Angling-Conservation Group Sees Fast Track Bill as Undemocratic

Special Report

A national angling conservation group opposes the government’s proposed legislation for fast track approvals for development projects.
Principal reasons for the opposition is the loss of the public’s democratic right to have “a fair say” and the vital need for a government free from corruption, said Casey Cravens of Dunedin, president of the New Zealand Federation Freshwater Anglers.  
“This bill is the worst environmental legislation since Muldoon’s National Development Act of 1979.  The Fast-track Approvals Bill violates public interest and would lead to rash exploitation of natural resources with no regard for environmental consequences,” he said.
“It is short-sighted, lacks transparency, and ignores an evidence-based approach to decision making.  This legislation is profoundly undemocratic and may violate many of our most basic laws—from the Resource Management Act to the Treaty of Waitangi to the Conservation Act, the Reserves Act and the Wildlife Act.” 
The bill’s proposed processes for “fast-tracking”  adds further to the erosion of democracy  that the National Party started when in 2010, it sacked the democratically elected government of Environment Canterbury, he said. 
“As the Environmental Defence Society has pointed out, this is ministerial overreach.”
Cravens also called for the public comment period on the bill – which was limited to two weeks
and under-promoted – be extended so the public could catch up to speed on the most sweeping constitutional change in almost 50 years. 
The New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers (NZFFA) is a politically independent, advocacy for trout and salmon recreational fishing, the habitat of rivers, lakes and streams  and the environment generally.
The bill proposes by-passing the normal select committee process where the public can voice their concerns. It also privileges development over sustainability.
Don’t Diminish Democracy
New Zealanders deserve affordable housing, a restored responsive public health system and a robust economy, Cravens said.  
“But the solution is not in diminishing democracy and environmental science but rather in cutting needless bureaucracy.”
If passed into law, the bill will result in three Ministers having the sole final decision without any public input.
The Ministers have unbridled power to ignore public opinion and the public interest by

  • By excluding the public and failing to provide reasons for fast-tracking certain projects, the approval process creates the appearance that corporate consultants and other money-driven individuals will have free reign to lobby ministers without scrutiny.

  • One minister will decide the composition of the Fast Track Advisory Group, with the sole aim intensive development with no attempt at sustainable policy. 

  • Appointments to the proposed Fast Track Advisory Group will be entirely at the discretion of a minister whose sole objective will be to increase economic growth. No criteria for membership of the group has been listed. 
On potential corruption, Mr Cravens said there were past examples of big business donating to a political party or candidate in return for later favourable considerations.  This has long been the case with New Zealand’s freshwater crisis and also with the sea fishing industry.
Advice indicates there are fast-track provisions already in place which enable reasonable  decision-making on major projects within reasonable time without trampling over environmental protections. 
“The NZFFA understands that approvals, on average, are under 100 days, a reasonable time for any proposal and importantly a reasonable time for public input,” he said.
The Federation considers the action of minister Chris Bishop in canvassing commercial interests even before public submissions have been heard, as injudicious and pre-empting the select committee process.
“The Federation joins the calls of the environmental community and others for reopening the public comment period on this legislation, which was only two weeks and under-promoted,” he said.

Contact: Casey Cravens 027 346 6903 

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13 Responses to Angling-Conservation Group Sees Fast Track Bill as Undemocratic

  1. Peter says:

    This isn’t democracy, only a hand full of New Zealanders will benefit from this corruption,

  2. Rex N. Gibson says:

    Unfortunately there is unlikely to be any sympathy for environmental issues from this Seymour/Jones led government. Jones’s comments about Freddy Frog said it all. This coalition is all about expanding business despite any consequences for mother earth; a true damn the torpedoes and full steam ahead mentality. While we are in the middle of this political pendulum swing it will take a massive public backlash to halt or at least restrict this government’s fascist tendencies. The environment cannot speak for itself so well done to all recreational and environmental groups that fight back on its behalf.

    • G Henderson says:

      The current government’s approach has distinct echoes of the Lange administration’s “crash on through or crash” mindset.

      It really is the last chance saloon for the environment.

      Get writing to your local MP and to the PM about this. Ask National MPs to square current policy with National’s manifesto.

  3. Karl Lorenz says:

    This fast-track bill shows an absolute disregard for democracy and gives open welcoming doors to developers.
    Every MP has pledged to democracy and on that vow, cannot support this bill and stay true to their values.
    I’ve noted National with 38 percent of the vote, pre-election told voters it was “passionate about safeguarding New Zealand’s unique natural environment, abundant native biodiversity, pristine waters and spectacular landscapes for future generations.” This will test National’s integrity. This bill is totally contrary to National’s manifesto.

  4. Sue Grey says:

    It’s heartbreaking that we’ve shifted from one government that had no respect for democracy to another with the same disrespectful attitude to the people they are supposed to represent

  5. Tony Orman says:

    Whenever I see a move like this I’m reminded of a brilliant quote from the late and former president of US, John F Kennedy. He said way back then, “The race between education and erosion, between wisdom and waste, has not run its course —— Each generation must deal anew with the raiders, with the scramble to use public resources for private profit and with the tendency to prefer short-run profits to long-run necessities. The nation’s battle to preserve the common estate is far from won — the crisis may be quiet but but it is urgent.”

