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Environmental Destruction Fast Tracking Bill

New Zealand’s environment and international reputation have both been put in great jeopardy today by the coalition government’s Fast Track Bill, says Cath Wallace, for the Environment and Conservation Organisations of NZ (ECO).

The Bill proposes a rubber stamp process for automatic approval of proposals with huge environmental impacts and to disallow an expert panel from recommending that proposals be declined.

"Ministers would make decisions on a fast track process. The proposal is against good government: it puts arrogant and reckless Ministers in charge of environmental decisions and overrides environmental law, the Wildlife Act, aspects of the Conservation Act and the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf Act.

The projects to achieve the fast tracking process have yet to be revealed. “It is apparent that the mining, aquaculture and infrastructure projects that are to be given priority.”

The vested interests behind these industries have been assiduous in wooing the Ministers. Leaving project and proposal decision making to be made by resource Ministers is an invitation to moral hazard and corruption.

The Luxon government appears to be a government for and by vested interests. The public interest and public voices are to be stifled and given to Ministers who are frank about their disregard for environmental consequences.

The fast-track legislation proposal has been put forward on the basis of promoting infrastructure. This legislation goes way beyond that.

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Mining and aquaculture are not infrastructure. Everyone with a concern for the environment, conservation land, for the future of NZ democracy, and for due process will be alarmed at this Bill.

ECO calls on the National Party and anyone in the other parties who cares about good government, due process and the environment to step in and stop this Bill and its proposed abuse of power.

The proposals to give decision making to individual ministers, especially to those who are proud that they don’t give a toss for environmental damage, and are dismissive of due process and even of the extinction of species, should be stopped.

Luxon and National must step in and to protect both the environment and New Zealand’s international reputation.

He needs to provide leadership and govern for all New Zealand, not to just indulge vested interests such as mining and fishing companies, at the expense of the public and our futures and the environment.

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