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Govt fails to trust Cantabrians with democracy

The Government needs to trust the people of Canterbury and return a fully elected, democratic regional council in Canterbury immediately, the Green Party said today.

In today’s announcement about the regional council’s future the National Government failed to restore democracy and a fully elected Environment Canterbury Regional Council (ECan). It once again postponed the return of a fully elected council, this time until 2019.


“National doesn't trust the people of Canterbury to elect councillors to act in the best interests of the region,” Green Party Christchurch spokesperson, Eugenie Sage said today.

“National may not like people who get elected to local government, or agree with their views, but that’s not an excuse for crushing local democracy as it is doing by handpicking six ECan members.


“Democracy is our greatest asset yet National is denying Cantabrians a proper vote for almost a decade.  Citizens deserve more than the second class council they are getting which the Government can continue to influence and dominate.


“In 2010 Christchurch had eight regional councillors in the former 14 member elected council. 


“Under National’s current plan it will have four, halving the democratic representation of the city which provides most of ECan’s funding.


“National can’t get rid of the Mayor of Auckland because of his position on the city rail link, or the mayor of Wellington because she’s an advocate for cycleways, so it shouldn’t stymie democracy in Canterbury.


“Regional democracy in Canterbury was subverted by National in 2010 to facilitate more irrigation development, and thus more water pollution


“The fact the Government hasn’t restored regional democracy, as the Minister for the Environment, Nick Smith stated it would back in 2010, is a broken promise.

“When there was a fully elected regional council there was far more responsiveness to public concerns about the health and state of Canterbury’s waterways, biodiversity and natural environment.

“It is time for the National Government to trust the people of Canterbury to elect competent councillors and for these councillors to represent citizens in managing the region’s transport planning, water, air, coast, and natural hazards,” said Ms Sage.