RNZ on democracy rebuild

Axel was one of a few ECan candidates interviewed by Radio New Zealand. Their article, published on 28 August, covered our democracy rebuild policy. That’s our plan for the newly elected Council to oversee a full independent review of ECan as an organisation to ensure its democratic integrity is rebuilt.

It has been nearly a decade since the removal of full democracy at ECan. We consider it highly likely, if not inevitable, that the absence of standard democratic processes, structures, culture, checks and balances over such a long period of time may have resulted in the erosion of some key democratic foundations within ECan. We think that merely reinstating an elected Council is unlikely to redress the full range of ways in which a decade without democracy may have altered the fundamental democratic nature of the organisation.

Cameron Henderson is the odd one out in this article. Odd in the sense that he’s the only person interviewed who isn’t standing for election.

I was asked at a candidates’ meeting the other day that all the candidates were saying the “right things”, so how can voters possibly make up their mind? My suggestion to the audience was to look past what candidates say they will do in future, but judge them by past and present actions. Words are cheap but actions speak loudly. I, for one, have either used public transport or a bicycle as my main mode of transport for the last 30 years, with the mode choice preference depending on which city I lived in at any one time.

My answer to the reporter’s query was a bit more nuanced than that. Public transport governance absolutely needs to be reviewed as the current CCC (Christchurch City Council) / ECan split of responsibilities makes no sense whatsoever. That doesn’t mean that public transport should automatically go to CCC. In fact, of the numerous options that exist, I regard it as unlikely that CCC governance is the most sensible choice. CTOC (Christchurch Transport Operations Centre, jointly owned by ECan, NZTA and CCC) is an existing organisation whose scope could be extended to take on more functions. CTOC’s functions already extend into Selwyn and Waimakariri, so they are more likely a suitable organisation than CCC itself. But there are lots of other options worthy of consideration.

A nice, informative report on some regional council issues. Good work, Katie!

Katie Todd (left) interviewing Emma Twaddell (Innes ward community board candidate)

2 thoughts on “RNZ on democracy rebuild”

  1. You state it makes no sense for the split between Ecan and CCC for PT operation. The split is that Ecan operates the PT network and CCC is responsible for funding local infrastructure out of rates. This system is used around the country except in the areas where unitary authorities are in operation such as in Auckland. Auckland Transport is the only agency that is under a unitary authority that is actually improving public transport. In the other areas where unitary authorities are in operation, they are as weak as territorial councils.

    There isn’t any better system because there simply isn’t any magic money tree to provide the funding for the local infrastructure. If Ecan was responsible for the whole network it would have to be their ratepayers that would be funding the local infrastructure. That would be resisted as fiercely as CCC currently resists providing the funding. And CCC would still create problems over the use of the roads.

    Suggesting the Auckland model is the one to follow ignores the problem that Auckland Transport is an arms length CCO. It is not a democratically controlled organisation. And that is the main reason that it can get stuff done. If its board was directly elected it would favour motorways over public transport.

    I don’t see CTOC being able to achieve anything as the same bunfights will continue basically over the same issues: The territorial councils will continue to prioritise the majority users of roads, private motor vehicles, over public transport, because that is where they get their votes from. Local governance at the territorial level is so weak and corrupt it is practically impossible to overcome that.

    1. Interesting thoughts, Patrick. I know what you mean when you say “ignores the problem that Auckland Transport is an arms length CCO” and back in 2010 when it was set up, I wasn’t sure whether the model would work. But we now know that it does work and the term “problem” is maybe a tad unfair. It works because AT’s board delivers against its Statement of Intent (given to it by Auckland’s elected members) and that takes the squabbles out that usually paralyses city councillors in their bun fight over broken yellow lines and other operational issues that aren’t part of meaningful governance.

      It’s a big topic and maybe we should have an in-depth chat over a glass of beer. You’ve certainly got a good understanding of how it all works and I’d be keen to hear more of your thoughts.

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