This week, the Minister for the Environment, David Parker, introduced a Bill to create jobs and stimulate New Zealand’s economy by fast-tracking infrastructure projects. The Bill bypasses vital elements of transparency and public consultation, compromises the rights of Māori as Te Tiriti partners, and does little to ensure that our environment and climate are protected.
The good news is that we have a short window of opportunity to make it clear that this Bill cannot pass in its current form. But we need to act now – we have only three days to make submissions on the Bill!
Coal Action Network Aotearoa, 350.org and Oil Change International have put together a submission guide to help you have your say on the COVID-19 Response (Fast Track Consenting) Bill.
Last week, nearly 1000 of us sent messages to David Parker, calling for transparency, citizen engagement, and environmental protection in the COVID-19 Recovery (Fast Track Consenting) Bill. Clearly, he hasn’t yet taken our demands into account:
- If passed in its current form, this piece of legislation would enable the Minister for the Environment the power to fast-track the approval process for infrastructure projects without considering the implications for the climate and with limited oversight from the public and other stakeholders.
- The Minister would hold this power for 2 years from the enactment of the Bill, extending this power beyond the election and through to the next government.
- It also restricts hapū, iwi, and citizens’ rights to appeal approvals which pose an unacceptable risk to our communities and our environment.
The government has given us less than a week to make public submissions on the Bill. We need to use this moment to call for significant amendments to ensure that any fast-tracked infrastructure projects do not come at the expense of transparency, citizen engagement and protection for our environment and climate.
We’ve included some key points in our submission guide that you can include when having your say on the Bill. These include ensuring that potential harmful climate impacts are a bottom line when assessing projects, protecting the public and other stakeholders’ rights to give feedback on applications, restoring the right to appeal risky approvals and ensuring that power isn’t concentrated in the hands of a few.
Together we can send a clear message to the government that these are vital amendments that need to be made before this Bill can pass!
Your participation in this Environment Select Committee process is important to ensure that climate action and public engagement in decision-making are core values in our government’s recovery from COVID-19. We’re working with other climate change organisations to push for key amendments to make this Bill fit for a just recovery from COVID-19.
If hundreds of us come together, we can demonstrate that there is overwhelming support for key changes to the Bill that ensure that the rights of citizens and mana whenua to protect the environment are upheld.
Recovering from the impacts of COVID-19 requires the government to act boldly and rapidly. But in the process, mana whenua must be involved as Te Tiriti partners, and citizens must be included in decision-making, particularly when billions of dollars and decades of infrastructure development that could set us on course to make or break our climate change commitments are at stake.
Together we can send a clear message to our government that it can’t ignore.
Thank you for taking action.
PS. If you would prefer a PDF version of our submission guide, you can download a copy here.