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Dr Smith misdiagnoses RMA

20 June 2005 Media Statement
Dr Smith misdiagnoses RMA

"No one will be surprised Dr Smith is wrong in his diagnosis of changes to the Resource Management Act," says Associate Environment Minister David Benson-Pope.

"There is no direct referral in the Bill as returned from the select committee.

"Direct referral, as advocated by Dr Smith, was a silly idea in 1999, when the National Party proposed it and it remains silly today.

"His direct referral was a means by which any applicant could by-pass local decision-making and elevate their case directly to the Environment Court, irrespective of the merit of the case.

"This government prefers to leave decision making where it belongs – with local communities.

"Dr Smith is confused with the new ministerial referral which has been recommended by the select committee. This is when councils decide there is an important issue of national significance involved, and ask the Minister to assist.

"The Minister has a menu of possible options available," said Mr Benson-Pope. "One of which is ministerial referral to the Environment Court."

Mr Benson-Pope says Dr Smith is wrong again in claiming the government supports de novo hearings in the Environment Court that take no account of initial council hearings.

"The clear recommendation of the select committee is that if a matter proceeds to the Environment Court, the court must consider the deliberations of the initial council hearing.

"The focus of this Bill has always been on empowering local communities and that is why it has received extensive support from councils around New Zealand."


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