Blue Greens Submission On West Coast Bill
What follows if of interest is the text of the submission to the Local Government & Environment Committee at its sitting in Christchurch today, presented by BG's Canterbury spokesman John Knox:
SUBMISSION ON FORESTS (WEST COAST ACCORD) BILL
1. Bluegreens is a multi-partisan group of environmentally conscious people throughout New Zealand who have gathered together voluntarily to advise the National Party on environmental, cultural and heritage issues. Our alignment to the National Party springs from a belief that National alone shares our views that prosperity for all New Zealanders can be assisted by a sensible approach to the sustainable management of the unique resources with which our country is blessed.
2. Bluegreens urge the withdrawal of the Forests (West Coast Accord) Bill, for the following reasons: 2.1 The intent of the Bill is a breach of the sanctity of contract. In Clause 3, Interpretations, West Coast Accord lists the signatories to the Accord. We submit that the signatories are not only entitled to expect their commitment to be honoured, but that there is an obligation on such signatories, including the Crown, to ensure the honouring of the commitments entered into 2.2 Part 1, Clause 5: We submit that the retrospective validation of the ending of the Accord is in conflict with the rules of natural justice, and is contrary to the principle of certainty which ought to apply to legal agreements willingly entered into by the Crown and parties deemed appropriate as signatories to Accords such as this. 2.3 Part 1, Clause 7: We submit that it is inappropriate and contrary to natural justice for the Crown to repudiate an accord entered into in good faith with various parties, and then to decree by legislative fiat, that no compensation shall be payable to any party suffering loss or damage therefrom.
2.4 Part 2, Clause 7: We submit that the proposal to empower "responsible Ministers" to make declarations on the future status of the lands in question by notice in the Gazette is a reprehensible departure from previous longstanding conventions which prescribe that no areas shall be added to national parks without reference to the New Zealand Conservation Authority. It has long been held by conservation groups that this process is essential if the integrity of the National Parks Act is to be maintained.
3. Bluegreens wishes to express extreme concern at the use of this Bill as a legislative bludgeon not only to enforce a breach of the contract entered into by the signatories to the West Coast Accord, thus throwing doubt on the integrity of New Zealand Governments to honour contracts which the Crown itself has promoted, but also to bypass existing legal and administrative processes designed to test environmental proposals. In this case, it is not just that Parliament is being called on to break the West Coast Accord, but that this comes on top of a Ministerial decision to prevent a serious proposal for the sustainable management of West Coast native forests from being tested in the Environment Court in accordance with procedures laid down in the Resource Management Act. In our view, this is a gross misuse of Parliamentary procedure in that well established processes are over-ridden for what can only be described as political purposes. We fear for the future of the protection of New Zealand's unique environment if this sets a precedent for the use of Parliamentary process to achieve politically expedient goals at the expense of what is in the long term interests of the conservation and enhancement of New Zealand flora and fauna.
4. For the foregoing reasons, Bluegreens calls for the withdrawal of the Bill, and for the establishment, with the agreement of all parties and members of Parliament, of an independent Commission of Inquiry to examine issues relating to the sustainable management of New Zealand's native forest resources and the native birds and animals for which such forests are a traditional and natural habitat.