Cantabrians 'stripped of democracy'
The Government is stripping Cantabrians of "effective and meaningful democracy" in the region, the organisers of a protest rally say.
Hundreds of residents are expected to gather by the Bridge of Remembrance for a rally to mark Suffrage Day at 5.30pm tomorrow.
The event has been organised in response to the Government's plans to close or merge over 30 schools in the city and delay Environment Canterbury elections until 2016.
Rally organisers are also concerned about the growing powers of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) and its impact on the city's future.
Canterbury University political science lecturer Bronwyn Hayward, one of the rally organisers, said the Government had "effectively sidelined" the city's residents and their democratic rights.
Hayward said the Christchurch City Council had been gradually stripped of most its powers by Cera, with no plans in place to return their powers.
"Even if we hold elections next year for the city council, it's not clear that they have any real decision-making power."
The "extraordinary" decision to scrap ECan elections had further eroded "effective and meaningful" democracy in the city, while Hayward was also critical of how proposed changes to the city's education system had been announced.
"There may be some good ideas and the community may welcome some of the changes, but to roll it out in a consultation process that's so rushed and on such a large scale ... it's effectively sidelined the local communities."
She hoped the rally would draw attention to the lack of democracy in the city and encourage the Government to reconsider its approach to the city's recovery.
"There has to be a moment at which we say, 'Stop - you've stepped over a line here'.
"It's not democratic, it's not healthy, and it's not the New Zealand way."
Hayward said the organisers would have a petition at the event for attendees to sign.
More than 500 people had indicated they would attend the rally on the official Facebook page for the event as of yesterday afternoon.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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