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Bill promised to uphold Environment Court decision

11 March 2006

Hon Nick Smith National Environment Spokesman

Nats promise bill to uphold Environment Court decision

A bill upholding the Environment Court’s decision on the Whangamata Marina project will be tabled in Parliament this week, National MPs Nick Smith and Sandra Goudie promised a public meeting in the town today.

The meeting of 380 people unanimously passed a resolution that the Environment’s Court decision be upheld and that the ministerial veto power be removed from law. They also passed a vote of no confidence in Conservation Minister Chris Carter.

“Chris Carter’s decision to overturn decisions of the Environment Court, the Department of Conservation, the Regional Council and the District Council is a constitutional outrage,” Dr Smith, National’s Environment Spokesman, says.

“National will table a bill in Parliament on Tuesday when Parliament resumes to remove this ministerial veto and to uphold the decisions of the Environment Court.

“The last time a minister abused this power was Sandra Lee over a development at Whitianga. Parliament saw fit to overturn her decision, and should do so again.

“We’ve also lodged a letter with the Speaker seeking an urgent debate. We cannot have ministers overruling decisions of the Principal Environment Court Judge without proper parliamentary scrutiny.

“The Minister of Conservation writes and approves the National Coastal Plan, approves every regional coastal plan, appoints a member to every hearing committee on coastal applications, and has the right to appeal any decision of a hearing committee or the Environment Court.

“This is ample influence over the process, without the minister also having a veto.

“National has repeatedly sought this reform of the Resource Management Act to give greater certainty to the process. This gross injustice at Whangamata by Chris Carter must now trigger reform of the law.”

ENDS

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