  6. "Democrat" says:

    These ministers (Shane Jones, Chris Bishop and Simeon Brown) have snubbed democracy. Bishop canvassed big business and those iwi likely to be eyeing money-making opportunities before the bill has been to the select committee.
    Presumably he assumes (arrogantly) the bill will be passed. He’s clearly overstepped his mark. For this reason, National will not be trusted by New Zealanders with this arrogant behaviour.
    What has New Zealand come to?
    Before the coalition there was the dictatorial, divisive Labour government, now there;’s the trio of Jones, Bishop and Brown riding roughshod over democracy and wanting the public input select committee system done away with.
    I remind MPs they are not the masters, they are servants to the people – public servants, with their salaries paid from the public purse.

  7. Roger Dewhurst says:

    I owned a house at Tanners Point. The original paper work consisted of about three A4 pages. I built a new garage for it. The paperwork was as thick as a paperback novel. Roger Dewhurst

  8. Stewart Hydes says:

    Our previous government ran seriously amok .. in a way many of us never thought possible, here in New Zealand. They have left carnage behind .. in terms of our society’s social, cultural, democratic, environmental, conservation, mental, physical, spiritual and economic wellbeing.
    Our new government have much to try and patch up, in a very constrained environment .. while our productive economy is treading water (bordering on recession), and our public debt has ballooned to astronomical levels.
    We all understand the meritorious intent behind the Fast-track Approvals Bill.
    However, in their efforts to do things better .. our new government are actually tripping themselves up .. PERPETUATING THE ATTACKS ON OUR DEMOCRATIC PROCESSES WE SAW UNDER THE LAST GOVERNMENT.
    Which fulfils my “world view” on the way so-called democracy actually works, when governments are formed.
    Successive government’s don’t magically solve our problems. They don’t fix things up, in any spectacular way.
    They just find new ways to screw things up.
    Which .. especially when you helped vote them in .. is incredibly disappointing …

  9. Grace Jones says:

    This coalition of three leaders is failing miserably, despite the previous labour government being labeled as divisive, I have never seen such a cluster of words unspoken that describes the current state of the NZ government… talk about the tail wagging the horse… there are so many agendas from various “leaders” indecision and lack of leadership is rife. It is a pity, a National strong govt may have been the change we needed, but for now we have to deal with what is in front of us and what we voted for. We should continue to call politicians out on their promises, statements, contradictions and conduct.

  10. Sorry only I’ve got to be BLUNT about this debacle ? >>> It’s a fast “CRAP” Bill our democracy is well out of the window & dead as Mutton , put forward by Second Rate Politicians, who put themselves BEFORE their Country ? as it should be the other way round ! NOT very Loyal New Zealanders in my book . N.Z. First getting a $ 55 ,000 Bung & ACTs David Seymour & the Atlas Money Boys , plus Nationals Mr Bishop & his Tobbac0 Links, then with P.M. Chris Luxon, being all over the show shifting Melisa Lee Etc. I really wonder at this fast pace , will this Coalition go the full three year term ? The wheels are falling off the Jigger already .

  11. Wiri Williams says:

    I’m not sure I agree with all of the sentiments in the article but instead I will address the key issue for me: The intention of the law. I am sympathetic to the objectives of stopping bloody minded ideologically driven objections and delays, of the notion of quick decision making unencumbered by such delays, but that is because it’s the Coaltion in power. But I have to ask myself would I like this deliberate sidelining of reasonable discussion if the last Government was still in power? And the answer is no bloody way. So I think the zeal of the Fast Foot Freddie’s … Bishop and co… goes too far. And what the hell is the racist criteria for the Expert Panel in there for? Wiri Williams.

  12. Jack Tuhawaiki says:

    Wiri Williams has addressed the fundamental flaw in recent government culture, i.e. “the sidelining of reasonable discussion.”
    Democracy is precious, no matter the issue. The John Key National government ignored democracy when Nick Smith and John Key sacked the democratically elected Environment Canterbury (ECan) council and put in state puppet commissioners. John Key snubbed democracy when he sent Maori Party MP Pita Sharples to sign an indigenous pact at the UN and when he put Aotearoa on bank notes – without any reference to the public. Yet on a trivial flag issue, he did ask the people!
    The Ardern/Hipkins Labour Party ignored democracy by completely by-passing the select committee process with parliamentary bills passed under urgency.
    Now Jones and Bishop of the current coalition government are intending to make it legal in the Fast Track Approvals Bill to bypass any select committee process.
    You hear people around Anzac Day usually pay tribute and thanks, to those who were killed in two World Wars fighting for democracy above dictatorship.
    Messrs. Bishop and Jones and every current MP should remember that and respect democracy and ensure it is safeguarded and strengthened for future generations instead of ditching it.

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