Friday, October 24, 2014

Christchurch's rebuild should be decided by Christchurch, not Wellington

Radio New Zealand has an appalling story this morning about the government's interference in the Christchurch rebuild over the new District Plan. Normally district plans are decided by elected local councils accountable to the voters who will live under them. But National has been using its extraordinary CERA powers to impose one from Wellington - and threatening to simply legislate for one if the council resists:

The email finished with a threat from the minister.

" should be noted that the Council should not consider the current track of a truncated process under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act the only option. An incoming government will always have the option of special legislation to create a standalone plan process for Christchurch as was done for the first Auckland unitary plan. I would urge the Council to carefully consider the relative risks and merits of proceeding with the current track."

This was a reference to what happened as part of the Super City legislation, where the Government required a new district plan for the whole region to be in place within three years and where the Government set the terms for how the new city should operate.

This is simply an affront to democracy. Christchurch belongs to the people who live there, and they should decide what it looks like. The only reason for National to bully the Council in this way is if their preferred options would not be approved by the people of Christchurch - which simply highlights why they should keep their nose out of it.