Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Letter to the NZ Prime Minister from Political Science Researchers and Writers

Thanks to colleagues in Political Science and Public Policy this letter went to the New Zealand Prime Minister -the select comittee hearing on the suspension of regional elections is tomorrow, 15 Nov.

Rt. Hon. John Key
Prime Minister
Parliament Office
Private Bag 18888
Parliament Buildings
Wellington 6160

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.

Yours faithfully
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 BΓΌhrs, Lincoln University