26 January 2016 MEDIA STATEMENT
Revelations that Environment Canterbury’s (ECan) commissioners secretly lobbied the Government to retain their special powers – including blocking appeals to the Environment Court – display a worrying lack of accountability and transparency, says Labour’s Local Government Spokesperson Meka Whaitiri.
“This is disappointing and falls beneath the standard we should expect from local authorities,” says Meka Whaitiri.
“We have a group of unelected commissioners who have opted to privately lobby Government for an extension of contentious special powers, rather than make a public submission to select committee where their views can be debated with an appropriate level of scrutiny.
“An unelected body that has been operating with controversial special powers for 6 years should have the insight to conduct themselves with an even higher level of transparency than normal. All the commissioners have done is to reinforce the widely-held perception that ECan lacks accountability and operates with only the thinnest veil of democracy.
“This kind of disregard for parliamentary process is the legacy of a Government that prefers to work via backroom deals than in the light of day.
“I want to see smart, effective local government that stands up to robust scrutiny; transparent local government that empowers the communities they represent.
“A Labour Government will nurture a more cooperative model of local government and restore full democracy to the Canterbury Region,” says Meka Whaitiri.