Friday, April 16, 2010

ECan: The people are angry II

Another night, another (according to Russel Norman's twitter feed) packed out public meeting in Christchurch about the abolition of their local democracy. People in New Zealand are generally quite politically inactive, and when a government policy is resulting in meetings like this, they should be very afraid. At this rate, National is going to be met on the campaign trail next year by a mob with torches and pitchforks.

There is however still space for them to back down. While ECan's councillors are giving their valedictories, legally they haven't been sacked yet. That doesn't happen until "replacement day", which is a date set by the government by a Gazette notice. While the government is talking about 1 May, no such notice has been issued yet (at least according to the Gazette online, which seems to be up to date). While the Minister must set a date, they could simply not set one for the time being, subject ECan to intensive monitoring, and use the hanging threat of replacement as an incentive for better performance. The problem then is that thanks to sloppy drafting, the cancellation of this years elections is not contingent on replacement - meaning the current ECan councillors would continue in office until 2013 or replacement (unless, I suppose, they called a special election themselves, which they can still do - and in fact could do on their last day in office as a final "fuck you" to the government).

Actually, looking at that further, the ECan Act only cancels the regular 2010 election, and has no effect on any other election. So, if before it left office ECan called a special election for, say, July, it would proceed as normal - triggering resumption day and the automatic expiry of the dictatorship (and in such a case, the new councillors would hold office until 2013).

ECan should do this. They should fight for the democratic rights of the people they represent. Anything less is chickenshit.