A permanent dictatorship in Canterbury

Written By: - Date published: 2:18 pm, June 12th, 2012 - 38 comments
Categories: democracy under attack, Environment, national, water - Tags: , , ,

NRT on the situation in Canterbury:

When the government dismissed the elected councillors of Environment Canterbury, suspended elections, and replaced them with a clique of unelected dictators, they assured us that it was only a temporary measure. Once ECan’s internal administrative divisions were resolved, elections would be held again, and normality restored – in 2013 at the latest.

Of course, they lied. Firstly, the move wasn’t so much about internal administrative problems as ECan making decisions on water that National and its farmer-cronies didn’t like. And secondly, they’re not planning on returning power to the people anytime soon:

Former environment minister Nick Smith says Canterbury doesn’t need another dysfunctional elected body making decisions about the region’s important water resources. As a cabinet minister, he sacked elected Environment Canterbury councillors and replaced them with commissioners.When their term expires next year, he hopes they will be replaced by a mixed council of elected and Government-appointed representatives.

In Ashburton on Thursday at a Federated Farmers water forum, he said there were some big water decisions ahead of Canterbury, including bulk storage and tapping into alpine rivers protected by Water Conservation Orders.

He said a fully-elected regional council making those decisions would result in the same “dog’s breakfast” left by the previous council, with views polarised into urban and rural camps.

…and might act on the views of the majority of their voters, who want cleaner waterways, rather than those of National and farmers, who want to fill them with shit. And we can’t be having that now, can we? So, the democratic right of Cantabrians must be overridden and undermined to ensure that National’s farmer-cronies can keep on polluting.

Just another example of how this is an undemocratic, authoritarian government which does not respect the democratic rights of its citizens.

38 comments on “A permanent dictatorship in Canterbury”

  1. grumpy 1

    Bullshit. ECAN was just taken over by a bunch of failed ex Labour MPs, aspiring Green MPs and activist staff.

    They subverted the interests of Canterbury to their own political beliefs and imposed them on the whole region.

    Not only water, to which they were particularly hostile but also the so-called Clean air bullshit which is now causing hardship to those affected by the earthquake.

    • Kotahi Tane Huna 1.1

      “Taken over” – you mean they were elected? Fucking cry baby.

      • grumpy 1.1.1

        That is the weakness of the system, a frighteningly low turnout meant that ECAN could never claim to be truely “elected”. In fact it was the takeover by activist staff that led to ECAN’s downfall.

        • McFlock

          So farmers were too stupid to vote, didn’t like the outcome of democracy, whined like bitches to their national MPs who then kicked out democracy?
          What a golden age we live in /sarc 

        • Kotahi Tane Huna

          “The weakness of the system” – what? That your candidate couldn’t get elected even with a low turnout? Fucking cry baby.

          • grumpy

            ….and….you have the gall to criticise National…………….just accept what the voters decision was. See you after the next election.

            • Kotahi Tane Huna

              Try again – you aren’t opposing the policy of elected members – you’re whining that they were elected at all, and then you have the cry-baby hypocrisy to accuse others of not accepting the voters’ decision after the scum you support denied the democratic process.

              Am I suggesting that these scum be forcibly removed from office? Not yet.

        • bbfloyd

          “could never claim to be truly elected”…. neither can the national government if that is the measure of legitimacy…..that is, if you are telling the truth(debatable)

          “Lowest voter turnout in a general election ever in 2011″…. i guess that means we have no legitimate government at present…..

          Someone call the police quick! they need to arrest john (sparkles) key for impersonating a prime minister!! and throw in fraud for taking his salary under false pretenses….

        • Rich

          Everyone’s allowed to vote. If you don’t, that means you’re agreeing with whatever the people that do vote decide.

          Mid you, I think this is a great precedent for a future left-wing government to sack National MPs and appoint alternates.

          • vto

            Rich “If you don’t, that means you’re agreeing with whatever the people that do vote decide.”

            Never in the history of manwomankind has more shit been spoken in fewer words.

            • mike

              “If you don’t, that means you’re agreeing with whatever the people that do vote decide.” That’s right, you must agree. If you disagreed you’d vote. You can’t unagree. If not voting means you don’t care, then you don’t care. Moaning isn’t voting, and only voting counts

              • vto

                If someone doesn’t vote it means that they don’t agree with what the voters do.

                How on earth can it mean anything else? That’s just loony thinking.

          • grumpy

            Following that logic, must be time to shut this site down then……

      • grumpy 1.1.2

        So, one rule for “local” and another for “national” elections eh?

        • Kotahi Tane Huna

          Are you always this witless and incoherent?

          I want the same rules for local as national, unlike you.

          • grumpy

            You really have no idea at all about ECAN – eh?

            The problem was that, alone of all Regional councils, ECAN did not have a Water Policy. Activist staff, working with SOME councillors were actively subverting ECAN’s own policies to the extent that major Environment Court cases were lost. A minority of councillors in cahoots with activist staff is not democracy.

