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Communities Against The Fast-track Heartened By ‘Overwhelming’ Public Response; Disgusted By ‘Transparency’ Claims

A new coalition of community groups brought together by their opposition to the proposed Fast-Track Bill say they have been heartened by the overwhelming response from the public against the Bill.

“We’ve been working hard to get the word out there about the threats the Fast-Track Approvals Bill poses to our communities, our environment and local, democratic decision-making, and people have lept into action,” says coordinator of the new ‘CAFT’ (Communities Against the Fast-Track) coalition Augusta Macassey-Pickard.

With submissions closing today, Macassey-Pickard says groups around the country have been supporting a huge range of people to make their submissions.

“It's been overwhelming. Many people are making submissions for the first time in their lives because they are so concerned about the Fast-Track Bill: people from across the board in terms of political persuasion. They see it as a huge over-reach and a government that has gone too far.

“As much as we are horrified about what this Bill would mean for our communities, we are heartened by the response and the public push back against the Fast-Track.”

However, CAFT say they’re disgusted by Minister Chris Bishop’s claims today that he released the names of those the Government invited to apply under the Bill ‘in the interests of transparency’.

“Chris Bishop cannot claim transparency when he released these names due to civil society pressure and after the Ombudsman became involved, hours before submissions close. There’s nothing transparent about that.”

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The list released this afternoon includes the names of companies whose projects have been rejected by communities and by the courts.

“Communities around the county have worked tirelessly to stop some of the most damaging projects that the Bill is trying to resurrect. These projects have been rejected because of how destructive they would be. It’s not ok for three Ministers to steamroll communities so that companies get their way.”

“We can see that locals would be cut out of decisions that could have enormous consequences for their communities, their catchment, their region. The Bill forbids projects being publicly notified so communities wouldn’t even know about a project until it was approved. That’s totally unacceptable and miles away from the localism the Government campaigned on.”

This is just the beginning of the fight against the Bill, CAFT says.

“We’re calling on our councils particularly to push back against the Fast-Track Bill. Even with submissions closing today, our regional elected representatives need to continue to stand up for local decision making and protect our communities’ health and well-being from exploitative industries backed by unscrupulous Ministers.”

CAFT members:
Coromandel Watchdog of Hauraki, Kiwis Against Seabed Mining, Coal Action Network Aotearoa, Climate Justice Taranaki, Environment and Conservation Organisations of NZ (ECO) and individual grassroots community organisers from around the motu.

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