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Access to Justice Denied Under New Criteria

Media Release


Access to Justice Denied Under New Criteria

Coromandel Watchdog of Hauraki spokesperson Augusta Macassey-Pickard says the organisation is disgusted to learn that the Government has quietly introduced new criteria for the Environmental Legal Assistance Fund that will restrict non profit groups from being able to access the fund, in favour of economic interests.

The changes, introduced at the end of June, prescribe a new requirement to consider whether a grant would “contribute to impeding or delaying the ability of people and communities to provide for their social, economic and cultural well-being in relation to important needs, including employment, housing and infrastructure”.

The new criteria apply to deliberations by the panel, who consider whether to grant assistance with expert witness and legal costs, to environmental and community groups.

“The fund was originally set up using some of the Rainbow Warrior settlement funding to enable the environmental aspects of developments to properly be tested for the public good. Now, if someone has an economic or social interest in activities that will damage the environment, communities and groups will not get legal aid to make their case,” says Macassey-Pickard.

“The government is running roughshod over communities, the environment and democracy. Changing the rules to favour economic interests when our environment is crucial to our way of life is illogical, and shows that they are very out of touch with what most Kiwis want.”

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