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‘Huge work programme’ on fast track

Wairarapa MP Mike Butterick, who is deputy chair of the Environment Select Committee hearing submissions on the Fast Track Approvals Bill, says the group “has a huge work programme” ahead of it.

The controversial bill – designed to speed up the delivery of major infrastructure and development projects by creating a ‘one-stop-shop’ for approvals under several regulatory regimes – attracted nearly 27,000 written submissions.

Nearly 3000 submitters requested to speak to their submission.

“Right now [the committee] is hearing the first of hundreds of submissions from individuals and groups that want to have input on the bill,” Butterick told the Times-Age.

He acknowledged that “people have put a lot of work into their submissions, which is fantastic”.

“The select committee process is an opportunity for people and groups to have further input into the bill, and people across the country certainly have.”

According to a press release issued on May 10 on behalf of the select committee, the volume of submissions – which included “several thousand form submissions” in support of “different campaigns” – has led to the “difficult decision” to hear only a randomly selected 40 per cent of individual submitters.

“This means submitters will be assigned a number, and 550 will be randomly selected.”

“We’re committed to hearing a broad and diverse range of voices and opinions, and I think this approach is a fair and consistent way for us to do that,” select committee chair David MacLeod stated in the release.

The lottery approach has attracted criticism and claims it is “undemocratic”.

“It’s frustrating, as we’ve been training hundreds of people on how to present their own submissions, and now many won’t be able to do that,” 350 Aotearoa campaigner Adam Currie said.

“Another point to stress is that, under the bill, nobody will be able to be notified about anything, so [the select committee] is the only chance they have.”

Wairarapa farmer Mike Birch, who made a submission “strongly” opposing the bill, said the committee’s decision to only hear some submissions “is just not good enough”.

“The number of submissions shows the level of interest in the bill the public has, and the committee should hear from more people.”

Birch has not heard if he had been successful in the ballot process. According to the select committee’s May 10 press release, staff have begun contacting submitters to schedule their appearances and “will continue to do so in the weeks ahead”.

“The committee plans to hear submissions from over 1100 submitters at 22 meetings across a period of six weeks.”

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