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A national trout and rivers advocacy the NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers has urged the new government to restore fully democratic elections to Environment Canterbury “as soon as possible”.

The organisation's call was a response to news that Canterbury cow numbers had continued to rise. National cow numbers had had dipped one percent but in contrast Canterbury dairy cattle numbers increased by 3 percent in the past year and 9 percent over the last five years. Correspondingly irrigated farm land had increased 7 percent in the last three years.

“It’s vital that the new government restores full democracy as soon as is possible and practical,” he said. “That would seem to indicate next year’s local body elections. We just want to hold the government to its promise,” said Graham Carter president of the NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers.

The previous National-led Government removed democratically-elected councillors in 2009 and replaced them with seven commissioners the following year.

One of the sacked councillors, Eugenie Sage, was now Minister of Conservation. Former Environment Minister Nick Smith promised to restore democracy in 2013, but reneged and it was pushed to 2016. A return to full democracy was delayed again until 2019. Currently half the current council was elected and half appointed. 

During the election campaign, Labour said full elections would be restored "as soon as possible," but that was unlikely to happen before 2019, when normal elections were to be held.

Graham Carter said it was significant that during that period of the “government puppet” ECAN council, Canterbury’s cow numbers and irrigated land had both substantially increased.

“This was in face of the death of Canterbury rivers such as the Selwyn, Irwell, the Pareora and Orari,Rivers. Bizarrely the death of democracy and these four rivers was dealt by the then Environment minister who should have shown concern for the environment and public waterways.”

"This has been accompanied by the serious degradation of both the Opihi and Ashburton catchments where fish, stock, and human health have been threatened by the pollutants and algal blooms directly attributable to the overstocking by dairy herds."

Graham Carter said the public were looking for much higher respect for the public’s waterways and environment than the previous government.

Contact: Graham Carter 021 026 00437