Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The people of Christchurch deserve better than this

Last night I commented on the government's draconian Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Bill, and noted that I would have liked to submit on it. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to put together anything in time, but legal academic Dean Knight was. You can read his verdict here. Its not particularly favourable.

Dean was fortunate enough to have someone duck into parliament last night to hand his bill directly to the committee. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely they will be receiving any other similar submissions - "the Committee is not generally accepting other unsolicited submissions on the Bill". Only insiders get to comment. And some of them are not happy about this process:

Mayor Bob Parker and Cr Yani Johanson said they found out about the [select committee] meeting yesterday.

Johanson said it was "outrageous" that he was told at such short notice – by a community board member who had heard the news in a media report.

"I am just shocked that they didn't tell the councillors, and we haven't been invited."

Councillors had not been given a draft of the bill.

"It's a real concern if this is the respect they are going to show the council and the community, by doing things in secret and not being upfront and open," he said. "It doesn't bode well for the future."

This is a complicated bill with long-lasting effects which will affect people's local-body democratic rights for a significant amount of time. It needs time for a proper analysis, and it needs time for the Christchurch City Council to be able to advocate properly for the interests of the people it represents. Instead, its being Brownleed - rammed through, with only a show of consultation. The people of Christchurch deserve better.