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Court finds against race based RMA process

Dr Nick Smith MP National Party Environment Spokesman

12 March 2004

Court finds against race based RMA process

National Party Environment spokesman Nick Smith is challenging the Wellington Regional Council to change its policy of having one Maori Commissioner sit in on every Resource Consent application.

His call comes in the wake of a significant Environment Court ruling.

"The Environment Court has confirmed there is no justification for a blanket policy of having a Maori Commissioner sit on every consent application.

Dr Smith is referring to a farmer's battle with the Wellington Regional Council over costs for a resource consent hearing over access. The farmer was told he would have to pay almost $21,000 and appealed to the Environment Court.

"In this case, part of the excessive cost has been blamed on a WRC policy of having three Commissioners hear every application, including one Maori Commissioner.

"The Environment Court has found that while it might be reasonable in some situations to have a Maori Commissioner to give guidance on cultural issues, this was no justification for a blanket policy of having a Maori Commissioner sit on every resource consent application. As a result, the Court decided the blanket policy was unlawful.

"In this case, for example, there were no 'Maori' issues at all.

"This is a prime example of the Government sponsored culture of ill-conceived political correctness. The Government is telling people to comply with Treaty principles and then casting them adrift without proper advice about what their obligations actually are

"The WRC should move to change its policy, while every other council in the country should be reviewing their own practices," says Dr Smith.

Ends

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