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Goff pledges to return ECan to democratic control

Phil Goff
Leader of the Labour Party
27 May 2010 Media Statement

Goff pledges to return ECan to democratic control
Labour will introduce a Member’s Bill to return Environment Canterbury to democratic control, says Labour Leader Phil Goff.

Mr Goff is visiting Christchurch today and pledged to overturn “draconian” legislation which he says takes away from Cantabrians the right to determine who makes ECan decisions and how their rates are spent.

Christchurch Central MP Brendon Burns will take a draft bill to Labour’s caucus next week to reinstate a democratically-elected ECan council, Phil Goff said. “It will require commissioners to call elections within three months of it becoming law.

“Canterbury University law professor Philip Joseph is absolutely right in declaring the National Government’s moves to sack ECan councillors ‘constitutionally repugnant’. Their legislation, rammed through Parliament under urgency, with no chance for the people of Canterbury to have their say, was a disgrace.

“This legislation took away any democratic accountability over how the balance is found between competing interests for how water is used, and the extent to which irrigation prevails over recreational users,” Phil Goff said.

“Decisions will be made by unelected commissioners and local people will be denied any ability to seek reconsideration of their decisions in the Environment Court. The new law undermines protection provided by Water Conservation Orders for waters of ‘outstanding amenity or intrinsic values’.

“Rodney Hide, as Local Government Minister, supported this legislation. Yet, with breathtaking hypocrisy, he argued shortly afterwards that: ‘We believe that when you are essentially regulating and controlling natural resources such as water and land, the people responsible should be subject to democratic control. That means if the community does not like it, the community can sack them’.

“To argue this in relation to Waikato and do the opposite in relation to Canterbury is double standards at its worst.

“The ECan legislation compounds the Government’s bad record in originally proposing to mine nearly half a million hectares of national park land and protected areas, and of withholding protection of sensitive coastal land,” Phil Goff said.

“It has the worst record of any government in a generation of ignoring environmental concerns. Brendon Burns’ bill is an important step toward restoring people’s democratic rights to participate in decisions about sustaining their environment.”

ENDS

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