Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A permanent dictatorship in Canterbury?

When the National government disestablished the democratically elected Environment Canterbury and replaced it with a clique of hand-picked dictators, there was at least one consolation: the dictatorship would eventually pass. As drafted, the dictatorship eventually expires, at the latest at the 2013 local body elections.

Now, Nick Smith is hinting that that may not be the case. The Timaru Herald reports that Smith is refusing to commit to an elected ECan in the future:

The Government will "canvass a number of options" on Environment Canterbury's future structure, Environment Minister Nick Smith said yesterday.


Dr Smith told the Herald the performance was a "huge improvement", but stopped short of saying ECan would eventually return to having an elected council.

"There's an important decision that needs to be made about the future of ECan," Dr Smith said.

"The Government is committed to consulting with the people of Canterbury about a number of options that are available to us."


Dr Smith said the prospect of a specially created Canterbury water authority, as suggested in the report by former deputy prime minister Wyatt Creech, or a board with a "mixture of appointed and elected people", were two of the possibilities.

So, we may be looking at a permanent dictatorship in Canterbury, or at the least a massive decrease in democratic control. And all because the people of Canterbury (and specifically Christchurch, where the people of Canterbury actually live) looked like they would vote for the "wrong" things: cleaner rivers, restrictions on irrigation, safe drinking water. It speaks volumes about Smith, and National, that their response is to take people's votes off them rather than respect their democratic decisions.