Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Wellington's user-pays "democracy"

In the face of a rising tide of climate protest, governments are cracking down. In the UK, the only-partly-elected government has effectivley banned protests, just like they did in the eighteenth century. In Wellington, they're more subtle, simply imposing unaffordable costs for "traffic management fees":

Wellington City Council left school strikers scrambling to raise $5000 for private traffic management services because the students wanted to march against Government climate inaction.

School Strike 4 Climate Wellington – a group of school-aged students – planned to walk to Parliament next Friday, but did not have the money or options to raise the cash. The council covered the costs for two previous marches.

The council’s actions infringe on their civil right to protest, the students argue.

But the council says it covered the costs twice before and explained to the strikers in June that it wouldn’t fund a third march.

It is of course perfectly legal to march without paying vig to the council's cronies (the council of course doesn't charge people itself - that would be too obvious. Instead, they demand protesters pay Fulton-Hogan, effectively giving them a private taxation right over democracy). But the council threatened a bunch of schoolkids with unspecified legal consequences if they exercised that right, and so as a result there won't be a march. Whether the Council's actions are consistent with the right to freedom of assembly afirmed in the BORA, or with its own climate emergency declaration is left as an exercise for the reader.

Meanwhile, if I was in Wellington, I'd be asking candidates for council what they think about this, and what they're going to do to protect democratic rights if they're elected. And if they support the council's decision, vote the bums out.