attack us, as they need to reward those fundamentalist Christians who supported them at the election. As a community we have seen this before and that is why we should show some unity with other groups and protest in whatever way possible. We don't all have to go to Council meetings, sit in the Mayors seat and put our cowboy boots on his desk (blatantly false according to Lisa) but why not turn up and witness the actions of often-faceless elected councilors. These people are politicians - they like to be liked and they listen to pressure - so turn up, write in or phone them up. Currently electors in the ACC area are voting to elect a replacement member for the Regional Council caused by the death of Phil Warren. Former ARC member and environmentalist Mike Lee is the front-runner against Hay's running mate Margaret Tapper. This could well be a referendum on how we view the shambles at city hall. With John Banks, Auckland City Council is becoming a laughing stock but this is serious stuff so lets not sit back. Return those ballot papers for the ARC election if nothing else. Postscript Christine Fletcher certainly took offence at my last column when I suggested that gay Aucklanders could have someone better than her to support as mayor at the next election. As a gay man who's sexual activity and identity has not only been ignored and condemned by society for centuries but was also made illegal for half of my adult life I wouldn't have thought I was in a comfort zone but it just shows you how wrong I can be. Not only was I wrong on that, but also it appears I wasn't even on this planet for the last 12 years. Heavens to Betsy, I am sure I was a resident of good old NZ. when it was governed by a National Party government that Christine was indeed part of. A government that in the 90's sold off public assets, cut benefits and wages for most people, hiked up interest rates, kept a quarter of a million NZ'ers out of work and who presided over piss poor economic growth. Christine may want to write her part of the history of that time (or even rewrite history) but she can't actually get away from the fact that she was part of that government, did actually campaign for it and did indeed vote (along with John Banks and Bill Birch) for its policies. That's why I ask for someone better to run for Mayor in 2004. Christine had her chance, was found wanting and was beaten by a wanker from Whangarei. It's going to be a big ask for gay Aucklanders to turn around and support her again. Trevor Barnard Trevor Barnard - 10th April 2002    
This page displays a version of the article with all formatting and images removed. It was harvested automatically and some text content may not have been fully captured correctly. A copy of the full article is available (off-line) at the Lesbian and Gay Archives of New Zealand. This online version is provided for personal research and review and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of If you have queries or concerns about this article please email us