We are asking for your help to fight against legislation currently being drafted by the Government which clearly discriminates in favour of iwi, while the rest of us would effectively be marginalized. The issue is urgent - the Government plans to push this legislation through by late June - under urgency and with minimal public input under the pretext of COVID-19.
The Ministry for the Environment (MfE) has been working towards a Bill to fast-track the consenting process during the COVID-19 Recovery. A link to the cabinet paper relating to the COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Bill is HERE. Officials from MfE have worked alongside the Office for Māori Crown Relations – Te Arawhiti on the development of this legislation.
In a recent media release, the Chair of Democracy Action Lee Short said:
“Currently Jacinda Ardern's Government is proposing to extend the preferential treatment of iwi under the proposed COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Bill. Resource consent decisions on specified projects (including housing, transport, and environmental projects) will be made by a three-person panel and one of those people must be "a person nominated by relevant iwi authorities".
“While many of us have been calling for Resource Management Act reform for years, it is doubtful most envisaged iwi being represented at the top table to look after iwi interests. Mandating that unaccountable iwi representatives are involved as one of three consenting authorities in significant consent decisions is clearly a case of institutionalized racism.”
Further proof of the racial bias in the legislation is laid bare in section 66 of the Cabinet Paper. The right to appeal is limited to people who have an interest in "the decision that is greater than the interest that the general public has, which would generally include the relevant iwi authority and adjacent landowners." That is right – iwi will have a greater interest than members of the general public in every decision (and can therefore appeal) under this legislation change.
We also face the situation outlined by National Iwi Chairs Forum spokesman Rahui Papa who stated that iwi have shovel-ready projects that the Government should prioritise. This would create the situation where iwi were both the developer and the consent decision maker, which is a clear conflict of interest. This bill would embed that conflict of interest into law.
Consider the terrible precedent which might be set by this law when the Minister in charge, Hon David Parker, said "we think it's justified to put aside those normal rights of participation and have a narrower group of people make these decisions centrally."
What other “normal rights of participation” – what we call democracy – will be put aside by this Government?
Join the fight against this discriminatory legislation. Please communicate your thoughts to your MP, and the NZ First, National and Act MPs, as well and the following:
The Prime Minister, RT Hon Jacinda Ardern. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Minister for the Environment, Hon David Parker. Email: email@example.com
All email addresses of all MPs are available on the Government website HERE.