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ACT Condemned Over Blocking Marine Reserve

The intractability of the ACT party in blocking passage this week of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Bill is an indication of the contempt which that party has for the environment and the interests of the people of Greater Auckland, says Terry Dunleavy, chairman of Bluegreens Northern.

"Informally with the new government we had raised the possibility of passing the bill this week before the Christmas recess. Thanks to some smart work by the new Minister for the Environment Sandra Lee, and the Minister assisting the Prime Minister on Auckland issues, Judith Tizard, the government agreed to include the final stages and passage of the bill in its tight programme for the rest of this week. My understanding is that three hours was to be set aside for this purpose, and all parties agreed, with the sole exception of ACT.

"It was our hope that the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park would be in place prior to the commencement of the Louis Vuitton regatta to find the challenger to meet Team New Zealand for the America's Cup. This will be a time when world attention will focus not just on New Zealand, but on the gulf in particular. Here was a unique and unparalleled opportunity to tell the world about New Zealand's commitment to environmental values in a way that would add value to the products and services which rely for success in international markets on our clean, green image.

"Here was a time to put petty politicking aside, and to take a united stand on a concept which makes both economic and environmental sense. ACT's cynical opportunism in blocking early passage of a Bill which they know has otherwise the support of all other parties, demonstrates that party's utter disinterest in environmental values, and its inability, or unwillingness, to try understand the aims of the legislation," said Mr Dunleavy.

"The claim by ACT deputy leader Ken Shirley that the Bill creates a new layer of bureaucracy demonstrates his refusal to even try to understand its purpose. The fact is that, it creates no new bureaucracy.

Administrative and bureaucratic processes will remain the prerogative and responsibility of the 13 local authorities whose areas bound the gulf. What the bill does do is to provide a vehicle by which those 13 local authorities can harmonise their resource consent and management processes in the interest of the one third of New Zealand's population who live, work and play in the proposed new marine park and its immediate environs.

"Coming so soon after its attempted spoiling tactics with the Rangitikei recount, it now seems that ACT sees itself as creating a bovver boy image, rather than wishing to play a constructive role in legislation for which, as in this case, there is a clear mandate, not only among all other political parties, but among the people of greater Auckland. I hope that ACT may yet give urgent reconsideration to its position on this historic bill," said Mr Dunleavy.

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