Not content with turning Auckland into a dictatorship to prepare it for National’s Wellington-imposed gerrymander, the government is now planning a wider assault on local government democracy, with Environment Minister Nick Smith threatening to appoint administrators to run eight councils if they don’t improve their handling of resource consents.
The Minister certainly has this power (the relevant section is s25 of the RMA), but it has never been used, and for obvious reasons. Local authorities are democratically elected and accountable to the people. Replacing them, even in the area of resource consent planning and processing, with an unelected administrator removes that accountability. It silences local voices and crushes local democracy. And that is simply not acceptable in a democratic society.
I always enjoy having a diehard supporter of the Electoral Finance Act talk about silencing voices and crushing democracy. I mean really.
Nowhere in the rant does Idiot/Savant offer any criticism of the Councils for the reason they are being threatened with Administrators. It is because they are consistently breaking the law and failing to process resource consents in time. Local bodies are not above the law, and frankly it would be a good thing for them to suffer consequences for sticking it to everday residents by not processing resource conensts within the time frame set out in law. This is not crushing local democracy – this is ensuring local Councils are not above the law.
Also NRT fails to grasp that the Minister has not appointed Administrators. He is using his power to do so as a threat, so that they improve their performance and start obeying the law. This is a good thing.