Gulf Bill But Not At All Costs
There are more serious reasons causing the delay of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Bill than any concerns which Warren Kyd MP or Murray McLean MP may have says Hunua MP, Warren Kyd. The statement that the Bill has been held up solely because of their concern is wrong. The Bill will probably go ahead.
As MP for Hunua which is a rural electorate containing a substantial stretch of the Gulf coastline, Mr Kyd says he has a special responsibility which he has a duty to fulfill. Many farms in his electorate are in the Gulf catchment area. He is M.P. for many fishermen, marine farmers and residents on the Gulf. Some families have farmed, fished and lived in the Gulf since the early days of the colony. Generally they are opposed to the Bill since they consider it will make it more difficult for them to carry out the farming, fishing and cultivating muscles and oysters. Large numbers of residents on the Gulf and islands are strongly opposed to the Bill as are fishing organisations and Federated Farmers.
There is evidence Mr Kyd said that their concerns are well founded and many have obtained advice on the matter.
It is ironic that Maori interests are also opposing the Bill since the Bill really is a milestone for Maori in that it is probably the first statute that gives Maori a strong voice in local government. It even protects their “spiritual values” (whatever that may mean). The opposition of many Maori MPs has been an important factor in delaying the Bill.
Although the giving of statutory recognition to the Hauraki Gulf Forum seems unnecessary this is not the aspect which causes most concern. The Forum has actually been meeting for two years without any statute and on a voluntary basis. Many people in local government have opposed this Bill although they are happy to meet voluntarily as members of the Forum. The Forum will meet, provide advice, appear as a witness and have the wide powers “reasonably necessary” to carry out its function. It can commission research and receive reports. It is understood they have quite ambitious research planned. However, the Bill adds little to their powers and obligations but will add to their costs.
Costs will be borne partly by local government which will mean increased rates and Regional Council levies. The Ministry of Conservation will pay for the cost of the Forum in connection with the six Maori members and this will not be cheap. Somebody will have to pay – ultimately taxpayers and ratepayers.
Mr Kyd says he will not withhold his approval because of the creation of the Forum and the Marine Park. However, these are not the main problems. These are the changes it brings to planning for the Auckland and Waikato regions. Planning is presently based on the Resource Management Act but most of the Auckland region and the catchment area of Auckland (and the Waikato area for that matter) will have more rigorous planning requirements because of the Bill.
The new principles to be taken into
account in planning for the land within the catchment area
of the Gulf are -
“the protection and where appropriate the enhancement of the life supporting capacity of the environment of the Hauraki Gulf, its islands and catchments”.
Another new principle is -
“the protection and where appropriate the enhancement of these resources including Kaimoana of the Hauraki Gulf, its islands and catchments with which the Tangata Whenua have an historic traditional, cultural and spiritual relationship”.
My Kyd says these new requirements will impose increased requirements on planning in the region and will make it difficult for business, building, subdivision and indeed roading and other activities. All district regional policy statements and plan resource consents must not conflict with these new principles and all local authorities must take steps within five years of the new Act to comply. New planning principles contradict the need to reduce the cost of planning and compliance with the Resource Management Act. They will be marvellous levers for the politically correct.
The problem is, says Mr Kyd, these terms are so vague that no-one really knows what they mean. Why, says Mr Kyd, was not the Resource Management Act good enough? Why should people living in Auckland have tougher and probably more costly planning requirements than the rest of New Zealand? It would seem that for anyone building a house, doing a subdivision, setting up a business or factory and for local government itself there will be stronger and more costly planning requirements than at present. It will be little solace to many that the extra costs they face will be a bonanza for lawyers and planners.
The Bill will not do much to help the Gulf. The main problems of Auckland, which are well known, are past inaction. We still pass raw sewerage into the Auckland harbour when there is heavy rain and we still have tremendous pollution entering the harbour emanating from motor vehicles. Local government, which has to bear the enormous costs has been slow to act in the important matters.
Fishermen and marine farmers are concerned because by an amendment to the Fisheries Act the requirements of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act become part of fishing law. Thus, fixing of quotas and matters relating to fishing in the Gulf will be subject to these stricter requirements in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Bill. Fishermen presently complain at the cost of complying with the Fisheries Act and the restrictions placed on them. Now if they are fishing or marine farming in the Hauraki Gulf, which covers an area from north of Leigh right down to the southern side of the Coromandel Peninsula, they are going to face tougher requirements. The Hauraki Gulf has some of the best fishing waters in New Zealand. Do we need to trammel fishers with uncertain and unnecessary legislation.
The Bill will probably pass, says Mr Kyd even though the Bill was reported back to the House very close to the election leaving little time. Before it is passed he wants some things to be sorted out. His consent to the Bill will not be withheld on the basis of the Forum or the setting up of the Marine Park.