Make your votes count
As the countdown to local body elections quickens, Environment Network Manawatu is taking this opportunity to encourage people to make their vote count.
Local government voter turnout is traditionally low, while local government is often seen as unimportant.
However, when it comes to the environment, this is far from the truth.
Decisions made by city, district or regional councils can and do have a large influence on the health of the environment.
Local councils have a strong influence over environmental impacts because they can set rules about what is permitted.
These rules can be tougher than central government rules.
For example, central government has set the bottom line for water quality as wadeable.
However, in this region the standards are set much higher than this through the Horizons One Plan.
Local councils can also choose to prohibit activities that pose unacceptably high risks to the environment, such as prohibiting the release of genetically modified organisms or banning fracking, even if central government is not taking the same action.
Whether a council spends citizens’ rates in a sustainable fashion; whether it builds environmental safeguards into their plans, and more importantly, whether they implement and enforce the rules, all depends on who is making the decisions. This is where voters come in. If people want a council that is proactive and puts environmental sustainability high up the priority list, then they need to vote for those who are going to do this.
Being educated and informed could mean taking the trouble to contact candidates and asking them what they stand for.
By making an informed vote, electors can make a big difference to the environment.
Central government voter turnout at the 2014 general election was over 76 per cent, yet the 2013 local body elections in Palmerston North had a turnout of just 39 per cent.
Imagine what a difference could be made to our environment if more people became informed and engaged and voted in the local body elections.
Postal voting papers arrive this week from September 16 to 22 for return in time for the October 8 deadline.
It is not too late to enrol. Go to elections.org.nz.
Partially funded by regional council rates, this new fish-friendly culvert at Whitebait Creek is so native fish can access spawning grounds.