Discontent over this loss of democracy

On Tuesday I was on the steps of Parliament with Christchurch based MPs from Labour and NZ First to deliver an open letter  to the Prime Minister from seven Christchurch groups and the Wizard of New Zealand seeking a restoration of democracy in Canterbury.

The Green Party’s Eugenie Sage and other Christchurch MP’s accept the open letter to John Key

We investigated the decision making around the Government’s suspension of Cantabrians’ right to elect a regional council for six long years. I thought it might be useful to outline the decision timeline based on the sequence of departmental reports to Ministers. Documents released under the Official Information Act (OIA) can be downloaded here.

The big question is why did the Ministers, Amy Adams and David Carter, and Cabinet choose to disregard six months of work and advice from the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), Ministry for the Environment (MfE), and their own hand- picked ECan commissioners saying that there should be elections for ECan in 2013?

  • Starting from 3April 2012 all papers released by the agencies favour having a mix of commissioners and elected councillors.
  • 11June :  DIA and MfE point out that “the right of electors to democratically elect accountable representatives is a fundamental principle of governance.”
  • 1August:  the Government wrote off the idea of having only commissioners saying, about this option:  “Key cost: limited opportunity for local democratic decision-making. Benefits (minor): Responds to time critical need to set arrangements for Canterbury, but the scale of intervention could be excessive.”
  • 3August : paper  again confirms  mixed commissioners and elected councillors as the only option and said that this would be discussed at Cabinet on  6 August.
  • 30 August : the option has been changed to extending commissioners with no elected councillors. The Bill was introduced into the house 7 days later.

The Ministers claimed that the need for “stable, efficient and effective” governance was the reason Commissioners should continue and there will be no vote for Environment Canterbury in 2013.  I believe it has more to do with Government not trusting Cantabrians to elect a regional council that would promote Government’s irrigation development agenda.

6 thoughts on “Discontent over this loss of democracy

  1. Indeed Kerry
    1 day of democracy, followed by three years of a (hopefully benign,) democracy.

    It’s a terrible system, but other than having six plebescites a day I can’t think of a better one. Can you?

