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Govt must fix RMA rather than pick favourites

Hon Nick Smith MP National Party Environment Spokesman

22 September 2003

Govt must fix RMA rather than pick favourites

"The Government should fix the Resource Management Act for all rather than create sweetheart projects of Jim Anderton's choosing," says National's Environment spokesman Nick Smith.

He's commenting on suggestions that Cabinet will consider a new process in the next month, which would give Jim Anderton the ability to by-pass the RMA for infrastructure projects the Government deems worthy.

"A process of resource consents that has a Minister dishing out favours is wide open to abuse and corruption. The bureaucracy of the Resource Management Act needs to be fixed for all businesses both large and small - not just a select few.

"Jim Anderton's track record in picking favourites is less than impressive - just look at the spectacular failure of Sovereign Yachts in Auckland.

"He promised that New Zealand would benefit to the tune of $600 million in export earnings, while Helen Clark said the Sovereign Yachts project is like 'a dream come true'.

"Both of them were wrong.

"Then there's the example of Helen Clark's close friend Dr Ross Armstrong who was attempting to fast-track infrastructural projects during behind closed doors meetings with Michael Cullen.

"Dr Armstrong lost his job as allegations of a perceived conflict of interest swirled around the Government.

"Helen Clark's Government has a history of working with, rewarding and protecting those who it deems are friendly. It punishes those who it disagrees with.

"The only positive in this announcement is the Government is at last acknowledging that the Resource Management Act has serious problems. It also makes a mockery of claims by Marian Hobbs that the RMA does not need changing.

"The Government would do well to go back and pick up the sensible RMA reforms introduced to Parliament by Simon Upton in 1999, but rejected by Labour in 2000.

"National believes the Government should be taking an even hand to the Resource Management Act and fixing the process to make it easier for everyone, rather than a few chosen favourites," says Dr Smith.


Jim Anderton's Track Record

- The Warehouse received a $75,000 grant from an Industry NZ fund to encourage business growth - this is a company with sales around the $1.4 billion mark in 2002. It has since been forced to repay the money.

- Industry NZ and Technology NZ was promised $1.6 million to theEricsson-Synergy software joint venture which closed late last year

- $100,000 was granted to a gaming machine distributor to be used to monitor pokie proceeds. But the Government ignored that the main business of the company is to move pokie machines around the South Island.

- $67,000 was granted for the writing of several business-related articles for a business magazine.

- Donna Awatere-Huata's Trust received $5000 to put on a fashion show for young designers

- Under privilege in the house, Deborah Coddington revealed TVNZ Chairman Craig Boyce had said to Snowy Peak (clothing manufacturer) that they should "go to my Labour mates and ask for some handouts." Industry NZ has given Snowy Peak six grants totaling $27,620, while Boyce was an adviser to the company and a director Industry NZ. In 2001, Snowy Peak also received a grant of $100,000 for business growth from Industry NZ.

- A 100 year old clothing manufacturer in Christchurch (LWR manufacturing) received a $100,000 business growth grant in 2002.

- EDS received an Industry NZ grant of $1.5M to "create jobs" in a call centre. EDS is a multi-national with an annual turnover of around US$22M. The Ministry of Economic development officials opposed the grant saying "MED does not consider this proposal contains a high enough level of spill over benefits to justify funding'. The Treasury also expressed concern.

- Industry NZ granted $4500 of taxpayer money to Auckland University to develop non-toxic body paint for Maori performing artists. (October 2002)

- Industry NZ hands out $500,000 to investigate new industrial uses for titi (muttonbird) oil, the development of fabric from harakeke (flax), the commercial propagation of edible ferns, the feasibility of mussel spat catching in Whangape Harbour, and the development of technologies supporting eel aquaculture. (15 October 2002)

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