Greens accused of selling out over billboard stoush

DANYA LEVY
Last updated 11:31 16/11/2011
billboard

One of the billboards targetted by the group.

John Key on billboard damage

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Former Green MP Sue Bradford has accused the party of "selling out their own people" after it was revealed a party member coordinated the nationwide vandalism of up to 700 National billboards.

Greens co-leader Russel Norman yesterday said Jolyon White, who is the partner of his executive assistant Anne Heins, was behind Sunday night's orchestrated raids involving about 50 people.

He was quick to distance the Greens from the action, saying no party resources or money were used.

Heins knew about White's plans for two months but said nothing to the Greens.

She has now been stood down while Parliamentary Services launches an investigation and White has resigned his membership.

Bradford, who is now part of the Mana Party, this morning disputed the action was vandalism, saying attaching stickers which read "The Rich Deserve More" and "Drill It, Mine It, Sell It" was clever and well conceived.

"It wasn't vandalistic, nothing was damaged. All you have to do is take the stickers off."

The Greens she was a part of from 1999 to 2009 would have been delighted its members were involved in such an action.

"This leadership of the Green Party is happily dobbing in its members to the authorities and the media and condemning their own people.

"It goes against the whole principle of solidarity and of not dobbing in your mates which is very strong in radical activist groups but also in the New Zealand culture."

The Greens were founded by protesters but there was no longer a place for radical activism in the party, Bradford said.

"It is all part of the mainstreaming of the Greens.

"It part of the process of making them palatable to National and cosying up to John Key and selling out their own people in the process."

Labour leader Phil Goff said it was wrong to deface hoardings, but he would not lay a police complaint over his own stolen billboards.

He said he felt sorry for Norman.

"I think an apology and putting it right is the right thing to do."

Several of Goff's signs have been removed in his Mt Roskill electorate but he said that was what happened in election campaigns.

"They've been very personal, they've chosen the ones with my photo on. Somebody suggested they might be adorning somebody's lounge wall and I thought well that's ok. But more likely its the back of the toilet door."

It was appeared their removal had been politically orientated, Goff said.
 
Norman said today the Greens had never supported the destruction of billboards.

"Billboards are a cost effective way for all political parties to communicate their message."

If parties destroyed each others' billboards they would no longer be used and the only way to communicate in the outdoor environment would be via commercial advertising which cost more than $20,000 a month per billboard.

"There's no way the parties with less money can afford that."

Norman defended going to the media, saying many people recognised White's voice when he appeared on radio discussing the raids and it was just a matter of time before someone told National who he was.

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"It is ridiculous to say we sold out Jolyon because it was inevitable he was going to be identified."

Bradford was part of the Greens when it signed a memorandum of understanding to work with National on certain issues, Norman said.

The stickers had destroyed the billboards because they stripped the paint off when they were removed, he said.

- Stuff

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