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Fast Track Bill, Already Mired In Corruption Scandal, Should Be Pulled

Greenpeace says that National MP David MacLeod being referred to the police for undeclared donations has undermined public confidence in the process for examining the Fast Track Bill and the bill must be dumped.

Russel Norman says "The fast track bill was already rotten to the core, and now having David MacLeod MP, who chaired the Environment select committee overseeing the Bill, referred to police for undeclared donations underlines just how bad it is.

"The bill should be thrown in the bin."

Based on the information in the public domain, MacLeod may face charges of corrupt practice under s209B of the Electoral Act.

"One of MacLeod’s undeclared donations came from a major shareholder in the seabed mining company TTR that may benefit significantly from the Fast Track Bill. The fast track process is the only way the company has any chance of getting its destructive business off the ground," says Norman.

"David MacLeod had a major undeclared conflict of interest while chairing the Environment Committee overseeing the Fast Track Bill. He had taken donations from someone with a significant financial interest in seeing the bill passed, yet he had unlawfully failed to declare these donations.

"This undeclared conflict of interest means that MacLeod has undermined the democratic process for considering the bill and may himself face charges of corrupt practice. How many submitters opposing the bill who were never heard by the Committee will now wonder if MacLeod had a role in the decision not to be heard?

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"This incident has illustrated the conflict of interest risk of the fast track approvals bill, and how out of step the Luxon Government is with what New Zealanders value."

Recent polling showed that almost 9 out 10 New Zealand voters do not want more development if it means further damage to nature, and large percentages of both National and NZ First voters have concerns about the Fast Track Bill.

"This conflict of interest risk is made worse by the role of Minister Chris Bishop. As the National Party Campaign Chair, Chris Bishop, is likely to have much greater knowledge than David MacLeod as to which companies and individuals have given money to the National Party. If these donations were under $15,000 prior to 2023, and under $5000 from 2023, the identity of the donor can be lawfully kept secret from the public. Yet Bishop is one of the three Ministers who will have the right to approve projects under the Fast Track Bill. None of us will know if Bishop has undeclared conflicts of interest when considering these applications because we don’t know the identity of all National’s donors.

"This disastrous bill should be scrapped.

"We expect to see large numbers turn out tomorrow at Aotea Square in Auckland from across the political spectrum who value democracy and nature. People are repelled by the stench of corruption emanating from the Beehive right now, as we see one donation scandal after another linked to the Fast Track Bill.

"New Zealanders treasure the wild places of Aotearoa. They don’t want to see forests and oceans turned to open-cast mines. They don’t want to see rivers and lakes turned to sewers, and they don’t want to see precious wildlife condemned to extinction," says Norman.

Greenpeace, Forest & Bird, Communities Against the Fast Track, Coromandel Watchdog, Kiwis Against Seabed Mining, and a host of environmental and community groups have organised the March for Nature, which kicks off with a rally at 1pm this Saturday, June 8, at Aotea Square. As march day approaches, more groups are joining.

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