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Waitaki Bill Changes A Step In The Right Direction

Waitaki Bill Changes A Step In The Right Direction

New Zealand First says that changes to the Resource Management (Waitaki Catchment) Amendment Bill mean that it will now be able to support the bill.

“New Zealand First argued in the first reading of the bill that the commissioners should be determined by local authorities,” said local government spokesperson Jim Peters.

“This provision is now included in the bill. The original bill also contravened the Resource Management Act by allowing for practically unhindered ministerial direction, but this has now been amended by the Local Government and Environment Select Committee.

“New Zealand First will seek two amendments to the bill, one which covers the appeal process to the Environment Court, and one which addresses matters concerning the appointment of the Panel of Commissioners,” said Mr Peters.

“Our position has always been that this bill is about water allocation, not Project Aqua. Decisions related to Project Aqua and irrigation matters will be made by the Panel of Commissioners.

“New Zealand First agrees with the contention of McKenzie Country farmers that the 1969 Order in Council gave legitimate expectations as to future irrigation water rights. While we await further Court deliberation on this matter, the removal of section 31 in the original bill should result in an “even playing field” and a “total catchment approach.”

“This bill fulfills a need for an independent group to devise an equitable water allocation framework for the Waitaki catchment. Utmost must be the sustainability of the river for present and future generations,” said Mr Peters.

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