            The ECAN Council were unable to do their job – any Government would have acted the same. I understand Labour had already made threats along those lines.

            • Kotahi Tane Huna

              No. Labour had got some way towards setting up a commission of inquiry. There were many responses available to the situation, the National Party chose the least democratic, least consultative one. Further, the competing pressures on water have not gone away just because the fox has been let into the chicken coop, merely shuffled off into the too hard basket.

              • grumpy

                So, how many farmers have been given irrigation consent by the commissioners who would not have got them under the old regime?

    • fatty 1.2

      “They subverted the interests of Canterbury to their own political beliefs and imposed them on the whole region.”

      Damn hippies…imposing their demands of clean water onto good average Kiwis. Its as if they think water is a need.

      “Not only water, to which they were particularly hostile but also the so-called Clean air bullshit which is now causing hardship to those affected by the earthquake.”

      Yeah, first its water, then air. Political correctness gone mad eh Grumpy?
      No wonder the National Party freedom fighters relieved us of these dictators.

  2. mac1 2

    “another dysfunctional elected body making decisions about the region’s important water resources.’

    Cabinet Minister referring to Cabinet?

    A democratically elected body like Cabinet which does not practice democracy is definitely dysfunctional.

  3. Carol 3

    Worth checking out Lianne Dalzeil’s speech on the budget just now. She talked about leaflets from the National Government/Party to her electorate about the CERA arrangements. At the bottom of the form there’s an optional mini-survey asking about which political party they usually vote for. Plus there’s a statement about visiting the MP in other National held electorates for advice.

    • mike e 3.1

      National are painting themselves into a corner on this one as more news is coming out on EQC’s and private insurers nasty behaviour towards claimants.
      Gerry wind bag Brownosely promised to get tough on Insurance companies not playing fair

  4. Dr Terry 4

    I become more sorry for Canterbury by the day. Not only is “progress” possibly deliberately stalled by government interference, this “dictatorship” is likely to be almost worse than the ‘quake itself! But let’s look at the whole picture, has not the entire country been subjected to “a permanent dictatorship” since 2008?

    • Populuxe1 4.1

      As you are (I presume) not here in Canterbury, I do not know how you can claim “this “dictatorship” is likely to be almost worse than the ‘quake itself!” It’s actually quite offensive given that the earthquake killed 185 people, which though incredibly inconvenient, annoying, angering and undemocratic, CERA shows no signs of doing so far.
      And no, the entire country has not “been subjected to “a permanent dictatorship” since 2008” – “permanent dictatorships” look like Syria whereas the Nats were voted in and will be voted out, and while they have little compulsion in abusing their power, there are still fundamental constitutional limits to what they can do. For example, as far as I’m aware no parents and teachers were gunned down for protesting against class size increases and the government was forced to back down.
      For the sake of people suffering and dying in genuine dictatorships (not merely countries badly mismanaged by dickheads) please dial back the hyperbole. It’s hurtful.

      • vto 4.1.1

        Mr Populuxe, I don’t know if you need brutality to define a dictatorship. CERA and Ecan legislation clearly outlines a dictatorship, within the NZ democratic parameters as they are.

        And yep, aint nothing to compare with a lifetime of quakes. How were the two yesterday? FFS, all we need to disturb the family settlements… things continue to drain away …

      • Rodel 4.1.2

        you have a point. be good if people could debate without exaggeration.

        • fatty

          “you have a point. be good if people could debate without exaggeration.”

          True, but Populuxe1 is just as guilty of the exaggeration that she/he is pointing out. Just cause we don’t have people being ‘gunned down’ by the authorities in Canterbury does not a mean there is not a dictatorship.

          “I do not know how you can claim “this “dictatorship” is likely to be almost worse than the ‘quake itself! It’s actually quite offensive given that the earthquake killed 185 people, which though incredibly inconvenient, annoying, angering and undemocratic, CERA shows no signs of doing so far.”

          Dr Terry is right…I can quite easily claim that our leaders are worse than the earthquake, simply because the earthquake was not created by us, it was a freak of nature. Shocking and devastating, but I can accept the ground moving under my feet because there is no way to stop it. What I cannot accept is when homelessness, poverty and suffering is created through human greed, selfishness, corporatisation and stupidity..that’s far worse than an earthquake

  5. vto 5

    If we don’t get elections in 2013 then we have a military dictatorship exactly like Fiji.

  6. BernyD 6

    The whole country should go on strike until they resign.
    Take The Power Back!

