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Our Water Our Vote

Written By: - Date published: 6:47 am, June 14th, 2010 - 31 comments
Categories: democracy under attack, Environment, national - Tags: ,

Sunday saw another big protest against the government. An estimated 3000 people turned out in Christchurch for the “Our Water Our Vote” rally to protest National’s attacks on Canterbury’s democracy and environment. According to The Press:

Thousands turned out for a protest against the sacking of ECan’s councillors in central Christchurch today. Politicians, Christchurch City councillors and sacked ECan councillors attended the Our Water Our Vote rally, organised to protest water issues and the removal of the council. … A cairn made of rocks from South Island rivers will remain in the Square until regional councillors are re-elected.

Robin Judkins, the Coast-to-Coast organiser, told the crowd the Government’s move was ”autocracy”. ”We’ve been hoodwinked; we’ve been hijacked. We’ve had two basic rights taken from us clean water and the ability to vote who represents us on this issue.”

Peter Beck, the Anglican Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, said he believed the demonstration was the largest the Square had seen for a ”very long time”.

National cancelled local body elections in Canterbury because Nick Smith was “wary of the outcome”, an attack which Canterbury University law professor Philip Joseph says “is ‘constitutionally repugnant’, contains ‘elements of subterfuge’ and is a ‘constitutional affront'”. Not surprisingly, people are angry:

Today’s protest went peacefully but organisers warn the war over water has only just begun.

John Key, Nick Smith and the Nats have, in their supreme arrogance, bitten off much more than they can chew in Canterbury.

31 comments on “Our Water Our Vote”

  1. Ron 1

    I wonder what the denizens of Ilam think of all this.

  2. Lazy Susan 2

    Good on you Christchurch. This disgraceful abuse of the democratic process has to be reversed.

    Water privatisation and management is shapeing up to become a big issue in the Super Shitty elections. If Rodney and NAct get their way in the Amendment to Local Government Act 2002 they won’t have to worry about breaching any democratic process as they will have already removed it – by legislation.

    Submissions close on 18th June and can be made here

    The interesting thing is that the report from this select Committee isn’t due until the 4th November – after the Super City elections in October. So candidates in this election will be asked to stand for election not knowing what legislative framework they will be operating under. Hard to make much in the way of policy commitments on that basis I guess.

    How convenient!

  3. vto 3

    Does anyone know if the farmers upstream from Dunsandel have started taking steps to clean up the towns water supply which they have let their cows shit in?

    After all, we have always been told that farmers are good honest salt-of-the-earth types. They would surely do this for their neighbours just as if their own neighbour had done similar to them…

    Or has nothing been done?

    The main neighbour is owned partly by Hubbard.

    • felix 3.1

      Who is Hubbard, v?

      • vto 3.1.1

        Allan Hubbard, famous benevolent Timaru owner of besieged South Canterbury Finance. He is also one of the main financial drivers behind Central Plains Water and the compulsory purchaser of other peoples property. Similarly the potato millionaire Pye is heavily involved.

        It pisses me off that these people do not stand up and answer the questions being asked. The water theft is intensely personal yet the farmers and people behind it are not standing up and being counted. They are being cowardly and hiding behind the like of Key and Smith. Where are they? Their voices are not out there defending themselves from these arguments?

        Who would have thought ay – farmers not cleaning up their mess, and being cowardly.

        … not to mention the entirely farcical suggestion of Key last week – that the govt will front up the cash to build CPW. So, the farmers take our water, then they shit in it, then they want ratepayers to pay for monitoring their shit, then they want the taxpayer to pay for more of the same for them….. i shake my head in disbelief

        • grumpy 3.1.1.1

          The Dunsandel issue is shamefull – but it is a Selwyn District Council well and they are the ones who won’t even investigate the source of the pollution. SDC also is bankrolling Central Plains Water.

          • vto 3.1.1.1.1

            It truly is shameful grumpy.

            One of the basic roles of a local authority is the provision of clean water. And here the Selwyn District Council fails.

            It is worth noting that many many small towns in NZ have poor water supplies. Water supplies that have failed just in recent years. We regulalry receive “boil water” notices from our local.

