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Offensive Clauses Of The Electricity Industry Bill

27 February 2001 PR 29/2001

Federated Farmers Urges Select Committee To Throw Out Offensive Clauses Of The Electricity Industry Bill

Federated Farmers' Vice President, Tom Lambie roundly criticised the Government for pushing through amendments to the Electricity Act without giving the many thousands of affected landowners the opportunity to express their concerns. Mr Lambie was presenting the federation's submission to the Commerce Committee on the Electricity Industry Bill today.

"The Bill is seeking to use the power of Parliament to impose draconian retrospective legislation," said Mr Lambie. "It removes the rights of landowners to dispute the lawfulness of electricity infrastructure on their property, or to formalise land access arrangements."

"There is no doubt that privatisation of the electricity transmission and distribution companies has raised serious issues with ownership and land access rights. This problem has been around for 10 years. There is no need to rush it through now".

The issue was not raised by the Ministerial Inquiry into the Electricity Industry, yet the Inquiry recommended retrospective policy "deeming that electricity pylons and poles have been legally 'fixed' on private land.

"Federated Farmers knows of cases where farmers have had fixtures placed on their property without the landowners knowledge or agreement", said Mr Lambie.

"The offending clauses will remove the landowners right to seek redress. People must be given the opportunity to protect their rights." Several examples were put before the committee today.

Neither the General Policy Statement at the front of the Bill nor the newspaper advertisements referred to this significant policy change. "It is abhorrent for the government to push through such a retrospective challenge to the legal rights of several thousand landowners, hidden in this Bill".

"These landowners play an important role in allowing the transmission and distribution of electricity throughout New Zealand. Due process must be followed and the landowners affected given the opportunity to present their case," concluded Mr Lambie.

ENDS


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