New Zealand First has promised to bring democracy back to Canterbury as soon as possible in light of public outrage over the way the Government has reneged on a promise to hold Canterbury Regional Council (ECAN) elections next year.
Local Government spokesperson Andrew Williams says the extension of time for the temporary commissioners for another three years tramples on the democratic rights of Canterbury people.
“The ministers are conveniently using water issues to override democratic governance of environmental and other regional issues in Canterbury and the people are getting angry.
“The commissioners have powers that crush local democracy and the ECAN chairperson Dame Margaret Bazley herself has recommended placing the council under the control of both elected and government appointed representatives.”
Mr Williams points out that both the Internal Affairs Department and Environment Ministry wanted elected members back on the regional council.
“Setting up a local government dictatorship is a breach of human rights, and international laws, which New Zealand is a signatory to.
“The Government should be warned that denying democracy at local level is the first step down a very dangerous road that New Zealanders will not tolerate.
“Just because the ministers don’t like the people who might be elected does not mean the system is wrong.
“It means the ministers have to learn to work with local people, just like the commissioners are prepared to,” says Mr Williams.