Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

Targeting High, Consistent Ethical Standards

Media Release
1 December 2005


Institute Targets High and Consistent Ethical Standards

Environmental professionals have been reminded of the need to be objective and set high ethical standards when acting on behalf of applicants for resource consents.

A seminar for environment professionals, including scientists, consultants and independent advisors has highlighted the role of ethics in achieving the best outcome for resource consent applicants, the environment and the community.

The one-day event in Christchurch was organised by the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand (EIANZ) as part of a programme of continuing professional development in an industry which is essentially unregulated. A range of presenters noted that while ethical standards are generally good, there are still some lingering problems, including:

- Selective referencing of information presented in assessments of environmental effects (AEEs)

- Omission of information that may not be favourable to the applicant’s case

- A tendency to advocate on behalf of clients, leading to a loss of objectivity and a more adversarial process which increases costs for all involved.

Former Environment Court Judge Peter Skelton says selective referencing was “more common than one might think” during his 22 years on the bench, but may have improved in recent years.

There had also been some significant cases of outright inaccuracy. “In one case an international expert from a prestigious institute gave evidence in an application for an LPG pipeline which sounded fine until it was reviewed by a University of Canterbury mathematician. It was found to have fundamental errors that caused a gross underestimating of environmental risks associated with proposal. If it had not been checked we would have been none the wiser, and the conditions placed on the approval could have been quite different.”

Peter Skelton said some expert witness make the mistake of advocating for an outcome. “It is often thought that expert witnesses are “hired guns” who will conveniently provide opinions to support a client’s case because they are being paid to do so.

“Unfortunately, such so-called expert witnesses are not unknown to the law and in particular to resource management litigation. However the great majority of expert witnesses do recognise their duty to be independent and thus retain their integrity and credibility.”

Peter Skelton says the resource consent process should have become less expensive and more efficient, with experience, but this had yet to occur. “It should be getting less adversarial, but it is not, and the problem is not in the way the Resource Management Act is worded.”

The EIANZ event urged environment practitioners to be vigilant on good ethical practice by taking a collegial approach and being open to advice and feedback from others.

Co-organiser Leo Fietje says the resource consent process is often hampered by misleading information, significant omissions and selective use of data, leading to increased need for review which results in time delays, increased costs and unnecessary stress all round.

“In my experience applicants who tell it like it is can easily halve the time taken to process their resource consents, because all of the information is there and there is no need for further investigation. In many cases a decision can be made in minutes if the applicant’s representative is thorough and objective.”

“We are essentially an unregulated profession in which people make a living by giving their professional advice, and so it is very important that we are able to self regulate through a professional body that provides guidance and encourages good professional practice.”

EIANZ is considering offering a similar event in other major centres, and may also form an ethics sub group to focus on further professional development.

About EIANZ
The Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand is an association of environmental practitioners established to facilitate interaction among environmental professionals; promote environmental knowledge and awareness; and advance ethical and competent environmental practice.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Peters/Ardern Triumph

There are a lot of good reasons to feel joyful about this outcome. It is what so many young voters – the best hope for the country’s future – wanted.

Far more important than the implications for the Economy Gods ( is the dollar up or down? ) last night’s outcome will also mean many, many vulnerable New Zealanders will have a better life over the next three years at least.

Yet the desire for change was in the majority, across the country..>>>More


Reaction

Labour on its agreement |Peters: Post-Election Announcement Speech | Greenpeace “cautiously hopeful” about new Government | ACT - Madman on the loose | E tū ecstatic | Chamber welcomes the outcome | Greens on their joining Govt | EDS welcomes new govt | Immigrant groups worry | Feds ready to engage new coalition government | Labour Ministers of the Crown announced

 

Climate: Increasing Greenhouse Emissions Hit NZ

New Zealand is seeing impacts of excess greenhouse gas emissions in our climate and oceans, according to the latest national report from the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ about the state of the atmosphere and climate…More>>

ALSO:


Wellington.Scoop: Arrests At Blockade Of "Weapons Expo"

“We encourage people in Wellington to get down to the Westpac Stadium now for a day of awesome peace action. There will be plenty of food, music and activities to keep us sustained through the day.” More>>

ALSO:

Rorschach Restructuring: PSA Taking Inland Revenue To Court Over Psychometrics

The Public Service Association will be seeing Inland Revenue in Employment Court over its intention to psychometrically test employees reapplying for their roles at the department as part of its controversial Business Transformation restructuring plan. More>>

ALSO:

Nuclear Disarmament: Nobel Peace Prize 2017 Awarded To ICAN

Congratulations from iCAN Aotearoa New Zealand to international iCAN, the other iCAN national campaigns and partner organisations, and the countless organisations and individuals who have worked so hard for a nuclear weapons-free world since 1945. More>>

ALSO:

Expenses: Waikato DHB CEO Resigns

An independent inquiry has identified that Dr Murray had spent more than the agreed $25K allocated for relocation costs, and other unauthorized expenses involving potential financial breaches of the chief executive’s obligations. More>>

ALSO:

Wellington.Scoop: Sad About The Trolley Buses?

The Regional Council’s MetLink is today spending money to tell us that it really loves Wellington’s trolley buses, even though they’re all being taken off our roads by the end of this month. More>>

ALSO:

Post-Election: Preliminary Coalition Talks Begin

New Zealand First will hold post-election preliminary discussions in Wellington with the National Party tomorrow morning and the Labour Party tomorrow afternoon. More>>

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election