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Labour unable to support Environmental Reporting Bill

Moana

MACKEY

Environment Spokesperson

5 March 2014 MEDIA STATEMENT

Labour unable to support Environmental Reporting Bill

It is with great disappointment that Labour has decided it is unable to support the first reading of the Environmental Reporting Bill in Parliament today says Labour’s Environment spokesperson Moana Mackey.

“At first glance the Bill seemed like a positive step forward towards an independent, and regular, reporting scheme on the state of the environment. Labour wholeheartedly supports the purpose of the Bill to create a “national-level environmental reporting system to ensure reporting on our environment occurs on a regular basis and can be trusted by the public as independent, fair, and accurate.”

“However while the aim of the bill is laudable, the way the reporting system is proposed to be implemented will not achieve its goals .

“Labour agrees with the need for statutory independence for reports of the type the Bill proposes. Indeed without it the reporting will have no credibility. It is extremely disappointing then that the Bill allows Ministers to control the topics that are to be reported on – one of the most critical factors in any environmental reporting system.

“Instead the critical decision on what topics will be reported on will be left to regulations made on the joint recommendation of the Minister for the Environment and Minister for Statistics.

“There is no reason why Parliament, through this Bill, could not clearly prescribe the matters to be reported upon. That would result in a reporting system that is, and is seen to be, truly independent from Government interference.

“There has been no explanation as to how Ministerial conflicts of interest are intended to be managed. Given the appalling record of this Government on environmental issues how can the public have any confidence that this will not sway their decisions on what will or will not be reported on? The Bill provides fertile ground for judicial reviews against Ministerial decisions.

“Any reassurances given by the Government that they will not abuse the regulation making powers in the Bill hardly inspire confidence given that the same assurances were given on the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Act. The Government used those powers to remove the right of communities to have a say on deep sea exploratory oil drilling – something they explicitly promised they would not do.

“Like the EEZ Act the Government is hoping that a half-hearted ‘better than nothing’ argument will suffice. This is nothing more than election year window dressing and as such we cannot support it.

“Labour is however committed to working constructively at select committee to address these shortcomings and develop a truly robust independent environmental reporting system.”

ENDS


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