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Community Groups Furious That Government Silencing Hundreds In Fast-Track Hearings

Communities Against the Fast Track is furious that the government is silencing hundreds of New Zealanders in their hearings on the widely condemned Fast-Track Bill.

The Environment Select Committee has just announced that 60 percent of individuals who asked to speak at the hearings will not be heard. This equates to almost 700 people who made individual submissions and more than 1000 more who made a form submission.

“It is absolutely unacceptable that this Government is trying to stop hundreds of people from speaking on their concerns about this Bill. Projects under the Bill will have no public consultation, so this is people’s only opportunity to be heard. This Government appears determined to silence New Zealanders' concerns regarding projects like mining and motorways that will have massive impacts for their communities. It’s disgraceful and undemocratic,” says Communities Against the Fast-Track spokesperson Augusta Macassey-Pickard.

“We expect that everyone who asked to speak will be heard. The implications of this Bill for communities are major. Ministers and the Environment Select Committee must show respect for the public and at the very least make sure people are heard, even if it takes longer..”

Communities Against the Fast-Track sent a letter to Chair of the Environment Select Committee David MacLeod as well as Minister for Resource Management Reform Chris Bishop, Minister for Transport Simeon Brown and Minister for Resources Shane Jones asking for reassurance that the public would be heard. However, there was no response from MacLeod or Ministers.

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“The Government must be scared to hear the opposition to the Fast-Track Bill from the public because they know it’s so unpopular.”

Communities Against the Fast-Track fully acknowledge that select committee staff are working hard and are under extreme pressure. The problem is not the public service.

“Public servants are trying their hardest under a Government that is cutting their resources, slashing their numbers and showing disregard for public input. We want to say kia kaha to the public sector, we know this is Ministers shutting the public down, not you.”

The group says it will continue to support people in their communities and regions to oppose the Bill, and that if people want more information or ways to get involved they can visit their website.

© Scoop Media

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