  2. How many elected politicians does it take to serve a population of 4 million people?

    I don’t know the answer, but I do know of 52 mayors who serve populations larger than that of New Zealand
    :-
    Rank by size
    City, Country
    City Population
    Metro Population
    Name of Mayor
    1
    Karachi Pakistan
    15,500,000
    18,000,000
    Fazlur Rehman
    2
    Shanghai China
    14,900,000
    19,200,000
    Han Zheng
    3
    Mumbai (Bombay) India
    13,900,000
    21,200,000
    Shraddha Jadhav
    4
    BEIJING China
    12,460,000
    17,550,000
    Guo Jinlong
    5
    DELHI India
    12,100,000
    16,713,000
    Kanwar Sain
    6
    BUENOS AIRES Argentina
    11,655,000
    12,924,000
    Mauricio Macri
    7
    MANILA METRO Philippines
    11,550,000
    13,503,000
    Alfredo S Lim
    8
    SEOUL South Korea
    11,153,000
    24,472,000
    Oh Se-hoon
    9
    Sao Paulo Brazil
    11,038,000
    19,890,000
    Gilberto Kassab
    10
    MOSCOW Russia
    10,524,000
    14,800,000
    Sergei Sobyanin
    11
    JAKARTA Indonesia
    10,100,000
    24,100,000
    Fauzi Bowo
    12
    Istanbul Turkey
    9,560,000
    12,600,000
    Kadir Topbas
    13
    BANGKOK Thailand
    9,100,000
    11,970,000
    Sukhumbhand Paribatra
    14
    MEXICO CITY Mexico
    8,841,000
    21,163,000
    Marcelo Ebrard
    15
    TOKYO Japan
    8,653,000
    31,036,000
    Shintaro Ishihara
    16
    TEHRAN Iran
    8,430,000
    13,450,000
    Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf
    17
    New York City USA
    8,364,000
    20,090,000
    Michael Bloomberg
    18
    KINSHASA Congo D.R.
    8,200,000
    10,100,000
    André Kimbuta Yango
    19
    DHAKA Bangladesh
    7,940,000
    12,797,000
    Sadeque Hossain Khosa
    20
    Lagos Nigeria
    7,938,000
    9,123,000
    Babatunde Raji Fashola
    21
    CAIRO Egypt
    7,764,000
    15,546,000
    Abdul Azim Wazir
    22
    LIMA Peru
    7,606,000
    8,473,000
    Susana Villaran
    23
    LONDON UK
    7,557,000
    12,200,000
    Boris Johnson
    24
    Tianjin China
    7,500,000
    11,750,000
    Huang Xingguo
    25
    BOGOTA Colombia
    7,320,000
    8,361,000
    Samuel Moreno Rojas
    26
    Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam
    7,100,000
    Pham Phuong Thao
    27
    Hong Kong China
    7,055,000
    Donald Tsang
    28
    Guangzhou China
    6,458,000
    10,182,000
    Wan Qingliang
    29
    Dongguan China
    6,446,000
    7,650,000
    Li Yuquan
    30
    Lahore Pakistan
    6,100,000
    8,600,000
    Mian Amir Mahmood
    31
    Rio de Janeiro Brazil
    6,093,000
    14,387,000
    Eduardo Paes
    32
    Baghdad Iraq
    6,050,000
    6,500,000
    Sabir al-Issawi
    33
    Bangalore India
    5,840,000
    6,562,000
    SK Nataraj
    34
    Surat India
    5,390,000
    6,347,000
    Rajendra Desai
    35
    SANTIAGO Chile
    5,278,000
    6,677,000
    Pablo Zalaquett Said
    36
    Kolkata India
    5,100,000
    15,420,000
    Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya
    37
    Shenyang China
    5,090,000
    7,760,000
    Li Yingjie
    38
    Chongqing China
    5,087,000
    9,700,000
    Huang Qifan
    39
    SINGAPORE Singapore
    4,988,000
    Lee Hsien Loong
    40
    RIYADH Saudi Arabia
    4,950,000
    5,855,000
    Abdul Aziz ibn ‘Ayyaf Al Migrin
    41
    LUANDA Angola
    4,799,000
    5,500,000
    José Maria Ferraz dos Santos
    42
    Harbin China
    4,755,000
    9,874,000
    Zhang Xiaolian
    43
    St Petersburg Russia
    4,661,000
    4,900,000
    Valentina Matviyenko
    44
    Chennai India
    4,600,000
    7,330,000
    M Subramaniam
    45
    Ahmadabad India
    4,525,000
    6,168,000
    Kanaji Thakor
    46
    Wuhan China
    4,500,000
    6,200,000
    Ruan Chengfa
    47
    Yangon Myanmar (Burma)
    4,468,000
    5.500,000
    Aung Thein Lynn
    48
    Sydney Australia
    4,400,000
    Clover Moore
    49
    Chengdu China
    4,334,000
    11,000,000
    Ge Honglin
    50
    Shenzhen China
    4,320,000
    8,616,000
    Xy Qin
    51
    Nanjing China
    4,150,000
    7,600,000
    Ji Jianye
    52
    Alexandria Egypt
    4,110,000
    4,350,000
    Adel Labib

  3. This ECAN, you mean?

    “Canterbury council leaders attacked Environment Canterbury (ECan) as “zealot-driven”, “vindictive and spiteful” and “operationally, a rudderless ship” in a review of the regional council’s performance. …

    Timaru District Mayor Janie Annear told reviewers that ECan had a lack of knowledge beyond Christchurch and a lack of rural understanding.

    “Some [regional] councillors have said `rural New Zealand are the sewers of New Zealand’,” she said.”

    The government was wise to step in. Ecan were clearly dysfunctional.

  4. When we see the extent of the changes to the Local Government Act, we will understand why National has thwarted the return to democracy in Canterbury. I’m talking amalgamations.

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