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Think Big? Think again, say Greens

Think Big? Think again, say Greens

The Government is in danger of repeating the folly and failure of the Think Big experiments of the past, Greens Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons warned today.

The Government is reported to be planning to circumvent the Resource Management Act by giving Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton the power to declare big development projects such as those involving energy, water and transport projects, to be of "national significance".

"Overriding local decision making is the mark of a government bereft of ideas and desperate to be seen 'doing something', said Ms Fitzsimons. "What it is 'doing', is taking decision-making away from the communities most affected by Think Big projects and placing it in the hands of one minister.

"We've already had the recent example of the Government overriding the proper decision-making process, by signalling it will legislate to by-pass the regional council and Environment Court in order to allocate water to the Project Aqua power scheme.

"This proposal cuts right across the Government's own strategy for economic development. It has just released a Policy Statement to guide the electricity industry in which it encourages small-scale and renewable energy projects, distributed generation, demand management and energy efficiency.

"Yet there are no plans to fast-track these small, flexible, future-oriented projects. In fact, the more big projects that go ahead, the more the innovative projects of the future will be squeezed out of the market.

"The Government's economic strategy is supposed to be based on innovation and knowledge - but the priority is to be given to the old-fashioned bulldozers," Ms Fitzsimons said. "When will this Government learn from history?

"Two fast-tracked Think Big projects that leap to mind are the Motunui Synthetic Petrol plant and the Clyde high dam. Both were the result of government intervention in the normal planning process. The Synfuel plant was an economic disaster and never broke even and the Clyde dam turned into the most expensive electricity plant we have ever built.

"One can understand Mr Anderton trying to find a niche for his party to the right of Labour, but trying to turn himself into the new Bill Birch is really going a bit too far."

ENDS

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