Friday, January 25, 2013

All about the water

Writing in The Press, former ECan chair Kerry Burke gives us his view of why the elected council was dismissed and replaced by uneelected dictators:

In 2007, four new ECan councillors were elected after campaigning on water issues, shocking the political establishment and planting water firmly within regional politics.

David Carter was one of those worried, making his displeasure known to me about ECan's 2009 proposal to change the Waimakariri River Plan. Perhaps he saw it as a harbinger of a more environmentally-friendly future elected ECan council?

As a new minister Carter told irrigators in Christchurch in December 2008 that "the one thing you need to understand is that you must take the urban community with you".

By April 2010, however, Carter's view had changed completely, threatening all regional councils at the Irrigation NZ Conference: "We had to act [re ECan] because the situation was untenable if we are to seriously make progress in delivering this irrigation. I would have thought what happened recently [re ECan] would be a signal to all regional councillors to work a bit more constructively with their farmer stakeholders."

Irrigation for farmers now took precedence over winning urban support. Democratic ECan was in the way and population trends would inevitably give urban representatives increasing influence over natural resources policy.

And that's basically what it was about: making sure farmers could get their hands on all of Canterbury's water regardless of what voters said. And to achieve that, they revoked democracy in Canterbury, effectively conducting a Fiji-style coup in one of our major regions. It was - and is - deeply, deeply undemocratic. But this priviliging of crony economic interests over democracy is what National is all about. When push comes to shove, they'll chose their money over our democratic rights any day of the week.