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Two groups raising fast-track ‘red-flags’

A Masterton-based Māori trust and Wairarapa iwi organisation are opposing the Fast-track Approvals Bill and seeking amendments to aspects that have environmental and Te Tiriti o Waitangi implications.

The bill was first introduced on March 7 and proposes speeding up consenting timeframes for nationally or regionally important infrastructure projects – including those previously declined – by having them considered by an expert panel that will make recommendations to three ministers who will have final say about whether they go ahead.

Rangitāne Tū Mai Rā Trust [RTMRT] said the bill is “disproportionately pro-development”, gives undue power to the three ministers, and has “far-reaching adverse implications” to Māori authority, customs, the environment, and Te Tiriti o Waitangi settlement interests and guarantees.

RTMRT – a post-settlement governance entity for Rangitāne o Wairarapa and Rangitāne o Tamaki nui-ā-Rua) – presented its written submission, which was published on June 11, to the select committee.

Amber Craig, who represents Rangitāne o Wairarapa Incorporated, made an oral submission opposing the bill alongside the previous written submission from the organisation and said she supported RTMRT’s stance.

“We are making decisions in the now rather than understanding the whakapapa of the impacts that we’re going to be making,” she said.

“I don’t want our babies and our future mokopuna to have to carry the debt that we are creating now, through legislation like this that is very narrow-minded and does not understand the full impacts of what will happen.”

Craig said she opposes the bill “bypassing any conservation act or environment checks” and believes there should be greater accountability in the fast-track decision-making.

“Our kaumatua have come before us and shared the mamae or the hurt and stories – we don’t want to repeat the same mistakes.”

In its submission, RTMRT said that while it supports fast-track processes reducing timeframes, it is “unacceptable” the Bill’s “pro-development premise… prioritised development above all else”.

“It is wholly inconsistent with our rights and obligations as kaitiaki [guardians] and is directly at odds with international best practice and consumer expectations.”

The “hastiness” of the development of the bill, the RTMRT submission said, meant there was a lack of informed engagement with whanau and hapū.

The Bill Schedule 2A projects are also subject to “less” public scrutiny, including from the communities directly impacted, it said.

The submission added that “the ministerial decision-making criteria… is vulnerable to real or perceived political capture and misuse”.

“This is both untenable and at odds with this Government’s statements about empowering local communities,” the RTMRT submission said.

In response, RTMRT has sought an amendment for the bill to include a public scrutiny Select Committee process for Schedule 2.

RTMRT also highlighted that the government is undertaking a separate process to consider projects for inclusion in Schedule 2A and 2B.

“This completely excludes iwi engagement and inclusion in the process and showcases a lack of transparency,” the submission said.

“If exploited, listed projects could take place in areas deemed ineligible, such as National Parks.”

The RTMRT recommended that the fast-track process have “a full public notification of all projects considered… including opportunities for submissions and a hearing by an independent expert panel”.

“Ministers have suggested that listed projects may include proposals that have been previously declined.

“This is unacceptable and an insult to hapū, iwi, Māori entities, and all others who have undertaken work in previous consenting processes if those decisions are overturned by legislation.”

Another amendment RTMRT sought is to include a “Te Tiriti clause” requiring “all persons exercising functions and powers under the Bill to ‘give effect to’ Te Tiriti o Waitangi and its principles”.

1 COMMENT

  1. So much hatred 😪 why are New Zealanders leaving 😕 😢. I hope 🙏 this hatred of Europeans and other ethnic groups stops ✋. Can we not live together as New Zealanders and stop this racist demanding of ours and yours devising.

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