Apr 27, 2010

Labour will restore democracy to ECan

Today’s Labour caucus meeting pledged to rescind the Act foisting commissioners on Environment Canterbury, and to hold elections as soon as practicable.

Labour Water spokesperson Brendon Burns said that when the last Labour Government had asked Ministry for Environment officials for options around water management problems in Canterbury, the ministry had specifically recommended against installing commissioners.

"All along Labour has rightly taken a very strong line against sacking a democratically-elected body," Brendon Burns said.

"As a Canterbury MP I have been challenged to say if Labour’s opposition to the ECan Act will be followed by reinstatement of the council, or a similar democratically-elected body when Labour wins next year’s election.

"The answer is yes, and caucus supported that strongly today," Brendon Burns said.

"The issue is becoming more urgent for Cantabrians because there are already signals that the Government has no plans to reinstate ECan even in 2013.

"Cantabrians are worried that National prefers the recommendation in the Wyatt Creech report it commissioned around a Regional Water Authority, perhaps an appointed body," Brendon Burns said.

"Labour has too much faith in the intelligence of Canterbury voters to go down that route.

"We can reassure Canterbury that we will restore democracy as soon as we are in a position to do so. Canterbury deserves better than a solution where the few think they know what’s best for the many."

"Labour supports new water projects for Canterbury, but we will ensure there are proper environmental controls at the same time as democracy is restored."