Rodney Hide has clearly won the upper hand again today with the complete rogering of Environment Canterbury, the regional council. It is to be replaced in coming weeks by 5-7 commissioners headed by the steely veteran Dame Margaret Bazley.
Whereas the rush-job Creech review – chaired by ex Nat deputy Wyatt – suggested only taking water managment off the councillors, today’s announcement will see an end to any democratic decision-making at ECAN for the next 3 and a half years. All the councillors have been sacked, even the new chair, little known former National backbench MP Alec Neill.
Word was from sources close to Nick Smith that the Government wouldn’t go this far as Rodney had already cost the Government big-time with the similar Auckland rort of democratic decision-making.
Today’s announcement violates that fundamental principle upheld by the Right that there should be no taxation (rates) without representation. It axes a democratically-elected body without any public input for the first time at least in recent history. It forces through this bill under urgency from later this afo with no chance for Cantabrians or anyone else to comment. And while it gives the locally-driven Canterbury Water Management Strategy some status there is no legal requirement to adopt its principles . This takes place in a context where the PM has said he wants new water schemes built next year in Canterbury. Nick Smith confirmed today there is no no accompanying legislation to today’s bill to reinforce requirements to improve water quality and environmental outcomes from that new round of water allocation.
Whatever their views on the performance of ECAN on water, many Cantabrians believe that decisions on our water deserve to be made locally and accountably, not by Cabinet appointees .