So, its out there in the open: National explicitly suspended Canterbury's democracy because they feared voters would vote to protect the environment from rapacious farmers:
The Government suspended democracy and restricted legal action in Canterbury to protect an agriculture boom potentially worth more than $5 billion to the national economy, documents reveal. It feared the economic boom promised by Canterbury irrigation could be in jeopardy unless Environment Canterbury (ECan) was "stable, effective and efficient", says a Government report on August 27.
A separate Government document, disclosed to The Press under the Official Information Act, says the protection of Canterbury's economic contribution and its future growth were a "key consideration" for suspending democracy.
Irrigation New Zealand chief executive Andrew Curtis said irrigation and the environment would have been threatened if the commissioners' terms had not been extended. The Canterbury Water Management Strategy has an end target of 850,000ha within the next 50 years.
A Government document, disclosed to The Press under the Official Information Act, reveals that this needs to be continued because there is a "strong risk" people could revert to appealing to the Environment Court.
In case its not clear enough: the cost of that irrigation boom is poisoning Canterbury's rivers. Canterbury voters don't want this; in the 2007 ECan elections they elected four councillors specifically on an anti-irrigation ticket, and this trend looked likely to continue. And that is why the government acted. Likewise, the persistence of the community in standing up for their environment and challenging dubious irrigation decisions was the reason National removed those rights.
Suppressing democracy and suspending the rule of law because you don't like the outcome is the action of a tyrant. It is exactly what happened in Algeria in 1991 and Burma in 1990 and what is likely to happen in Fiji in 2014. And if National is willing to do this to local government, what's to stop them from wheeling out the same arguments to suspend Parliamentary elections to prevent "socialists" from wrecking their "economic recovery" (you know, the one with no jobs, but half million dollar bonuses to CEOs)?
National's actions in Canterbury call their commitment to democracy into question. They can no longer be trusted to be responsible players in a democratic system. They must be voted out, and kept out of power until it is clear that they accept democracy.