The Green Party has been accused of “subverting the democratic process” by lobbying Environment Canterbury (ECan) on behalf of individuals without their knowledge.
Four people were surprised to receive emails from ECan thanking them for their submission on the region’s proposed bus changes when they had not submitted.
A further 20 submissions, of the 165 submissions sent in by the Greens, were found to have incorrect email addresses.
ECan received 2357 submissions for its proposed bus changes.
All submissions from the Greens were a standard response asking for more investment in public transport and more services for elderly.
Emails given to The Press by ECan, with personal information removed, showed people were unimpressed.
“I nevet [sic] sent this email! How did this happen?” one said.
“I actually didn’t give permission for the Green Party to send that submission on my behalf,” another said.
Another questioned the ethics of the practice.
“It does not accurately represent my thoughts . . . I’m not sure I agree ethically with this practice.”
Green Party MP Eugenie Sage said it was an “attempt to engage the public that had gone wrong”.
According to the telephone script, those contacted were asked if their name could added to the Greens’ submission.
“Some people may not have been aware that there was a submission being sent in on their behalf after the phone conversation,” she said. . . .
Spamming submissions is bad enough, doing it without the permission of people purporting to be making them is even worse.
“We were using a new method of public engagement, having people call people on our database to alert them to the submission process,” she said.
It been abandoned in Christchurch because of the botch-up but would continue to be used elsewhere. . .
It isn’t clear whether they’ll seek people’s permission to use their names but it is clear they will continue to spam submissions.