SHOW SOLIDARITY AND JOIN THE RATES PROTEST
It was like being back in the 70’s as hundreds of Christchurch citizens, enraged at loosing their vote, heckled those arriving at a National Party function on the last day in office of the sacked Environment Canterbury representatives. The police were out in force and one would be water bomber was arrested.
Very few of the water interest groups of Canterbury took up the invitation of the National Party Canterbury / Westland Policy committee and paid $10 for nibbles with a cash bar available to hear “Canterbury water – a collaborative approach” chaired by Mayor Bob Parker with the other panelists being the Hon Dr Nick Smith- Minister for the Environment, Murray Rogers – Water Rights Trust, Peter Townsend – CEO , Mark Solomon – Chair, Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu, David Horn – director Canterbury Water.
The crowd screamed “sack Bob” and “we can’t drink money”.
The Government has dissolved the elected council of Environment Canterbury and replaced it with unelected commissioners. It has decided that there will be no elections as otherwise required by the Local Elections Act for ECan later this year. Instead until 2013, the region’s water will remain under the control of what has been termed the Bazley gang” National ’s own “lets have some dams” yes puppets. The credentials of the commissioners are weighted for irrigation and against the environment and ordinary citizens. For instance Tom Lambie is a chairman of the Opuha Dam partnership and Rex Williams is an engineer and businessman in cement production.They have the credentials to make dams.
The catalyst for all this was a review by Wyatt Creech that damned the elected council. Creech is a big player in the dairy industry (amongst other interests, he, along with John Key at one point, and other National figures are behind the Dairy Investment Fund which owns Open Country Cheese).
The report contains accusations that the ECan councillors are too worried about ’science’ and says their decisions are “science led rather than science informed”, which is basically equivalent to saying that ECan should turn a blind eye to the facts when they’re inconvenient for dairy interests. It goes on to say “large numbers of staff are “green” in orientation”, which means they are sin of sin, putting the environment before the interests of farmers hell bent on sucking our rivers dry for irrigation. The Rakaia River closed up at the mouth about 10 days ago. Virtually unprecedented. People at Rakaia Huts say low flows are causing back-up flooding. Also unheard of.
At the end of the day, the dairy industry, which has deep connections with National, just wants more water allocated for dairy farming. They don’t care that this is unsustainable.
Yesterday agriculture Minister David Carter, who has a farm in the Hurunui and stands to benefit from fast tracking irrigation in the Hurunui, threatened other councils who do not co-operate with National party agendas of water for farmers and bugger the environment . He has finally said it: ECan was sacked because it didn’t “co-operate” with farmers and give them all the water they wanted. And other councils had better do what they are told, or they too will be sacked:
Speaking at the Irrigation New Zealand conference in Christchurch yesterday, Carter said the Government had “no option” but to sack the councillors.
“We had to act here in Canterbury because the situation was untenable if we are going to seriously make progress in delivering this irrigation,” he said. “I would have thought what happened recently with Environment Canterbury would be a signal to all regional councils to work a bit more constructively with their farmer stakeholders.”
The protest began on the steps of Ecan where the crowd was addressed by Labour MP Brendon Burns, Greens MP Kevin Hague, Yani Johanson and sacked ECAN councillor Jane Demeter. The protest then moved 20 metres to the Copthorne Hotel where the crowd roared and hissed as participants arrived, sharing their rage at the loss of the democratic process in Canterbury.