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Greens: Stripping Canterbury Of Local Democracy

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

John Key's Government has taken extreme and unnecessary steps in its sacking of Environment Canterbury (ECan), the Green Party said today.

"This government has stripped Canterbury of local democracy," said Green Party Co-leader Russel Norman. "Out of all the options presented in the Creech report this is the most extreme. It leaves Canterbury's water in the hands of National's hand picked board appointees. This is extremely dangerous given John Key's repeated pro-irrigation statements," said Dr Norman.

Minister of Environment Nick Smith today introduced legislation to the House under urgency which will sack ECan in favour of an appointed board headed by Dame Margaret Bazley.

Green Party Local government spokesperson Sue Kedgley said, "By sacking an elected Regional Council and replacing it by unelected and unaccountable political appointees Nick Smith has effectively committed a bloodless coup d'tat.

"The rushed process of pushing this through under urgency is even worse than the Auckland Super City - at least that legislation went through select committee," Ms Kedgley said.

Dr Norman asked, "Will Cantabrians get elections before Fiji?"

"We will be watching who Mr Smith appoints to see if it is stacked with National Party favourites," said Dr Norman.

The board will serve until either its work is finished or October 2013. The legislation contains no terms of reference and allows the board to short circuit two steps in the water conservation orders.

"We mustn't lose sight of the environmental issues in Canterbury, especially water usage," said Dr Norman.

"Eighty percent of ECan's work is water issues.

The Government also proposes to hand over the decision on whether the Hurunui River should be protected by a Water Conservation Order to the Commissioners. "The Hurunui River is one of the last great wild rivers on the East Coast of the South Island.

"John Key's Government will take the decision on Hurunui's water conservation order away from the Environment Court and give it to unelected National Party-appointed Commissioners.

"It is an incredible abuse of the judicial process to stop water conservation orders going to the Environment Court.

"The Commissioners will also have the power to introduce a moratorium on new water takes, which is a positive move if the Commissioners actually use the power," said Dr Norman.

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