Council venues and politics

The Manawatu Standard editorial:

It would seem the Palmerston North City Council doesn’t really have a position on what sorts of events its venues should be associated with.

That might seem remiss, but it is also better than having a restrictive policy.

Councillors should be wary of imposing an unwelcome moral code on the city or smuggling political posturing into places where it does not belong.

Venues should be politically neutral.

Unless an event is going to break the law, it should be able to be held at a Government owned venue.

The way venues are used in the city is to be reviewed. That’s fine, but if councillors wish to politicise what venues are used for, we ought to know who wants to sneak in some control-freakery and who generally favours freedom.

I find that when people can’t win debates, they try to ban the other side from speaking.

There are also hints that the council should support censorship, for this is presumably what is meant by “respond appropriately” to allowing speakers “whose views are demonstrably incompatible with the Human Rights Act”.

If a speaker breaches the Human Rights Act, they can be prosecuted. But what some politicians want is for anyone whose views they dislike to be painted as ***ist and banned from holding public meetings.

Beware the slippery slope.

Should a city council venue host a Defence Force industry forum?

Should the Railway Land be used to host a gathering of trucks reliant on fossil fuels?

Should a chocolate fair be held at the Palmerston North Conference and Function Centre or should the city be clear about its opposition to sugary diets?

Is rugby non-violent enough to be staged at the Central Energy Trust Arena?

Yes ban the chocolate fair!

The threshold for turning away events should be set high. These are community facilities and we deserve better than to have our venues turned into the latest battleground for political points-scoring. 

The message from residents to councillors must be unequivocal – these venues are ours, not yours.

A good editorial.