Democracy still the loser in Canterbury

The Government has demonstrated once again how arrogant and out of touch it is in denying Cantabrians the same democratic rights as the rest of the country, says Labour’s Environment spokesperson Megan Woods. 

“The Environment Canterbury Bill which has been tabled in the House is remarkable as Treasury, in an independent opinion, has made it clear that there is ‘a clear lack of local support’ for the preferred option.

“Only 16 of the 534 submissions on the Bill supported Nick Smith’s favoured option that will see the Government continue to appoint nearly half the council. 

“The Ministry for the Environment has also warned the Government that there will be ‘inherent tensions ‘ over the dual accountabilities over councillors who will be appointed by the Ministers and the ratepayers who pay for them. 

“The fact that no alternative options were explored and that proposals from stakeholders received limited consideration, suggests that the Bill was a foregone conclusion. 

“Cantabrians should not be denied the right all others New Zealanders possess to elect all members of their Regional Council next year. But the Government refuses. They are closing their ears and ignoring community views and expert advice. This is why I have a Member's Bill in the ballot to restore those rights,” says Megan Woods.