Reprinted with permission from No Right Turn.
The government has announced its dictators for Canterbury. Besides Margaret Bazley, the list is mostly grey technocrats (including former finance minister David Caygill), though they do have a dairy farmer
and a token environmentalist. Apart from Bazley, all are men. “Jobs for the boys” has a literal meaning under National.
The dictators will be paid $900 each a day, with Bazley getting $1,400. The existing councillors get about $52,000 a year, or about $200 / day. Even allowing for the fact that the number of people being paid has halved, the people of Canterbury will be paying more than twice as much for a group of representatives who were not elected by them, not accountable to them, and have no democratic mandate.
The government has also released the terms of reference [PDF] for the dictatorship. These are fairly broad and vague, with much of the detail to come in a letter later (which hopefully people will OIA), but one bit is of immediate concern:
The Commissioners will be responsible for the timely consideration of applications for amendments to water conservation orders and any applications for new water conservation orders in the Canterbury region.
So, their chief job is to gut existing WCOs and give the water away to farmers. A public asset – water – will be effectively privatised, the farmers will get money, and the people of Canterbury will get cowshit and poisoned drinking water.
The people of Canterbury should not put up with this. It’s their water, their environment, and the decisions about it should be made by representatives elected by and accountable to them – not appointed and instructed by the government in Wellington. They should demand elections – and if they are not granted, take their revenge on National at the ballot box in 2011.
Correction: Nope, no token environmentalist. Oh, one of them is involved in the “Water Rights Trust”, but they support irrigation projects rather than opposing them.