100 signatures reached
To: Nanaia Mahuta, Local Government Minister
Re-establish fair representation on the Canterbury Regional Council
E kare, e te minita, Honourable Nanaia Mahuta
We ask you to review the decision of the Local Government Commission on the representation arrangements to apply for the election of the Canterbury Regional Council to be held on 12 October 2019. This review must make each voter’s vote equal, in order to re-establish a fair representative democracy.
Section 19V(2) of the Local Electoral Act 2001 states a rule that constituencies should comply with ‘’the of being equal numbers within +/- 10% rule.’’
The present arrangement maintains a difference well outside the 10 percent rule. With rural areas consistently greater that urban Christchurch areas, the difference between the Christchurch seats and the rural seats is at least 24%, on average. Non-Christchurch seats have about 9200 fewer residents than the average Christchurch seat. And when the largely rural Ōwhanga is considered, the percentage difference between urban Christchurch and the rural/small town seats is even larger.
Why is this important?
Democracy is one of the most important institutions in our country and must be protected.
Environment Canterbury lost its democratic legitimacy when the National government removed the elected councillors on the pretext that water plans were not being completed. Commissioners replaced the elected councillors.
In the last election a hybrid council of commissioners and elected members was established with the minister having the ability to appoint commissioners to achieve the outcomes he required.
Many Canterbury people believe the motive for this was to ensure that large commercial irrigators, often dairy farmers could gain access to a property right to water. The effect of this has been and will continue to be a loss of clean drinking and recreational water, and a degradation of the braided rivers and the spring feed lowland rivers
The present arrangement is definitely an improvement on unelected commissions and the mix of commissioners and elected members but the unbalanced voting strengths of rural and city still allow the continuation of both democracy and degradation of the water environment.
In their findings the Commission put the importance of ‘’community of interest’’ before the equality of votes. They used the large braided riverbeds as boundaries for reasons of ‘’community of interest’.’ This is unjustified.
ECAN was established from Catchment Boards which functioned within the river catchments ie both banks of the large rivers.
By restoring a democratic council with votes evenly distributed in the population we would reaffirm our commitment as a nation to democracy at an appropriate level and help safe guard our environment.