  7. GP 7

    As someone who lives in Canterbury, I fear NRT might have taken what Nick Smith said out of context by quoting a few lines from the ashburton guardian.
    I was at the forum last week and the impression I got was that the government appointees would be a minority of the governance and certainly wouldn’t dominate. He wanted this mixed model in an effort to prevent the polarisation between urban and rural councillors which made that council so dysfunctional. I think the devil will be in the detail of that, which is yet to be released.
    Green MP Eugenie Sage was there and didn’t dismiss this mixed model out of hand. She basically said it could have merits if those appointees bought scientific and technical expertise to the table but rightly pointed out that they should not be the majority of councillors. I see NRT didn’t mention that but then again, that wouldn’t fit his/her’s argument of those evil Nats taking over Canterbury.
    Slightly off topic but if NRT bothered to do some research he/she would have learned that ECan’s land and water plan was also explained by an ECan official at the forum.
    Briefly it said that after July 1, 2017 farmers will have to farm to look-up tables that define industry best practise otherwise they will need a conent to farm. Nutrient limits will also be set by the zone committees under the canterbury water management strategy, allowing community involvement.
    There seemed to be an acceptance by the farmers there that this was how it was going to be and they best get on with it. Anyway, hopefully that gives you all a little more info on what was actually said.

  8. It’s not the government’s responsibility to decide whether ECan is dysfunctional or not- it was a legitimate legal body that was elected. If they really thought that ECan were making dangerous decisions, they needed to pass national-level regulations that prevented them from doing so and mandated implementation of best practices in local government that would stop them. That is the proper way that a democracy is supposed to work if a local body oversteps its authority or starts passing crazy laws- the body above it smacks it down with a national ban on that sort of behaviour, and if they start whining, the bigger guy can show the evidence to the public and win in the court of public opinion.

    Of course they can’t actually do that, because anyone with a brain would realise that this legislation would be a crony deal for irresponsible dairy farmers, and other people who want to abuse the nation’s (and in particular Canterbury’s) water supply, and have nothing to do with dysfunctional councils making dangerous or irresponsible decisions. So they make this sound like an issue of personality politics, and because the media was still in their pocket at the time, they got away with it. One of the big things either the Greens or Labour should be hammering National on is immediately returning full local democracy to Canterbury, and passing national water standards that would limit industrial irrigation and water use to at least the realm of sanity, if not actually something fair and reasonable.

    • vto 8.1

      That’s right.

      Sacking Ecan was solely about letting the farmers get their greedy little hands on water.

      Nothing else.

      • grumpy 8.1.1

        Bullshit, nothing has changed for farmers since the ECAN sacking. Farmers were always OK with the ECAN water rules, flow and nutrient monitoring etc. It was just that ECAN staff, encouraged by a few influential ECAN councillors, refused to abide by their OWN rules – this has already been extensively covered.
        Fortunately most of those staff activists have now been removed. It is also true that the Govt’s move to sack ECAN came just before a legal action for malfeasance was to be bought against individual staff. Any government would have acted the same way.

        • vto

          Hi grumpy. That is I guess one view.

          Farmers get a pretty hard time these days over the effect farming has had on the environment and over farmers currently insatiable appetite for more water and dairy.

          You’re a farmer I seem to recall, or were. What do you think of current sentiment over these two issues?

          • grumpy

            Hi vto, I have been watching your slow descent to the dark side over the last few years – a sort of Stockholm Syndrome 🙂

            The issue at the time with ECAN was not really about the councillors but that SOME councillors were working with activist staff to obstruct ECAN’s own policies.

            The Wild West that resulted from a dysfunctional ECAN (every Environment Court action taken against ECAN for more water by dairy farmers was won) led to water rights being given when perhaps they would not have if ECAN actually had the Water extraction policy they were supposed to have come up with years ago but didn’t because of the above dysfunctional nature.

            Personally, I believe that dairy farming on Canterbury has reached the point where, in a NORMAL year, Canterbury cannot grow enough feed to make it sustainable. As you know we have not had a “normal’ year for some time and good growth has let dairy farmers off the hook. also, aquifers appear higher after the September 2010 earthquake, probably due to non production aquifers collapsing and higher, productive aquifers consequently carrying more water.

            Most farmers now believe that dairy farming in Canterbury has reached it’s peak. The future for Canterbury is irrigated arable production – that is a much more efficient and profitable producer of food than dairy.

            I also believe that the average Canterbury dairy farmer (now usually absentee) should not be mentionede in the same breath as the old dryland farmers.

            Hope than sort of answers your question.

            • vto

              Hmmm, I’m sure you are right about most of that (but not the Ecan bits, there are a whole bunch of other sides to that). I completely agree re arable production given that more people can live off plants than animals per square area. I see most all east coast areas where there is irrigation slowly being turned over to wine, olives, wheat, parsley, oats, kiwifruit, mandarins, weetbix and all other manner of plants as years pass. It simply supports more people.

              As for stockholm syndrome, well perhaps, but mine vote has swung around couple times over the centuries and currently it is very heavily anti the current rightish thinking, policies and especially practices. I just think it has reached a kind of end-point and needs some dramatic revision. The bulk of it is no longer applicable.

  9. I can’t wait for 2014 when we have a Labour/Green coalition who will be able to take ECAN, and so many others to the cleaners, and reorganise everything to their own wishes.
    They will have a mammoth task ahead, and should be planning now.

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