Farmers protest exposes double standard Sunday, Sep 7, 2003
Students are calling on Parliament’s Speaker Jonathon Hunt to give equal access to Parliament for protests, after farmers and their tractors went up the steps of parliament yesterday.
“Democracy is based on all citizens having one vote and equal access to our parliament,“ said Fleur Fitzsimons, Co-President of the New Zealand University Students’ Association. “It’s clear that access to parliament is not equal to all citizens, when students are kept at the gate and farmers are welcomed through the door.”
“In 1997, 75 students were arrested for peacefully protesting against the National Party’s moves to further privatise tertiary education, and many were subsequently banned from entering Parliament grounds,” said Fitzsimons. “But yesterday farmers were able to drive tractors up the steps of Parliament without obstruction.”
“We are not disputing the right of farmers to make their voices heard, but this right must apply equally to all groups who protest at Parliament.”
“Students will be writing to the Speaker of the House to ask for equal treatment of all groups who choose to bring their message directly to the country’s law makers.”