Rt. Hon. John Key
Private Bag 18888
Private Bag 18888
15 October, 2012
Dear Mr. Key,
We are writing to you as researchers and writers who have an interest in strengthening democratic governance to express our deep concern regarding recent government decisions in Christchurch that can only be construed as undermining local democracy.
While there are diverse views about how to address complex problems in Christchurch, we are united in our concern in relation to three specific issues:
1. At present, the government department CERA is the primary agency making strategic decisions in Christchurch. Its presence has effectively compromised the functioning of the elected city council, and removed some of its key decision-making functions. There is also no clear pathway to reinstate the city council’s original role.
2. The Canterbury Regional Council (ECAN) which is established to work through its elected council has been suspended while government nominated Commissioners make significant decisions about Canterbury’s regional water, air and transport. There is no clear timeframe indicated that will restore the process of election to ECAN.
3. It is clear there is widespread concern and scepticism about the opportunity for genuine involvement in decisions on changes to the Christchurch school system.
Our concern in each of these cases is that opportunity for public deliberation is being seriously undermined and that the structures of local representation are being weakened. In the absence of these, there is much greater risk the resulting decisions will not only not be informed by local knowledge, but they will lack legitimacy with the community.
We ask that you intervene and restore confidence in the people of Christchurch, and the rest of New Zealand, that your government will ensure due processes of democratic representation and public deliberation in the decisions made for and about communities.
We look forward to your urgent attention and response to this matter.
Dr Bronwyn Hayward, University of Canterbury
Dr Patrick Barrett, University of Waikato
Dr Rachel Simon-Kumar, University of Waikato
Professor Bryan Gould CNZM, Ako Aotearoa
Associate Professor Priya Kurian, University of Waikato
Associate Professor Janine Hayward, University of Otago
Associate Professor Richard Shaw, Massey University
Associate Professor Christine Cheyne, Massey University
Professor Gerald Chan, University of Auckland
Dr Brian Roper, University of Otago
Dr Carla Lam, University of Otago
Associate Professor Richard Jackson, The National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies
Associate Professor Margie Comrie, Massey University
Associate Professor Ann Sullivan, University of Auckland
Jeanette Wright, University of Waikato
Dr Peter Skilling, AUT
Steve Baron, Better Democracy New Zealand
Dr Anita Lacey, University of Auckland
Quentin Findlay, Lincoln University
Matthew Gibbons, University of Waikato
Dr Rowland Weston, University of Waikato
Dr Louise Humpage, University of Auckland
Dr James Watson, Massey University
Associate Professor Ton Bührs, Lincoln University