Wednesday, April 21, 2010

All about the water

The Press this morning has an important story about the government's abolition of democracy in Canterbury. Papers released to Forest & Bird under the OIA show that Agriculture Minister David Carter was scheming to steal Canterbury's water for his farmer mates long before ECan was reviewed:

A briefing paper to Carter in December last year said the Rakaia WCO set minimum flow and abstraction limits "that restrict the range of options available to resource management decision-makers and water users".

Three "key blockages to achieving the Government's objective" were the uncertain planning framework, the Rakaia WCO and the conditions on resource consents.

"An approach to unlocking irrigation's potential contribution to economic growth in Mid-Canterbury will need to address all three key blockages," the briefing said. Ad Feedback

A December 4 memo to Carter provided "an update on our progress in developing robust advice about how the Rakaia water-conservation order could be varied in order to facilitate irrigation development in Mid-Canterbury".

A December 21 briefing said the Rakaia River was less well-developed than the Rangitata River and "presents an opportunity for enhanced irrigation development".

The briefing said the irrigation storage capacity of Lake Coleridge [which is subject to a Water Conservation Order - I/S] was "key to unlocking the potential contribution of irrigation to economic growth within central Canterbury".

The Canterbury dictatorship not only removes a democratic roadblock to this plan, it has also granted the Minister for the Environment new powers to amend WCOs when the effect is "minor". What counts as "minor" of course will depend on how much money farmers make out of it. And so we will have Water Conservation Orders which do not conserve, but rather enable the further destruction of rivers by Canterbury's rapacious farmers.

This is clear evidence that the government has acted in bad faith. The removal of ECan's elected members was never about governance; it was always about finding a way to steal Canterbury's water and give it to National's donors. If this happened in the third world, we'd call it what it is: a corrupt looting of the state.