            And I recall Rodney Hide pounding the pulpit about exactly this prior to the election. Now that he is the Minister he has explicitly pushed it to the bottom of the list in exchange for his own ideologies. Very poor form Hide.

            The Minister of Local Government is not doing anything about ensuring that local governments are attending to their most basic role. And he continuously raves on about “core duties”. What a farce.

  4. Ray 4

    Simple question: How is it YOUR water?

    • vto 4.1

      Simple answer: it is generally accepted that natures resources belong to the community, of which farmers are but a subset. Hence the use of the word ‘our’.

      Now try the hard questions Ray.

  5. Ray 5

    So if you are farming up stream for generations and then a city is built down stream from you, the city population has the right to complain?
    Or you live a 100 miles away from the afore-mentioned city, the water yo might use has no connection with the city and in fact just runs out to sea, whose water is it then?

    • vto 5.1

      If your reference ray is to Christchurch then I think you will find that, putting aside earlier inhabitants, people lived in Christchurch before people irrigated in the hinterland. Argument fail, let alone relevance.

      As for your second sentence.. that moves into the environmental issue, an important one true. And a large response needed. But briefly, like you, re ‘running out to sea’, mess with nature at your peril. Take a look at the Great Artesian Basin in central Aussie – they had a similar outlook and the place is seriously degraded due to interference with the aquifers.

      As for whose water is it if people live 100miles apart – same answer as before – the communitys (which makeup is that of concentric rings – the family community living on the rivers edge, the local town living on the rivers edge, the wider regional community through which the river runs, and the national community on whose land the rain falls, the river forms and flows and sea who receives at the end).

      • ianmac 5.1.1

        The Christchurch aquafiers get the water through underground “seepage” from The Waimakariri River and the Rakaia River as pure water. It filters through the shingle but is vunerablre to river pollution from miles upstream. But pollution of these rivers couldn’t happen from Dairy Farm run-off – could it?
        The cost of having to chlorinate polluted water for over 400,000 people would be born by Nick Smith and Hide of course and not the rate-payer of course. ?????

    • Hateatea 5.2

      So to use your argument, Ray, if my ancestors had lived for hundreds of years below where you established your water guzzling, water polluting, wealth generating activity, I would have a right to complain and you would have to listen?

      Of course, we did, you did, we did and no one listened. Now we have the pollution but still many farmers (and other polluters) deny the cause and effect.

      As for water being wasted because it flows to the sea – what a load of cobblers. The oceans and many marine species depend on fresh water flows, river mouths need a volume of fresh water to ‘flush’ debris and keep them open, tuna (eels) need a volume of water to return to the ocean to spawn and to ‘sense’ the river when the glass eels return to commence the cycle all over again and many other examples.

      The attitudes that you articulate towards the vulnerable natural environment that you inhabit is truly frightening. You come across as one who sees no value in anything other than commercial exploitation of the natural resources of the world. How sad

      captcha: efficient

  6. jimmy 6

    Nice to see decent sized rabbles in both islands now. Excelent job on the thing full of rocks whoever organised it, thats not going to make the new dictators very happy.

  7. Lanthanide 7

    Remember also that Christchurch was bloody freezing on Sunday.

    I looked at metservice around 12:30 and it listed the temperature as 3.2ºC, “feels like” -1ºC and recommended 5 layers of clothing.

    • True Blue 7.1

      3000 out of a population of 300,000 I make that 1%, so the other 99% are quite happy.

      • Galeandra 7.1.1

        I make that 1%, so the other 99% are quite happy.

        Duh. More blue than true.

        • True Blue 7.1.1.1

          do the math

          • vto 7.1.1.1.1

            True Blue Dumbo, I wasn’t there so the other 99% are not happy also. That makes 100% unhappy by your calculations.

            sheesh

          • kaplan 7.1.1.1.2

            I also wasn’t there but wish I could have been.
            Using myself and vto as a representative sample, much like the approach you have used, 100% of those not there are also opposed.

            • ianmac 7.1.1.1.2.1

              Doesn’t it usually work that for every outspoken visible protester, there are likely 100 others in silence but who are concerned?
              3,000 X 100= 300,000

      • Bright Red 7.1.2

        Rubbish. Not turning out to a rally does not mean you oppose the rally’s aims.

