Government’s Fast Track Bill Ignores Democracy Obligations

Special report

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A government proposal to fast track development projects would further hasten the erosion of democracy and leave public lands wide open for commercial exploitation  according to the Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations of NZ (CORANZ). 
In a written submission to a parliamentary select committee CORANZ chairman Andi Cockroft of Wellington said the proposals of the Bill will mean the public will have input into decision-making, by the bill removing the usual select committee processes.
“CORANZ views with dismay the proposals that will mean the public will have no say, by the Bill evading normal select committee processes. Therefore, the entire process is dictatorial. The Bill is facilitating exploitation with the public denied any opportunity to contribute to debate,” he said. 

CORANZ is a national forum for outdoor recreation organisations that also has an environmental interest, particularly with public lands.

He quoted a recent move in the US where the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced  that nearly 225,000 acres of public land in the Thompson Divide has been withdrawn from “all forms of mineral entry, appropriation, and disposal for the next twenty years”.

 “It therefore seems that the NZ governments Fast Track Approvals Bill runs totally counter to the US move and philosophy of respecting the public interest and protecting public lands from exploitation.

Excessive Ministerial Powers

Equally alarming is the “excessive power” that would be given to the minister with no accountability back to the public he said. 

“MPs from Prime Minister to ministers – indeed all MPs, are in essence, public servants meant to serve the public interest.

The approval processes outlined by giving such excessive power to a minister, will result in concentrated lobbying by corporates and other developers who in turn have no interest in the environment or outdoor recreation. 

“Their “bottom line” is maximising profits. It is well known that big businesses make donations to general election candidates and political parties in return for future favours. To deny this is the intent of big business, is being naive. It is arguably corrupt – such is human nature,” said Andi Cockroft. 

Similarly, the minister will have a “sole say” in the appointments to a Fast Track Advisory Group, considering applications. 

“Again, this has large potential flaws leading to possible corruption. If the Fast Track Advisory Group lacks integrity, it will have no credibility.” 


CORANZ in its submission criticised provisions for iwi representation.

“The Bill gives preference to one line of lineage as shown by the word “iwi” appearing over 50 times in the Bill. The proposed four-person panels assessing projects, are to include a person nominated by the relevant local authority and a person nominated by the relevant iwi. CORANZ repeats – we are all New Zealanders.  The early pioneers set up a society on egalitarian principles, i.e. equal opportunity for all regardless of wealth, “class” or ethnicity. There should be no appointments based on ethnicity.”

CORANZ pointed out that fisheries and wildlife legislation operates along the early pioneers belief in egalitarian principles.

Reports indicate fast-track provisions  already exist resulting in approvals within 90 days. 

“Why then is there a need for this fast-track bill? We have already witnessed the catastrophic effects of Government bodies captured for commercial benefit with the appointment of ECan Commissioners – we do not wish to see that same repeated!In conclusion CORANZ’s submission questioned the need for the Bill,” said Andi Cockroft.


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6 Responses to Government’s Fast Track Bill Ignores Democracy Obligations

  1. Roger Wilton says:

    Well done CORANZ and Andi Cockroft.
    I presume Fish and Game will be making a submission? Or will they not? DOC should be but will not.
    The Labour-Greens administration was so undemocratic and now the new government puts forward more undoing of democracy. When are Kiwis going to get a good government that understands it is really a part of the “public service”?
    I see MPs are due to vote on a pay rise for themselves.

  2. "Salmo Trutta" says:

    I just don’t understand politicians. NZ First and ACT campaigned just a few months ago at election time on ridding this country of racist separatism, as NZ First calls it. Now here is ACT and NZ First in a coalition government continuing it. Now after the election, it apparently is a different story.
    Yes let us have anyone – regardless of ethnicity – standing for local bodies, getting into parliament, standing for fish and game elections etc.
    A very good submission CORANZ.

  3. Phillip Dewksbury says:

    The coalition Government committed itself at election time to equal rights and promised to not advance policies “that ascribe different rights and responsibilities to New Zealanders on the basis of race”, including iwi appointees on (RMA advisory) panels. Now under the fast track bill, they are doing the opposite to that promise. Lies, broken promises and what else?
    That’;s not mentioning the weakening of democracy. Select committees a thing of the past? The Ardern government arrogantly bypassed select committees “under urgency.”
    Now here’s Shane Jones (NZ First) and Christopher Bishop (National) in the Fast Track Approval Bill by-passing select committees by way of their proposed law.

    Nor is it acceptable for this legislation to include any reference to Treaty “principles” given the Coalition’s commitment to remove them from legislation.

    This a very serious matter – if the public cannot trust the Coalition to deliver on its core commitment to removing racial privilege and rebuilding a society where equality of all citizens before the law prevails, the their promises are not worth the paper they are written on.”

  4. OK it was supposed to be > “Back on Track” Not ” Fast Track ” until N.Z. gets a speed wobble & hits a Brick Wall ! ( we had that lark with Lange & Douglas ) , we don’t need Overseas outfits like Atlas running the Country behind the Curtains or Tobacco Blokes wiping Smoke Free . We need our M.Ps to unite N.Z. ( all races ) , also we must stop Electing Repeat Offenders ? who want to Hock off our small nation too a very greedy World that will swallow us overnight . Going back in Rob Muldoon’s time, Kiwis always knew where they stood ? Even if Muldoon bloody hated you ! Now we never know just where we stand, be it Labour or this Coalition.

  5. Paul says:

    This bill looks scary knowing what politicians are like after the election. Great that CORANZ are on the ball here.
    Our eyes are on the government!

  6. Wiremu Williams says:

    Very good article. Covers many issues so I will just focus on one.

    I understood that all 3 members of the Coalition had agreed on the need for the de- Maorification of future legislation. So why on earth have “Experts” that must be proficient in Maori Kitanga and Maori Matauranga, and agree with the Principles of the TOW, when in fact the principles have never been defined except, as I understand, by Justice Cook back in the 80’s when to use my words, he said that they were a coda that should not be defined by time but can change to suit coming ages. No bloody way, Cookie boy! The sooner National agrees to define the Principles and gets social agreement on them the better. And a sidethought: Who the hell was the Government Minister who signed off on the draft Bill, pregnant as it is with a racist agenda?

    Wiremu Williams.

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