Joe Rifici and I presented to Nelson City Council today about democracy and accountability of our representatives.
Joe Rifici starts at approx 16 mins. I start at 24.10.
In the 2 minutes I was allocated I was unable to cover much of what I had wished to cover, so here is the longer version.
NOTES FOR NELSON CC- FREEDOM, DEMOCRACY and REPRESENTATION
Thank you Mayor Reece and Councillors for the opportunity to speak today.
I speak as a mother, a long term resident of Nelson, co-leader of NZ Outdoors Party, lawyer, science graduate. specialist in emerging issues and risk assessment and community member with broad connections and a strong interest in community and environmental wellbeing, human rights, fairness and equity, democracy.
Firstly thanks to each of you for offering yourselves as our representatives. It is an extremely important role to represent local voices and local communities in our ever more complex world where individuality and community is under threat.
Since the 1980s the neo-liberal agenda has urged us to focus solely on money and economics and survival of the fittest at the expense of ethics, values and judgment.
More recently so called “science” has been the sole focus for many decision makers, again to the detriment of ethics, values, good judgment and humanity.
Science is only as good as the quality of the information, the quality of the model and the independence and competence of those assessing it. We overlook important and sometimes critical factors that we don’t know or understand.
Science was not designed for risk assessment. History shows it has badly let us down on many occasions- think cigarettes, thalidomide, asbestos, methyl bromide, fluoride, vaccines and RFEMR.
Sadly the current “science” model allocate all the risk of uncertainty of new drugs and technologies to the public. The corporations gain the profit, we the community, bare the risks.
The more recent and ongoing trend towards nationalisation and globalisation based on the view that our representatives and bureaucrats know best, has undermined much of Nelson’s special character and culture. And it has undermined our local voices.
The hierarchy of the current system encourages local government to defer to central government. Central government tempt local councils with offers of inducements, grants and other access to funds and resources. Please recognise we are not a community of prostitutes who can be bought. Our community and our environment is not for sale to the highest bidder.
We need our council to listen to us, to understand and value our views and share information relevant to decision making.
We need our local council to prioritise the diverse interests of our local people- not national or global interests – or their own career. Localism and diversity are very important.
Refer OIA of 26 Jan 2020- council reply of 11 March 2020 advising cost of $2454.80 to process my request. Eventually after I offered to personally search the council files, we received some public information held by the council on our behalf on 3 December. It is our information. It is not acceptable for Council to charge community representatives to access it.
Earlier this year several of us were invited to speaks at the Council workshop of 5G. We attended to share our considerable medical, IT, legal and life expertise and offer alternative perspectives and assist our representatives to ask better questions of their employees, consultants and central government.
Disappointingly, despite the council nominating the time and date, very few councillors attended, and some who did were distracted by their cellphones and devices.
The rollout of 5G in our communities without our informed consent is unfinished business. So is the spraying of our schools, parks and streets with glyphosate and other poisons.
The Brook Sanctuary was once a freely accessible, thriving sanctuary. When you go to the Brook Cemetery now it is often locked. If it is open, and you can afford the entry price, the volunteers speak of the thriving trees rather than the birds. Even the native weka were poisoned- removing our natural mouse traps.
The council supported the aerial poisoning of the Brook Valley sanctuary with 32kg of brodifacoum poison baits per hectare- contrary to the advice of independent experts. This was done after the first of four tuataras at Natureland were poisoned with brodifacoum after eating “blue” rat bait poisoned cockroaches.
Brodifacoum is persistent and bio-accumulative. Brodifacoum builds up in our ecosystems and foodchain in the same way that Rachel Carson explained in Silent Spring in 1962, before many of us were even born.
The community’s alerted decision makers to the risk of secondary kill, yet it was treated as a hypothetical, because not a single person in the Council mentioned the dead tuatara. Instead the council trespassed local farmers and other long term residents who raised concerns off this public reserve.
Who in council questioned the optimistic budgets for running the sanctuary- including paying the volunteer team substantial salaries from council funds. As residents we now must subsidise the sanctuary with our rates and pay to visits our once public and freely accessible reserve.
We now have a similar issue brewing with the plans to subdivide the Maitai. Please don’t kill Nelson’s golden goose.
Nelson is an incredible place with incredible and diverse people and fabulous markets and creativity. But we are losing our uniqueness. We can do so much better with more community engagement. The first step is to truly listen to the dreams, vision and concerns of the people you represent. We speak up because we care, and we have important perspectives to share.
All we expect in return is that you listen and you represent us.
My plea is for all our representatives to spend time over the summer break not only to celebrate all that is incredible in our lives and community, but also to reflect on what democracy and representation mean. Go beyond playing with words and processes to truly understand and feel democracy, and then live it but using your positions to speak for us.
Together we can do anything.
If you are interested in freedom, democracy and relate issues please join Joe Rifici and I on Freedom SoS on Fresh FM Nelson each Sunday at 4pm.