        That’s just stupid, True Blue. Only 30,000 out of 4 million people attended the All Blacks vs Ireland game on the wekend. I make that 0.75%, so the other 99.25% must hate rugby.

        Did you honestly think anyone would read your comment and be convinced?

        It just makes you look more stupid.

        • True Blue 7.1.2.1

          Stupid argument Bright Red, there are not 4 million people in Taranaki dumb arse.

  8. Kerry 8

    Interesting article (and comments) about the protest and the dangers of following leaders:
    http://www.indymedia.org.nz/article/78663/open-letter-ch-ch-water-rights-campaign

    • Pepeketua 8.1

      hmmm, cound’t figure out what to make of the link above. I was at the rally, as were thousands of concerned Cantabrians, no MPs spoke, instead passionate speakers with a wide variety of perspectives (including fifth generation Canterbury farmer, Brian Deans), all were united that to continue with the current acceleration of irrigation development over any one else’s rights to water was a dangerous situation indeed.

      People are worried. it’s evident from an OIA request by F&B http://forestandbird.org.nz/what-we-do/publications/media-releases/forest-bird-uncovers-government-plan-push-irrigation that Key, Carter and Co were intent from the beginning at turning over water conservation orders to install dams on the Rakaia (which had a WCO) and the Hurunui (which had one pending). the advice to Ministers was that council processes and WCOs wouldn’t allow that to happen, so the council was sacked and appeal rights for WCOs were disestablished.

      According to Lincoln University study http://www.lincoln.ac.nz/Documents/2347_tait_s6599.pdf found that dairy stock numbers on the Canterbury Plains had increased by 390% between 1990 and 2003, goodness knows what the current explosion is at. it’s not sustainable, it’s not right that a public resource is being given to increase private wealth, and it must stop.

  9. Ray 9

    Thanks for that VTO
    Reasonable answers although tipping more fresh water into the Pacific Ocean hardly equates with the Great Artesian Basin in central Australia but who knows although percentage wise it seems unlikely
    I think you will find that there was dairy farming above the future city of Christchurch by families who still live there although give you the point that there was not much irigation and they have been forced further inland

    • felix 9.1

      Um, if the water was “fresh water” it wouldn’t be a problem. That’s kinda the whole point.

    • Bored 9.2

      Just another little curve ball for this debate: some idiot made a statement that the fresh water discharged into the sea from Canterbury rivers being a “waste’. Some points:

      • the ecology of river mouths obviously did not occur to the idiot in question, nor the effect of fresh water on the local marine ecosystems. Just another environment that does not count to moneyed interests.

      • the water that the Selwyn has been deprived of since the high country swamps were drained, and aquifers lowered gives you a good idea of what happens to a low country lake (Ellesmere) when the water is not allowed through the system and out into the Pacific. The “wasted’ water might just have flushed out the eutrophied mess that pollutes Ellesmere.

      • the beaches that form Canterburys seaward barrier are composed of shingle washed out to sea by “wasted’ water. Stop the flow and the beaches cut back “wasting’ good farmland.

      • the “wasted’ water also acts in the braided rivers to scour away vegetation and creates a unique ecosystem with endangered species who rely on the flow to keep the area clear of predator infested vegetation.

  10. randal 10

    the people of canterbury misunderstand capitalism.
    any assets natural or otherwise are for sale to the highest bidder especially when swaps can be arranged for useless sonsumer items vis a vis long term returns.
    thats what capitalism is folks.

  11. Pepeketua 11

    So despite saying he was “relaxed” about the protests, and more recently that the protesters in Canterbury (who fronted up on Thursday night to his appearance at Nicky Wagner’s office opening with a cake in the shape of a cowpat – to celebrate) were a “pack of trainees” – as well as apparently infamously stating that “Democracy is on hold in Canterbury”… on hold!??!, the PM now regrets how the govt has handled the ECAN shambles.

    http://nz.news.yahoo.com/a/-/latest/7500774/key-regrets-ecan-controversy/1/asc/96263/#thread

    do they regret it enough to protect the rivers from the impending destruction by dams and large-scale irrigation though?

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