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Gov Abuses Process To Fast Track Hydro Scheme Bill

Nick Smith
National Environment Spokesperson

10 December 2003

Govt. abuses process to fast track hydro scheme bill

National's Environment spokesperson Nick Smith says it is outrageous that the Government is rushing through a special bill to fast track the biggest hydro development in 30 years while the nation is on holiday.

The bill was given its first reading tonight with the support of Labour, United and the Green Parties. Labour and United voted to fast track the legislation, with the Greens abstaining.

"Normally, a select committee has six months to consider a bill, whereas this bill must be reported back by the end of March despite Parliament going into recess for the next eight weeks," says Dr Smith.

"This is a draconian bill designed to smooth the way especially for the Government's own company Meridian to build a 580 MW, six-dam project on New Zealand's fourth largest river. The bill cuts off appeal rights, skews the law in favour of the scheme and has people answerable only to the Minister making the decisions.

"It is extraordinary that the Greens and United voted for this bill. The Green Party has sold out on the environmental movement that will cost them dearly. The United Party, only a month ago, signed a deal with Outdoor Recreation New Zealand, yet is backing legislation strongly opposed by South Island recreational interests.

"The Government's mistaken and arrogant in thinking it can pull this swiftie on the people of the South Island.

"We simply ask the Government to apply the same rules to this project that apply to every other project in New Zealand. If Labour proceeds with this bill and the associated shonky process, its days of support in the South Island are numbered," says Dr Smith.


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