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National hopelessly confused about the Waitaki

National hopelessly confused about the Waitaki

National is hopelessly confused about water allocation in the Waitaki catchment, with three different views about what should happen, Environment Minister Marian Hobbs said today.

The Resource Management (Waitaki Catchment) Amendment Bill, to prepare a water allocation framework for the Waitaki catchment and establish a panel of commissioners to decide on competing applications for the water, is currently before the Local Government and Environment Select Committee.

Marian Hobbs said that in the past two weeks National has had three different positions on the Bill.

"Don Brash said National opposes the legislation because the normal Resource Management Act processes should apply, Nick Smith said National will support the legislation if certain changes are made, and Gerry Brownlee said Project Aqua should be referred directly to the Environment Court for approval.

"Not only are they confused about their position on the legislation, but they don't appear to even understand what it does."

Don Brash has been reported as saying that what was needed, rather than this legislation, was a framework under which competing demands for water could be evaluated.

But Marian Hobbs said that is exactly what this Bill enables.

"It seems to me that National is struggling to find excuses not to vote for the legislation, even though it establishes a fairer process for deciding between the competing applications. They're putting party politics ahead of a better process for the community and the applicants."

The legislation was introduced before Christmas and is being reported back to the House from the Local Government and Environment Select Committee on Monday 22 March. Marian Hobbs said she looked forward to seeing the changes the select committee has made to improve the Bill even further.

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