Wednesday, March 18, 2015

No democracy for Canterbury

In 2010 National dissolved Canterbury's elected regional council and replaced it with handpicked dictators because Cantabrians voted to protect the environment rather than suck the rivers dry for the benefit of farmers. Today, after five long years of dictatorship and environmental pillage, they released their plan for restoring democracy in canterbury. Except that's not what they're doing. Instead, cantabrians will receive a "guided democracy" stacked with government appointees to ensure that they don't make the "wrong" decisions:

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Associate Local Government Minister Louise Upston have today announced the Government’s proposal for a mixed-model governance structure for Environment Canterbury (ECan).

“We are proposing a mixed governance model for Environment Canterbury with seven members elected across Canterbury at the local elections in October 2016 and six appointed by Government. This proposal enables a majority of elected representatives while ensuring continued momentum on the Canterbury Water Management Strategy and earthquake recovery work,” Dr Smith says.

“We believe the mixed governance model is right for Environment Canterbury at this time. It has provided a successful model for district health boards. It enables a local democratic say while also ensuring stability and the specialist skills to deal with the very challenging issues, including water and earthquake recovery,” Ms Upston says.

"Stability" being National-speak for ensuring that farmers get free water and a licence to pollute, and Cantabrians don't decide to protect their environment again.

This is bullshit. ECan doesn't need "specialist skills" - that's what local body staff are for. What it needs above all is democratic legitimacy. And that can only come through the direct election of all ECan members. Anything less is simply more dictatorship. And Cantabrians should not stand for it.