Environment Canterbury

From the House:

Amy Adams: What progress has been made on Environment Canterbury’s appalling record of resource consent processing, which saw it rated as the worst council in the country in the 2007-08 year?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: In that year Environment Canterbury processed only 29 percent of consents within the statutory time frames. The latest report shows that there has been a dramatic improvement. Within the last year 92 percent of resource consents have been processed on time. This improvement from 29 percent, when Labour was in Government, to 92 percent now is a real credit to the work of the commissioners and their staff. It is a relief for the thousands of homeowners, businesses, and farmers who have previously been held up by poor processes. With the rebuild of Canterbury it is particularly important that we have efficient resource consent processing, so that we can rebuild Canterbury.

Idiot/Savant blogs at No Right Turn:

Or, to put it another way, turning Canterbury into a dictatorship made the trains (or rather the RMA) run on time. A certain short Italian used the same “justification” for taking over Italy; it wasn’t acceptable then, and its not acceptable now. Government is not about efficiency; it is about control. And one thing is clear: the people of Canterbury now no longer control their regional council.

I disagree. The failures of Environment Canterbury were far more than the trains not running on time. A train operator is not required by law to have the trains run on time.

However Environment Canterbury were required by law to process consents within a statutory time-frame. They failed miserably. Not for one year or two years but for  a decade. Even after ten years they could not produce a water plan.

NZ is a nation of laws. The Government is bound by the law. So are Councils. If a Council year after year is so incompetent it can not meet statutory deadlines, then it is entirely appropriate that the Government sack it for incompetence. This has happened for various School Boards and even territorial authorities in the past.

I support local government being required to obey the law. And I support the sacking of local government bodies when they fail year after year after year in meeting their legal obligations, or even coming close.

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