The perspective page of the Press is the natural home of a number of bizarre opinions. They are often deliberately provocative, totally unworkable, or horribly ideological. Sometimes they make sense. But this morning’s opinion was extraordinary, even given the expectations I have of this section. In it, 1%-er, CEO and Knight of the Realm argued that the peasantry should have the choice to vote for not having the vote anymore:
Starting with local body elections we could make a change that would enable voters to demand better performance from our politicians. I suggest that on every local body ballot paper an additional candidate is created which says “Appoint commissioners”. The local citizens would be democratically choosing, if in sufficient numbers, an action for the government to take.
The examples that this rich, old, white man cites are the technocrats installed in various European states after the Global Financial Crisis, and the commissioners installed at ECan. In the case of the latter, the “need” for commissioners was dubious at best; a crisis was created so that a right-wing government could impose upon ECan people to do a job that elected officials would never have agreed to do. In the former, a financial crisis – which was created by rich, white, old men that Simpson represents – was used as a reason for those same rich, white, old men to impose government by rich, white, old men.
Yes, voter turnout is depressingly low. But that shouldn’t mean that we should have our right to vote taken from us – even if those same rich, white, old men would try and convince us that we should vote away our right to vote. This is another worrying attempt from the people who hold positions of power in the country to further weaken local government and centralize control; if the quakes have taught us anything, it’s that power should be shifting back from the elite to communities, not the other way around.
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.
Another take on the Christchurch local body elections, from Caleb Morgan. Digs into the “non-political politician” sham quite well.
the main barrier to informed voting seems to be that most candidates are doing their utmost to portray themselves as being non-party-affiliated, and sometimes even ‘non-political.’
Also worth considering it Generation Zero’s easy-to-read table comparing the policies of Hagley-Ferrymead candidates. They consider climate change, carbon neutrality, cycling, green buildings and public transport, and give the candidates good or average policy rankings. Notable that there were no bads.