As we fill in our ballots for the local body elections in Christchurch, it’s worth remembering that this is the second election in which we have been denied the right to vote for our ECan representation. In 2010, the National Government scrapped the elected ECan councillors, based on report that they had commissioned by former National Party MP and owner of a dairy company, Wyatt Creech. While the target of the Creech report was ECan, the government also used the bill that was passed at the time to weaken parts of the resource management act, including the Water Protection Orders, which have been described as the “national parks” of our waterways. It was clear that the intention was to stop an increasingly urban ECan council from preventing the rapid expansion of dairying in Canterbury. Putting in commissioners has clearly helped with that. In the last 5 years, an additional 445,000 dairy cows have been introduced to the Canterbury Plains; that’s 244 new cows each day for the last 5 years. Removing an organisation called “Environment Canterbury” is clearly key to letting that happen.

The original ECan act scrapped the council and stopped elections in 2010, but allowed for elections in 2013. In 2012, the National Government extended the Bazley Doctrine until 2016, by cancelling the 2013 elections (which we should be voting on now.) The reason given was “earthquakes”. This decision was forced upon an already shell-shocked population, who were too tired to fight, despite the Human Rights Commission calling the decision an abuse of human rights.

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