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National and ACT utterly confused over Waitaki

11 December 2003 Media Statement

National and ACT utterly confused over Waitaki

National and ACT are contradicting their own policies on water allocation in the Waitaki, and simply do not understand the process proposed under the Resource Management (Waitaki Catchment) Amendment Bill, Environment Minister Marian Hobbs said today.

"Nick Smith and Ken Shirley clearly don't understand the legislation," Marian Hobbs said. "If they did, they would realise the Bill establishes a process for making decisions, but does not determine any particular outcome."

Both parties wrongly claim the government is "fast-tracking" Project Aqua under the Waitaki legislation, which is now with Parliament's Local Government and Environment Committee for public submission. The government, the Green Party and United Future, support the bill.

"The bill establishes a process to allocate water in the Waitaki River and does not single out any particular project to be advanced over others," Marian Hobbs said.

"What's more, it is both National and ACT's policy to support Project Aqua. I favour no particular outcome and am focused on the process. But they are accusing me of fast-tracking Project Aqua, which is something they would do if they had half a chance.

"What they want is 'Clyde Dam-style' legislation that delivers Project Aqua, rather than a proper process to see whether it should go ahead or not."

The Bill amends the Resource Management Act 1991 to deal with significant, competing proposals seeking to use the limited water resources of the Waitaki Catchment. It provides a process to consider the merits of the various applications.

"The Bill aims to achieve a fair, prompt and transparent decision-making process, taking into account local, regional and national issues and ensuring that environmental, social, economic and cultural concerns are addressed," Marian Hobbs said.

ENDS

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