After years of simmering regional resentment of Environment Canterbury (ECan), the axe finally fell on its 14 councillors yesterday.
Despite a last ditch attempt by a majority of them to salvage their jobs through a face-saving compromise, they will be replaced by commissioners headed by public service trouble-shooter Dame Margaret Bazley.
Considering the drastic nature of this intervention, the Government acted relatively quickly following the damning report of the working party headed by former National deputy prime minister Wyatt Creech.
This speed was commendable, as it provides some certainty over ECan’s future. In turn, Environment Minister Nick Smith, often considered slightly erratic, deserves plaudits for the manner in which he consulted regional interests.
Ultimately the Government had little choice but to act decisively.
It speaks volumes that even the local newspaper is supporting the sacking. It is a pity Labour ad Greens are politicising it, when in the past more responsible Oppositions have supported similar actions, when a Council becomes dysfunctional.
And the ODT:
Comparisons between the actions of Fiji’s Frank Bainimarama “to solve Fiji’s” intractable problems and that of the present New Zealand Government to deal with the “institutional failure” of the Canterbury Regional Council (ECan) are inevitable. …
All the Canterbury district mayors, themselves democratically elected, had had enough of “dysfunctional” Ecan.
The regional council has had major problems since the mid-1990s at least, and it has failed time and time again to produce required water plans. Dissatisfaction is deep and widespread, and the Government’s review panel into ECan was unprecedented in its criticism.
Because matters were irrevocably and irreversibly broken down, temporary patch-ups would not work. …
Given the emphatic nature of the respected review team’s report, the Government would appear to have had little choice but to enact a selection of its central recommendations. …
Umm, no such comparisons are not inevitable, and I’ve not heard anyone but the ODT make them. In case they overlooked an essential aspect, one was a coup carried out at gunpoint, and the other is a democratically elected Government passing a law to put in place some Commissioners for one out of 14 Regional Councils, at the request of the democratically elected local territorial authorities who had lost confidence in it.
There would be no point in Andrew Williams relinquishing the North Shore mayoralty over allegations that he urinated in public and drove home after drinking at a Takapuna restaurant.
With the introduction of the Super City imminent, a resignation would be a pointless distraction.
Nonetheless, the episode that prompted calls for him to step down, with several previous incidents, cast a considerable shadow over his plan, announced yesterday, to stand for an unspecified position on the Auckland Council.
Indeed, it suggests that one of the benefits of the Super City will be the demise of local-body mayors of his ilk.
Mr Williams has sought to explain away such occurrences with talk, variously, of being on painkillers, of suffering from dehydration and of exhaustion from an overseas trip. This is unpersuasive.
A polite way of putting it.
And the Dominion Post reviews the coroner’s report into the OPC tragedy:
Tags: Andrew Williams, Canterbury Regional Council, Dominion Post, editorials, NZ Herald, ODT, The Press
However, the tragedy is not a reason to deny other pupils adventure. As Mr Devonport says in his findings, taking risks and experiencing the outdoors is a part of growing up. That is particularly so in New Zealand with its mountains, rivers, forests and wide-open spaces. Children, teenagers and, for that matter, adults should be able to test themselves, whether it be by climbing trees, riding skateboards, scaling mountains or scrambling up stream beds wearing wetsuits, helmets and life vests. Life should not be lived in a glass bubble.
But providers of outdoor experiences have a duty to ensure all reasonable precautions are taken. The Outdoor Pursuits Centre failed abysmally to do that. Its staff did not pay enough attention to heavy rainfall in the gorge’s catchment area. …
The Mangatepopo Stream tragedy was a preventable tragedy. The lesson that should be taken from it is not that pupils should be denied adventure, but that those organising the adventure should take every possible step to reduce the danger to acceptable levels.