Labour slow to restore Canterbury democracy

After slamming the last Government’s sacking of the Canterbury regional council ECan, and of promising to quickly restore democracy, Labour is now in no hurry to act.

Christchurch Labour MP Megan Woods in 2016: ECan legislation an affront to democracy

The Government’s ECan Legislation is an affront to Cantabrians and continues to deny them a democratically elected regional council, says Labour’s Canterbury Spokesperson Megan Woods.

“There is simply no logical, rational or compelling case for a system of regional government in Canterbury that is anti-democratic and radically different from other parts of the country.

“This is not the return to democracy we were promised. This is a continuation of government control.

“It has been six years since the Government sacked the regional council. It is time to put regional governance back where it belongs. That regional governnment has to be in the hands of Cantabrians. There is no justification for controlling Canterbury through appointments made in Wellington.

“I have a Private Members Bill in the ballot to return to a fully elected council at this year’s elections. That Bill stays in the ballot because Labour backs Cantabrians to run their own region,” says Megan Woods.

Labour’s policy on Canterbury (August 2017): Unlocking Potential – Labour’s Plan for Canterbury

Our plan has eight crucial components, each demonstrating Labour’s commitment to get the region moving – and thriving.

Labour will:

  • Restore full democracy to Environment Canterbury

Stuff (November 2017): ECan elections unlikely before 2019

A return to democracy at Environment Canterbury (ECan) appears unlikely before 2019, despite Labour’s long-standing objection to the status quo.

The last Government removed democratically-elected councillors in 2009 and replaced them with seven commissioners the following year.

One of the sacked councillors, Eugenie Sage, is now Minister of Conservation.

Despite promises by former Environment Minister Nick Smith to restore democracy in 2013, it was pushed to 2016. A full return to democracy was delayed again until 2019 – half the current council is elected and half appointed.

During the election campaign, Labour said full elections would be restored “as soon as possible,” but it is understood that is unlikely to happen before 2019, when elections were expected anyway.

Newsroom (today): Labour’s big miss in Canterbury

The Labour-led Government has failed a crucial test in Canterbury.

Despite making an election issue out of a return to full democracy at Canterbury’s regional council, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has confirmed to Newsroom it will follow the last Government’s timetable of waiting until next year’s scheduled local body elections.

That’s little payback for a surge of support for Labour in Christchurch at last year’s election. The decision not to call early elections will disappoint many – including Mahuta’s ministerial colleague Eugenie Sage, who was one of 14 councillors sacked by the National-led Government in 2010, mainly over claims it was mismanaging water.

Labour’s go-slow on Canterbury democracy even leaves it open to a swipe from ex-Environment Minister Nick Smith, who made the National-led Government’s decision, jointly with then Local Government Minister Rodney Hide, to sack councillors at Environment Canterbury (ECan).

Smith, a fading flower in National, says Labour “screamed from the rooftops” in opposition and if it believed the strength of its rhetoric it would have moved to restore a fully elected council. “I think they know, as I did, that a sensible transition through this term of council and full elections in 2019 is actually the right thing for Canterbury.”

After this length of time without an elected regional council it makes sense to restore a democratic body during the Local Body elections next year, but Labour have failed to fulfil their promise. At least they haven’t set up an inquiry on this.

24 Comments

  1. robertguyton

     /  April 16, 2018

    Labour could have done it on their first day in power, eh, Pete!!
    Righties who rant about the time taken by Labour to do this will also rant when it happens.
    Rant, rant, rant.
    Let’s not forget though, it wasn’t Labour that destroyed the democratically-elected regional council of Canterbury. It was National.

    • High Flying Duck

       /  April 16, 2018

      It is Labour that – once again – made promises in opposition that it has back tracked on now it is in power.
      Don’t worry Robert, it is a good thing that they have now decided National were right on…well pretty much everything.

    • David

       /  April 16, 2018

      It was the Greens led by Sage that turned it into a ineffectual mess and no one misses her involvement locally. 6 months in and its not as if they have been busy doing anything else since their 100 day blitz so guess we know where the real position of the left is on local democracy.

      • robertguyton

         /  April 16, 2018

        “6 months in” and the caterwauling from National and her sycophants shows the Government has been very busy and very effective in expunging National’s stains.

        • David

           /  April 16, 2018

          Not complaining at all because they havent changed anything of any great importance, by the time they get around to doing anything there will be another election campaign where nothing happens and there will be change in government and my dream of the Kermadec sanctuary will come true.

          • robertguyton

             /  April 16, 2018

            “Not complaining at all”
            May I quote you, David?

            • robertguyton

               /  April 16, 2018

              “Not complaining at all…about the off-shore exploration announcement?
              Lovely!

          • robertguyton

             /  April 16, 2018

            “Not complaining at all” about the end of irrigation funding?
            Sweet!

            • David

               /  April 16, 2018

              If you want irrigation pay for it yourself so not complaining, offshore drilling not complaining but pointing out how dumb it is to not even attempt to affect demand given the huge global oversupply in fossil fuels. Not complaining about road funding either because Christchurch has its motorway system completed or in progress so the city is a dream to get around now.

  2. David

     /  April 16, 2018

    This is another area where quite a few people are pleased Labour are hopeless. ECAN was a dysfunctional mess and Eugenie Sage was one of the prime movers with her complete inflexibility leading to total gridlock…she doesnt play well with other but she wasnt the only one.
    There is no demand outside a few loopy,s who miss this organisation and if you did hold an election now I doubt you would get 15% turnout for a stand alone election.

    • robertguyton

       /  April 16, 2018

      “There is no demand…”
      Really, David? No demand for democracy in Canterbury?
      How strange the world you inhabit, where you believe there’s “no demand” for democracy.
      Oh! ACT!

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  April 16, 2018

        The thinking person’s party that gives people credit for being able to make their own decisions about what’s best for them (like the charter schools, which are such a success here and worldwide that the Greens and Labour can’t stand it )

  3. PDB

     /  April 16, 2018

    If you want ineptness Eugenie Sage is the person for the job!

    Sacked councilor and now in govt can’t tell the difference between meeting with a man or woman. Just as well there is a left-wing gender quota to fill or else she and Curran would surely be out of a job.

  4. robertguyton

     /  April 16, 2018

    “Slow to restore democracy” beats “destroys democracy” every time.

    • David

       /  April 16, 2018

      Ahh the lefts satisfaction with mediocrity.

      • robertguyton

         /  April 16, 2018

        “lefts”?
        Very mediocre grammar skills there, David.

        • David

           /  April 16, 2018

          Run out of arguments Robert ?

          • robertguyton

             /  April 16, 2018

            Labour slow to restore democracy in Canterbury, National quick to destroy it.
            Will Bridges declare, “National will destroy it again as soon as we get back in power?
            David?

            • David

               /  April 16, 2018

              Who knows what Bridges will do when he is PM in 2 and a bit years time but it was National policy to hold elections with the other local body elections and now that is Green party policy too.

  5. robertguyton

     /  April 16, 2018

    In 2 year’s time, when Bridges is PM, pigs will fly.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  April 16, 2018

      Probably won’t be necessary. It’s unlikely the Red-Greens will have completely destroyed the road network and the transport industry by then.

    • David

       /  April 16, 2018

      Your team will have to really lift their game then, maybe when the waka jumping bill is enacted you can change all your MPs and appoint competent ones then you might have a shot.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  April 16, 2018

        Alan, I can only give you one uptick, as I am not among those who know how to to block-tick, so can you give yourself one for me as a present ?

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