Editorial: Something's afoot

We're proud of our democracy, so when someone takes a part of it away from us, you'd think we'd be upset.

But no, not in the case of Environment Canterbury anyway. The fact there will be no publicly elected representatives until at least 2016 has raised nary a squawk.

In fact, rather than attract criticism, the only sources of public comment have been positive. In this area anyway.

Timaru's mayor Janie Annear and Federated Farmers have expressed pleasure at the reappointment of commissioners to run the regional council for the next four years.

This is despite advice to the Government not to do that. In fact, the commissioners themselves recommended a mixed commissioner/councillor setup.

And it is despite legislation in 2010 saying elections would be held next year.

So why has there been no public outcry in this, the southern area of ECan? (In Christchurch there certainly has been).

Simple really. Before the council was sacked in 2010 for being dysfunctional there was general discontent in South Canterbury with the council's performance. It wasn't called ECan't for nothing.

And since the commissioners took over, they appear to have been doing a good job. Where before this newspaper office received regular complaints on the workings of ECan, they are now few and far between.

The land and water regional plan, which previous councils struggled with, is now well advanced.

And the other reason is Christchurch has suffered life-changing earthquakes. Why unravel something that's working well when there is so much else to do?

But the real question might not be why there hasn't been an outcry, but what is the Government really thinking behind closed doors.

After all, no one was asking for a continuation of a commissioner-run council.

There have been theories around securing water for National's mates, but more likely is a grander plan around long-term local government.

Local Government Minister David Carter says an amalgamated ECan/Christchurch City Council is "definitely not" going to happen.

But remember, this was the same Government that said ECan elections would be held no later than next year.

The Timaru Herald