Moves to trample local democracy in Canterbury a sign of things to comePublish By Ryan Berry Updated 26/07/2012 8:36 am in NZ News / no comments
PSA MEDIA RELEASE
26th July 2012 – For Immediate Use
Moves to further restrict local democracy in Canterbury could be a sign of things to come under the government’s local government reforms, according to the Public Service Association.
The Canterbury regional council – Environment Canterbury – was sacked and replaced by commissioners in 2009. Now the government is considering appointing new council members, rather than allowing them to be elected at next year’s local body elections.
“This is a complete erosion of local democracy and the sort of thing we could see more of under the Local Government Act Amendment Bill 2002 which is being pushed through parliament,” says PSA National Secretary Brenda Pilott.
The legislation lowers the threshold for government interference and gives the Minister substantial power to intervene and direct council affairs.
“Basically it takes the ‘local’ out of local government by undermining local decision-making and democracy and turning local bodies into mere agents of central government.”
“It runs counter to the purpose of having democratically elected and accountable local bodies,” Brenda Pilott says.
“Denying Canterbury residents the opportunity to go to the ballot box and elect their own local representatives tramples on the spirit of local democracy. Communities throughout New Zealand should see it as a warning about the dangers of the proposed changes to local government legislation as it will make it much easier for central government to make these types of undemocratic interventions.”
The PSA will be making a full submission on the Local Government Amendment Bill to highlight the concerns of its members and the implications for local communities, during the select committee process.