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Revealed: A climate of hypocrisy at Ecan

The Taxpayers’ Union can reveal that, despite declaring a ‘climate emergency’ on Thursday, Environment Canterbury is the largest spender on combined international and domestic flights of all regional councils, bar Auckland.
 
On one hand, Ecan is making grand gestures indicating ratepayers will have to fork out more for climate change action. But it turns out ratepayers are already paying council staff to create emissions on their way to France, San Francisco, and Germany. One junket in Canada was, ironically, meant to address climate change. Ratepayers will be wishing council staff had just stayed at home.
 
The $21,000 international spend was in addition to a further $241,000 spent on domestic flights. The total $262,000 spent on flights in 2017/18 means Ecan is the seventh-largest spender on flights out of 77 councils across New Zealand, and is (Auckland aside) the highest-spending regional council.*
 
Out of all 77 councils Ecan was also the fourth most frequent flyer with 1,360 domestic flights flown in the 2017/18 financial year.
 
Ecan’s primary functions are local ones, so it’s unclear why any international travel is necessary. Even domestic flights should be limited – in the time of Skype, the cost of constant trips to Wellington is eye-watering and unjustified.
 
The Ministry for the Environment’s advice to those concerned about climate change is very clear: fly less. Ecan should either take this advice, or announce a ‘hypocrisy emergency’ to match its climate one.
 
Background documents:
LGOIMA response
International travel breakdown
 
*Travel expenditure figures for all councils have been obtained by the Union and are set to be released shortly, pending the release of final figures from Auckland Council.


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