Our response to Weekender editorials criticizing Taupo Campaign

To be published 3 Oct 19

" It's hypocritical for an editor of a paper to criticize a lobby group for trying to influence voters, when the very purpose of their article is to try to influence those same voters. Also, the candidates are trying to influence voters, just as we are. We have not hidden our names (2 of which are printed with every ad) - anyone is free to ask and we will oblige. Various supporters choose to remain anonymous - we respect that right, as do our supporters.

The principles of democracy and free speech are at stake here. When a paper bans letters to the editor containing political content, regularly posts it's own political comment, then twice criticizes a lobby group for suggesting preferred candidates - this is unacceptable. 

Our purpose is the democratization of information. We have taken the time, which most voters don't have, and applied our collective experience, after researching and analyzing them, to suggest candidates who we believe are better suited to the positions. Those candidates who embraced the idea of being open and honest made our list; those who were defensive or refused to participate, didn't. We felt that the responses to involvement (or lack of) strongly reflected the suitability of the candidates for a council who we would like to be more open to fresh ideas, constructive criticism and common sense. 

I had a discussion with the Electoral Office about our plans and we followed Warwick Lammp's advise (arm's length discussions, no financial involvement, free to advertise as we chose). The names and 'authorized by' etc,  didn't have to be added to each advert, as we were not part of the electoral process, but we chose to anyway. Who was named is irrelevant anyway, it is the message that is important. 

We stand by our right to freely express our views, as we are only suggesting who to vote for, just as any candidate or other lobby group are doing. We have had plenty of support for our work, from those who don't mind who is doing it."

Paul Henson, Timothy Plummer.

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