Friday, July 16, 2010

Protecting Canterbury's rivers

Earlier in the year, the government abolished democracy in Canterbury, replacing the elected Environment Canterbury with unelected dictators and cancelling this year's local body election. While ostensibly about governance, the imposition of a dictatorship was all about the water; "sorting out" water rights in Canterbury means giving all the water to National's farmer-mates, so they can suck the rivers dry and fill them with shit, turning them into open sewers and the lakes into giant effluent ponds.

But National didn't just do violence to democracy - they also brutalised the rule of law as well, intervening in the current process to impose a Water Conservation Order on the Hurunui River to remove the decision from the fair and impartial Environment Court and put it in the hands of their crony dictators. The dictators would also gain special rights, existing only in Canterbury, to "vary" existing WCOs to allow farmers to take more water and spew more pollution - a fundamental violation of the purpose of those orders.

Now Labour's Ruth Dyson is proposing to put a stop to that, with a bill to repeal those special provisions and restore the status quo around Water Conservation orders:

A new private member's bill from Labour Party MP Ruth Dyson hopes to address concerns about water conservation orders in Canterbury.


"If it is drawn, and it gets through, it will repeal the section that lets the commissioners intervene in water conservation orders. I hope the National Government will at least let it get to select committee, but I'm not holding my breath."

Hopefully it will be drawn, and the quicker the better. And the same goes for Brendon Burns' democracy restoration bill. The people of Canterbury deserve democracy, and the full protection of the law for their rivers.