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ACT Releases Environment & Conservation Policy

In Greymouth today to launch ACT New Zealand's Environment and Conservation policy, ACT Leader Hon Richard Prebble said that the West Coast had become a symbol of political parties' commitment to Heartland New Zealand.

"As the Leader of the ACT Party, I have come to Greymouth on the West Coast to give my Party's commitment to the West Coast as a place where New Zealanders are entitled to live, to have jobs, and to raise their families. ACT has always supported the accord that the people of the West Coast signed up to in good faith. That accord must be honoured.

"ACT has chosen to release our Environment and Conservation policy here on the West Coast and I challenge the other party leaders to come to the West Coast, to come to Greymouth, and set out their political views. The ACT Party completely rejects the notion that the West Coast should be kept as a nature reserve for Aucklanders.

"Indeed, I say to the Labour Party that if Helen Clark is not willing to front up to a public meeting on the West Coast then that Party should either change its policies or its leader. There has never been a leader of the Labour Party who was not proud to come to the West Coast - Labour's political birthplace.

"The West Coast is an appropriate place to release our policy because the environmental values of the West Coast are not just of national importance - they are of world importance. Good environmental policies not only protect our environment, but also balance economic and social aspects. It's ACT's view that the present environmental laws are unnecessarily bureaucratic, poorly designed, anti-development, and they do not respect or recognise private property rights.

"ACT believes that a core principle of our environmental law should be based on one of the fundamental principles of the common law- that a property owner is responsible for their own property and is strictly liable for any damage or nuisance caused to others. If we uphold this principle then we do not need layers of red tape, masses of regulations, bureaucracy and armies of snoopers.

The Resource Management Act is producing excesses. The ACT Party pledges to amend that Act so that it works in the way it was intended to. The Act should not be used by commercial competitors to prevent legitimate economic activity. The Act should be used only to mitigate nuisances that are affecting other properties and not to dictate to property owners economic and cultural activities.

ACT is totally opposed to the Labour/Alliance proposal to extend legal aid to any busy-body group that wants to take landowners to the Environment Court.

ACT points out that the real damage being done to our native forests is being caused by pests such as the possum and if the Department of Conservation was to be as successful in controlling the possum as the country's private forest and land owners, then we would be able to mitigate what is an environmental disaster.

ACT wants to see much greater use being made of voluntary organisations such as Fish and Game Councils who have a superior record of environmental stewardship compared to the Government.

Private property owners have the incentive to be good stewards instead of being treated as irresponsible by Parliament. We should be looking for a partnership. We can have a strong economy, responsible people and good environmental stewardship," said Hon Richard Prebble.

ENDS

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