by Andi Cockroft
Chairman Council of Outdoor
Recreation Associations of NZ
An Otago Daily Times
report (23 January) that nearly two-thirds of Dunedin
residents think public consultation is lacking at the
Dunedin City Council, according to the latest Dunedin
Residents’ Opinion Survey is yet another example of the
erosion of the public’s voice
diminishing of democracy. was Dunedin mayor Aaron Hawkins’
reaction to seems to ignore public concern and seek solace
in other convenient angles of his choosing.
Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations has been aware of
the quelling of public opinion in the bowels of both local
government and central government
There has evolved
more so that immediately after elections every three years
politicians seems to relax and forget who elected
It used to be that “accountability” and
“transparency” were oft-used words. They may still be
uttered but trends indicate that they are becoming
This has been further
aggravated by a lack of consultation and when consultation
does seem to occur, a closer examination shows it to be only
a token consultation.
The Council of Outdoor
Recreation Associations (CORANZ) has encountered the token
nod to consultation in central government’s select
committees where the public are now given just five minutes
Rudeness by MPs
Earlier this year, the
Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations of New Zealand
(CORANZ) expressed concern that parliament’s select
committee democratic process was being undermined to the
detriment of the public giving submissions.
I made an
oral submission to a select committee dealing with the
Resource Management Act (RMA).
After being beforehand,
granted 15 minutes speaking time the chairman Labour MP
Duncan Webb, interrupted my submission after five minutes
and said the committee had heard enough thereby cutting the
oral presentation short by ten minutes.
and snub to democracy left me bewildered and angry.
has been happening for some years now. Several years ago was
the ERMA 1080 poison review in which submitters were mostly
given just a token five minute slot. It was evident the ERMA
1080 review was nothing more than a “kangaroo court” and
a “token nod” to consultation.
The manner in which
firearm law changes following the Christchurch March 15,
2019 mosque tragedy, were rushed through with “thoroughly
indecent haste” showing a total disregard for democracy.
Consider the manner of the select committee dealing with
13,000 submissions in just two days. Forget the subject,
i.e. assault firearms. The issue might have been something
else totally removed from firearm issues.
The point is
public opinion was totally shunned. defying credibility and
showing a total lack of integrity and respect for public
government under cover of the Covid19 scare has been pushing
law changes through which lack proper democratic scrutiny.
Perhaps the Governor-general should be stepping in and
giving government a stern reminder about its duty to
To reiterate it’s been happening for
quite a while and it’s fair to say the erosion of
democracy is not confined to the current coalition
The National coalition government
(2008-2017) was guilty of a shocking and blatant breach of
democracy when Environment Minister Nick Smith sacked the
democratically elected Environment Canterbury council and
grabbed control by installing its own “state puppet”
Another example was Environment
Minister Nick Smith taking resource contents over 1080
poison aerial drops away from regional council and public
scrutiny and giving the government the sole, unassailable
power to approve. Public opinion va local government was
MP Public Servants
are treating the public with disdain, just making a token
consultation to listening. After all MPs are in reality,
public servants and the Prime Minister is not the people’s
leader but the most senior public servant.
central and local government elected representatives were
bureaucrats who seemed to manipulate MPs and the procedures
to suit political and/or self-serving agendas.
public believe Parliament is the place of democracy –
where you could get a fair hearing from elected
representatives based on a historical and moral constitution
of honour, truth and justice. It is not a charade.
whether it’s local or central government, consultant and
democracy is under threat. Dunedin’s Mayor Hawkins’
attitude reflects this cancerous disdain for democracy by
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