Environment Canterbury (ECan) commissioners warned the Government that Christchurch’s earthquake recovery should not be used as an excuse to suspend democracy, documents reveal.
Last month, Local Government Minister David Carter and Environment Minister Amy Adams said ECan elections would not be held until 2016, despite a Government promise to hold regional council elections next year.
Instead, a ministerial review of ECan’s governance arrangements will be held in 2014.
Government-appointed commissioners have been in charge of the regional council since democratically elected councillors were sacked early in 2010.
This went against a recommendation at the end of July by the Internal Affairs Department and the Environment Ministry to establish a transitional body made up of elected councillors and government-appointed members, which would be subject to ministerial review by 2017.
At the time, Carter said one of the main reasons the commissioners’ terms were extended was because the Government did not want to disrupt the progress the commissioners had made.
“We weren’t prepared to put that progress [in jeopardy].”
However, in an April letter to Carter, released to The Press under the Official Information Act, ECan chairwoman Dame Margaret Bazley backed the mixed model. She wrote the proposal for a mixed-model was based on the commissioners’ experiences, learning and observations.
As I have said previously I think the Government has made the wrong decision here. When not even the Commissioners have said a totally appointed Council should continue, then why is the Government persisting? It’s wrong in principle and it’s wring politically.
The Government should agree to amend the bill so that there are elections n 2013 for ECan.
It recommended a mixed-governance model of six to eight elected member plus four to six Government-appointed members as the “most appropriate solution”.
A majority of elected is appropriate.