An inexplicable decision

October 8th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

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.

8 Responses to “An inexplicable decision”

  1. MT_Tinman (4,436 comments) says:

    The many people I have talked to about this all say the same thing; The current set-up (the commissioners) works well.

    Instead of criticizing the Government for making a practical decision for the good of all (but a few disgruntled politicians) the rest of NZ should be looking at going the same way, a appointed group of experts making the decisions overseen by the Government who hold the purse-strings.

    I’m reliably informed the E-Can example closely resembles the British model.

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  2. barry (1,234 comments) says:

    However the system as its works in Canterbury uses appointments (not voting) to make up the various boards and committees that control the water in the sub areas.
    The very system that the councillors are complaining about (ie: lack of democracy) is exactly what they use within their own system – if it was operating.

    this is as explained on National radio about 10 minutes ago.

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  3. Lloyd (125 comments) says:

    Look a little closer at the old ECan. It was not a nirvana of democratic wonderment; it was a disfunctional repository of loonies and disfunctional politicos who could not see past their party political agenda to actually work.
    Their nickname locally was “ECan’t”.
    These wonderful elected wombles would do stupid things like set up a nationwide pest-control business, undercut all the operators in the country who were NOT operating with the largesse of my rates $$$ and put them out of business. Then when they lost $1million, this business would be bailed out, again by my rates $$$. They did this for several years in a row. The commissioners shut down this business on day one of their tenure.
    ECan can stay unelected if it means that they actually function, without such financial stupidity (this is not the only example of such economic idiocy, either).
    Politically, it may be bad, but as far as a functioning entity goes, it is an excellent choice.

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  4. flipper (5,339 comments) says:

    Frankly, DPF, outside of the disfunctional Cantab mob, and a few politicofiles, who gives a s*** about ECan.
    AND I for one regard anything signed off by the ex psycho nurse as suspect – ergo the Government did the right thing.

    Move On. Nothing worth worrying about here.

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  5. vibenna (305 comments) says:

    They do seem to be working very well. I bet the trains all run on time.

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  6. backster (2,533 comments) says:

    I agree with others these obscure elected councillors often hide their political philosophy and agenda behind an independent label and the result is wastage and in-action.

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  7. gravedodger (1,707 comments) says:

    So long as serial troughers such as Burke, Anderton, Woods, et al are clamouring for the return of their “entitilitus”, then the Commissioners can continue till the thieving incompetents are all dead, yes I know their will be another bunch with name recognition and labour party connections as their sole entries on their CV, to fill their places. Just think Cosgrove, Dalziel, Dyson with absolutely zero understanding how enterprising businesses create wealth waiting to bring populist BS to bear as interference and procrastination all the while causing mayhem in development and progress.

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  8. GJKiwi (181 comments) says:

    Surely, using the reasoning of backster, gravedodger, et al, we should abolish national elections as well. Everybody knows that dictatorships work best. Look, Mr Hitler did so well, he ensured full employment, built the motorways and got rid of those nasty people nobody wanted in society. Sorry, who asked people outside of Canterbury for their opinion in any case? Are not people such as David Caygill and Maggie Bazley also “serial troughers”? The real reason why the commissioners will continue apace is that David Carter, his family and his constituents, who happen to be a minority in Canterbury, by the way, have water rights interests in North Canterbury, and until his agenda is fulfilled, we won’t see a return to democracy. Ecan implemented the best waste management system in the country, and also a fantastic local transport system. They left water rights up to the resource management act, and due to the very effective opposition to reducing the water flows in North Canterbury rivers advocated by dairying interests, cases were held up in court. Tough on the people like David Carter’s constituency. Lots of us want the water to remain in the water ways, where recreational fishermen, jetboaters, kayakers and swimmers, amongst others, can enjoy it. If there isn’t enough water to run a dairy farm on a North Canterbury dairy farm, that probably means you should be investing in another type of farming.

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