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CERA submitters demand democracy

Media Release: Sustainable Canterbury

Date: 3 November 2011

Subject: CERA submitters demand democracy

The lack of public hearings for the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) Recovery Strategy submissions has disappointed a number of Cantabrians.The submission process closed last Sunday and only the Earthquake Recovery Minister, Gerry Brownlee will get to see CERA’s conclusions from the input, before conveying central government’s final version.

“Normal government transparency has been abandoned here,”says Sustainable Canterbury spokesman Rik Tindall.“Christchurch is steadily losing faith.”

State vagueness is unwelcome following recent concern over other closed decisions, like those determining the fate of the Christchurch Anglican Cathedral that was the stricken city’s central icon.

“This is far from good enough and regional democracy should be immediately restored,for community voice in emergency matters,” Tindall says. “Other aspects are just as questionable.”

Tindall identifies the appointed CERA Community Forum and conflict-of-interest as associated problems.

“Roger Sutton seldom attends the forum and Brownlee never does,” Tindall has been informed. “Only representatives of the damaged eastern suburbs regularly attend, in the forlorn hope of supportive action there,” he reports. “They too have so far been disappointed.”

Tindall believes that “we have to ask what the point of this forum really is - to neutralise democratic objection to the obscure and heavy-handed style of governance, perhaps?”

Then there is the question of why a leading administrator from an established local construction family has been put in charge of Christchurch Deconstruction.

“Is the shocking sacrifice of our wondrous heritage buildings really a make-work scheme for big business?” Tindall asks. “And why has the same administrator been put in charge of the elected regional emergency committee, as a substitute for public voice over the full range of concerns?”

Sustainable Canterbury’s CERA submission asked for an immediate upgrade of democratic process. It also urged economic recovery through a commuter rail system, to integrate the outlying towns of greater Christchurch with the city rebuild, for a distributed employment boom. The Sustainable Canterbury submission can be read on the group’s website: http://mauriroawaitaha.wordpress.com

Sustainable Canterbury next meets this Sunday, 6 November at 3pm at the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA), 59 Gloucester Street, Christchurch. They are organising a policy forum on the troubled region’s water issues, for Monday 21 November, 7.30pm, also at WEA.

“We believe that innovative new industry and land uses, that support sustainable food production, affordable housing, biodiversity and energy independence, can chart a very prosperous future for Canterbury,” Tindall concludes. “Bad governance has gotten in the way, and just needs to end.”


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