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Labour will rescind ECan Act

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Brendon Burns
Brendon Burns

Wellington, April 27 NZPA - The Labour Party is pledging to rescind the legislation it says "foisted" commissioners on Environment Canterbury.

The Government sacked the council and appointed a panel of commissioners, saying water management in the region was a shambles.

Labour's water spokesman, Brendon Burns, said today his party had always taken a very strong line against sacking a democratically elected body.

"As a Canterbury MP I have been challenged to say if Labour's opposition to the ECan Act will be followed by reinstatement of the council, or a similar democratically elected body when Labour wins next year's election," he said.

"The answer is yes, and caucus supported that strongly today."

The Government intends going ahead with council elections in 2013, but Mr Burns said there were signals it might not do that.

"Cantabrians are worried that National prefers the recommendation in the Wyatt Creech report it commissioned around a Regional Water Authority, perhaps an appointed body," he said.

"Labour has too much faith in the intelligence of Canterbury voters to go down that route."

It was reported earlier today that cabinet papers showed planning for an inquiry into Canterbury's water problems began before the last election, and officials told the previous government the problems could be more important for the economy than Auckland's governance.

Former Labour environment minister Trevor Mallard sought advice from the ministry on a possible inquiry into Environment Canterbury, The Press newspaper reported.

"Backlogs in resource consent processing, caused by a surge in new applications for taking water coupled with a shortage of appropriately qualified and skilled staff, are adding further fuel to expressions of public concern," the officials said.

Mr Mallard said the inquiry was not carried out because the 2008 election got in the way.

"If you look at the timing of all that, it got to the point where I thought it was inappropriate to head towards intervening. But we were looking at designing a solution," he said.

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