INDEPENDENT NEWS

APEC Opponents Slam "Shoddy Govt. Info Campaign"

Published: Fri 20 Aug 1999 12:49 AM
The APEC Monitoring Group which has organised a programme of
education and action throughout 1999 to expose and oppose APEC
and its free trade and investment, free market agenda is fielding
numerous calls and visits to its Auckland office by Aucklanders
who have been kept in the dark as to the true level of traffic
disruptions and road closures during next month's APEC Leaders
Summit.
The APEC Monitoring Group set up its office at the Methodist
Mission in early August and this week installed a prominent anti-APEC
window display at 370 Queen St. It is organising a public meeting
and two day forum in Auckland from 10-12 September, entitled
Alternatives To The APEC Agenda, and a rally on the afternoon
of 12 September.
'It is an indictment on the official strategy to keep Aucklanders
in the dark up until the last minute about the real impact of
the APEC meetings on the city that people are turning to our
volunteer staff for information. There are huge gaps in the
information that has been produced thus far. In one case a local
who had called the APEC TaskForce office seeking information
about traffic delays and road closures was told to come down
to their office to view some details on a computer screen. We've
even had people coming here to try and get photos taken for APEC
media accreditation purposes before there was any visible indication
of our presence here! And there are many other examples. Aucklanders
are being treated with contempt.' says Aziz Choudry of the APEC
Monitoring Group.
'Part of the government's ‘communications strategy' on APEC has
been to deliberately limit the amount of information about disruption
to Aucklanders' lives until shortly before the meetings start.
In Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade documents released under
the Official Information Act last year, we learnt that the severity
of traffic disruption, disruption to mail, courier and rubbish
disposal services would be 'subject to the security requirements
of overseas delegations'. Public relations advice to the Auckland
City Council to sell APEC to the public stated: 'don't provide
information in a proactive way until close to the event...the
message should state that APEC is good (and why)'.
'It's not hard to see why the public have been kept in the dark
about the effects of APEC on Auckland. Many businesses and residents
alike are questioning why they have to put up with the city being
turned upside down for a free trade and investment gabfest that
is going nowhere fast, promoting a market economic approach which
has been tried, tested and failed here in New Zealand', he said.

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