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UF exposes National hypocrisy on Project Aqua

For immediate release
Thursday, 11 December 2003

United Future exposes National hypocrisy on Project Aqua

United Future leader, Peter Dunne, today slammed the National Party and its environment spokesman, Dr Nick Smith, for their two-faced, hypocritical attitude towards the Project Aqua hydro-power proposal for the Waitaki River.

“Dr Smith claims that National does not oppose Project Aqua, but his party opposes legislation that will allow the country to determine whether it is even possible or desirable for the $1.2 billion scheme to go ahead,” said Mr Dunne.

“The Resource Management (Waitaki Catchment) Amendment Bill, now before Parliament, sets up a process whereby the many applications to use the water of the Waitaki river can be assessed and decisions rationally made on what is the best use for that water.

“This is a very sensible first step in deciding how to use one of the nation’s major resources, and yet National is vehemently opposing it.

“This is not only stupid, it is an appalling example of National’s hypocritical willingness to play childish politics on matters of national importance.

“On the one hand, they want to portray themselves to the people of South Canterbury as fearless defenders of the environment, while at the same time, they have already decided Project Aqua should go ahead, regardless of what the local people think,” he said.

“Dr Smith rants and raves that the legislation is a “fast-track dam Bill” which will see decisions made by hand-picked cronies of Environment Minister Marion Hobbs.

“When the Bill goes to a select committee, United Future will push very hard for those decision makers to be chosen by a process in which the local communities are fully engaged – and we are quietly confident we will succeed.”

Mr Dunne said concerns had been raised that objectors would have too little money to adequately oppose the Project Aqua project. “I agree with that concern and will be pushing the government to ensure all parties can compete on a level playing field.”

United Future’s energy and environment spokesmen, Gordon Copeland and Larry Baldock, will visit south Canterbury in the near future to talk to local people about their concerns and wishes for the Waitaki River.

“When the time comes for the United Future caucus to decide whether it supports the amendment Bill, it will do so on the basis of facts, wide consultation and rational thought – unlike the National Party which has already made both of its minds up and has been reduced to attempting to mislead the public about its true intentions,” said Mr Dunne.

Ends


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