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Speech To Rodney AGM By MP Penny Webster

Thursday 17th May 2001 Penny Webster Speech

Last night the Minister of the Environment, Marian Hobbs, showed her complete lack of understanding of the Resource Management Act and its effect on ordinary people.

In reply to a Private Members Bill belonging to Owen Jennings, the Minister launched a tirade about ACT, cronyism, big business and raping and pillaging of the land.

Such tired dogma comes from extremists with absolutely no practical knowledge.

And just what was Owen's dastardly suggestion?

Well, as most of us in this room know - even if the Minister doesn't - there are often times when a simple resource consent takes time and money because of the complicated process.

Owen produced a Member's Bill, proposing that local councils identify 'Authorised Approved Agents' who could, by way of inspection, allow an otherwise controlled consent to become a permitted consent. Are we talking about Big Business? Of course not.

"And as those of you in this room know, we are talking about are the small things.: extending a driveway, building a shed in the garden, removing some vegetation or even rolling over a present consent for effluent disposal on a dairy farm. The little things. But the Minister - whom I would venture to say has never in her life had to apply for a Resource Consent - only thinks of big business.

It is interesting that those of us in the House at the time came to the conclusion that the Minister had the wrong Bill. We believed that she had not even read Owen's Bill, and was actually talking about a part of the main Government Bill that the select committee has been looking at and is due to be reported back next week.

In the Government's Bill, the Regional Councils asked that Consents be heard by a panel of Commissioners. The reason for this was that some of the bigger or more complicated consents have become very technical. If this system was in place, it would allow for Councils to have a group of experts that they could call on to hear these consents.

This is not the first time the Minister has switched around a perfectly reasonable RMA Private Members Bill and made bizarre statements. We can only wonder about her understanding of the day-to-day, down-to-earth issues.

I believe this is what happens when you have a group of people totally removed from the actual "real" world. They only see what they are shown and only hear what they are told.

By that, I mean that they do not experience the actual. If there is a basic lack of understanding, then no "talking" or "seeing" in the world can make up for that.


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