ECan pair considering challenge

21:09, Apr 13 2010
ECan pair considering challenge
PARTING PRESENTS: Cr Jo Kane, left, handed out mock gifts including a vasectomy-kit for one fellow councillor. Chairman Alec Neill, centre, and Cr Eugenie Sage, right, see the funny side of Kane's stunt.

Two regional council heavyweights are leaving the door open for a shot at the Christchurch mayoralty.

Environment Canterbury (ECan) deputy chairwoman Jo Kane and former chairman Sir Kerry Burke gave valedictory speeches at yesterday's full council meeting.

Government-appointed commissioners will take over the council next month.

Kane and Burke confirmed they had been asked to stand against Mayor Bob Parker and neither had ruled it out.

Kane said the mayoralty was "up for grabs" and she wanted to see a woman get the job.

Burke said it was "quite possible" someone from the ECan council table would take on Parker in October's local body elections. He would probably make a decision on his political future next month.

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Both speeches hinted at continued representation, with Burke saying it was not a valedictory, but a "see you later". Kane quoted actor-turned-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger's catchcry, "I'll be back".

There was plenty of spite at yesterday's meeting for the Government, which passed an act under urgency to sack the councillors and make other water-management changes.

Grim-faced councillors also expressed anger at Canterbury's mayors, who led the charge to have ECan reviewed.

"Today is a sad day for Canterbury that a small group of stakeholders and 10 mayors decided on Canterbury's behalf that it doesn't deserve representation," Kane said.

Earlier, Burke compared the sacking to the Erebus crash – using the incorrect co-ordinates entered in to the Air New Zealand plane's guidance system as a metaphor for the Government's hidden agenda.

Outgoing councillors registered their opposition to the new act with a strongly-worded motion, bemoaning the lack of evidence for the sacking and the absence of any public consultation.

It also suggested commissioners review ECan's $4.3 million funding for the Canterbury Water Management Strategy and hand the bill to territorial authorities.

Cr Eugenie Sage, who moved the motion, called the new legislation "obnoxious".

The Government had a pre-determined agenda to promote water storage in the hope of economically catching up with Australia, she said. "We all know it's about water."

Cr Carole Evans said the Government had "wiped out democracy" and Canterbury's mayors, who wanted ECan "done away with" should now pay for the water management strategy.

Cr Pat Harrow said ECan "waffling" had held up progress and the Government wanted action.

The meeting was not all doom and bitterness, however.

Kane lightened the mood by handing out presents to councillors.

She gave a vasectomy kit to the absent Cr Mark Oldfield because "I don't want him to reproduce", and glow-in-the-dark stars for Cr Rik Tindall because "I wonder what planet you're on". She also presented a framed picture of herself to chairman Alec Neill, with an "It's all about me" sticker.

Chief executive Dr Bryan Jenkins said commissioners would hear annual plan submission in Timaru on May 24 and in Christchurch on May 25 and 26. A subsequent "council" meeting of commissioners will decide changes to the plan.

Neill said any councillor appointments to external bodies would cease from May 1.

The final council meeting will be held on April 22.

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