Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Member's Day

Today is the last Member's Day of the year, but it looks like it will be taken up with local business. First off, the government is ramming through its Muldoonist Tasman District Council (Waimea Water Augmentation Scheme) Bill, designed to steal part of a conservation area to enrich farmers. As if that's not controversial enough, they then plan to do the same with the New Plymouth District Council (Waitara Lands) Bill to effectively impose a Treaty settlement against the wishes of local hapu (in other words, to breach the Treaty of Waitangi).

Finally, there's the Canterbury Regional Council (Ngāi Tahu Representation) Bill, which would bypass the usual process for creating Maori wards and electing members and allow Ngāi Tahu to directly appoint two members to the Canterbury Regional Council. Which is both undemocratic - they should be elected, not appointed - and creates serious conflict of interest problems. We'd be horrified at the thought of Fonterra being allowed to appoint members to a council responsible for setting policy around water and pollution, but Ngāi Tahu's dairy investments and ongoing conversions put it in the same boat. I support guaranteed Maori representation on councils, but they should be democraticly elected and proportionate to population. This proposal does not meet either criteria, and it should either be amended so that it does, or rejected.