What do you do if you are the Government , all of your economic plans are going to Hell in a Handbasket and much of your predicted GDP growth is predicated on Canterbury staging a mighty recovery ?
Oh, and you would like to ensure that the farming sector that wants to be able to be allowed to continue to use vast quantities of the precious water of the region of Canterbury, can do so...
Well, it's simple, I guess.
You send a very nervous looking Minister of Local Government down to announce that despite the fact that there is no rationale at all to continue Government control of local government you are going to continue to do just that.
The Minister of Local Government, David Carter, and Minister for the Environment Amy Adams, have today announced that Commissioners will continue to lead the regional council until the local government elections in October 2016. Their term had been due to conclude in October 2013.
Unbelievable , actually !
Except sadly it is so believable !
Christchurch , which needs democracy and openness and transparency more than ever , now has no control even over its own central city . Those decisions are made by Government under an organisation called CCDU .Let me give you an example. The City Council , who are at least elected, voted in a major way not to allow a major cricket pavillion in Hagley Park . Hagley Park is highly prized by the people of Christchurch . A few weeks later it is part of the Government's plan for the redevelopment of the Central City , even though one would have thought perhaps housing might rank somewhat above cricket.
The decision just has no rationale to it at all. The Commissioners are doing a good job apparently according to the Government. - so lets forego democracy.So the ratepayers of Canterbury who fund this should apparently just agree. Um - where does that argument stop. If the Government is getting into a mess do we replace them with Commissioners as well?
This is nothing to do with earthquakes, and that was not the reason the Commissioners were put there in the first place...so why are we foregoing elections.
This is not even the recommendations of the Ministry for the Environment and the Department of Internal Affairs. Cabinet has gone against their advice.
The Commissioners should themselves refuse to be part of this but they are busy patting themselves on the back at present .
"Environment Canterbury Commissioners welcome the opportunity to consolidate the gains made in water management and a range of other council functions" they say.
Chair of Commissioners, Dame Margaret Bazley, said " leading Environment Canterbury as it developed a robust framework for water management was one of the most rewarding roles of her career."She was very much looking forward to continuing that work.
Actually , to be blunt Dame Margaret... the point of an elected authority is not to have you feel fulfilled. It needs to be open, transparent and full of all the messiness and noise that is democracy . These are the regions decisions about many things from buses to water allocation. And we are sick of being patronised with statements of how resilient we are. We want control over our lives and our resources. Especially as these are funded from our rates.
Remember that thing about taxation without representation?
The government is relying on the fact that most people are stressed with EQC and insurers, and all the changes they have to cope with, and that nobody put a high value on ECan before.
But this is not on.
CERA has enormous powers, and people would have perhaps accepted that . There is some reason and logic to that.for a short period.
But the Government has now taken over from the City Council in the central city. And has now gone well beyond its decision to abolish ECan for a short term and left Canterbury with no representation on this level of local government . Actually wipe that, its clearly only funded locally ...and administered centrally .