Restart ECan elections - Shearer
Cantabrians would be electing their regional councillors next year if Labour were in power, leader David Shearer says.
Axing Environment Canterbury elections in favour of Government-appointed commissioners went against Cantabrians' democratic rights and recommendations from the commissioners, he said.
Local Government Minister David Carter and Environment Minister Amy Adams said last month that ECan elections would not be held until 2016, despite a Government promise to hold regional council elections next year.
Instead, a ministerial review of ECan's governance arrangements will be held in 2014.
This went against a recommendation by the Internal Affairs Department and the Environment Ministry to establish a transitional body made up of elected councillors and Government-appointed members.
The commissioners have been in charge of the regional council since democratically elected councillors were sacked early in 2010.
Shearer said in Christchurch yesterday that if Labour were in power, elections would be held next year.
"We believe it should go fully back to elections. That's always been our position."
He criticised Carter's refusal to release the report that led to the commissioners' reappointment. "The big issue is a lack of democracy and lack of transparency," he said. "We don't know what the Government is doing."
Carter has refused to publicly release the report, which he said recommended continuing with the commissioners for another four years.
Shearer said Carter was "the only person standing in the way" of a move back to democracy in the region.
However, he would have accepted the compromise of a mixed-governance model as a "fair step" to reinstating democracy.
Shearer questioned whether or not a unitary authority, suggested by commissioners in yesterday's Press, would work in Canterbury as well as it had in Auckland.
"It's a question for Canterbury, not for central government," he said. Shearer has been in Christchurch for a two-day Labour caucus, which included briefings with rebuild officials, city tours and meetings with social agencies, businesses and community leaders.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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