Seasoned and experienced politician Richard Northey, current member of the Waitematā Local Board, has been around many legislative processes in his time as an MP and in local government.  Richard has a principled and considered approach to reviewing government bills and always takes the time to submit.  In his view the government’s proposed Fast-Track Approvals Bill is flawed and should be withdrawn.  His submission explains why.

Submission on Fast-track Approvals Bill 2024 by Richard Northey

I am an elected member of the Waitematā Local Board and have residences in the central city of Auckland and on the Coromandel Harbour. I was an MP and member of the caucus environment committee that was involved in drafting the RMA in 1990.

My submission is that the Fast Track Approvals Bill is fatally flawed and should be withdrawn.

In my view, the main features of the Bill that necessitate its withdrawal or very substantial amended are as follows.

  1. The Bill should not include provisions to override a number of Acts that provide balanced provisions for economic activities, the environment and wildlife. It should be restricted to the RMA alone.
  2. A group of up to three Ministers should not make the final decision on projects, they should be made by independent panels, as in the COVID related fast-tacking procedure.
  3. Ministers should not be involving at all in choosing appointments to panels for particular projects.
  4. The Minister for the Environment should always be the responsible Minister or one of two ministers involved in these processes.
  5. Community and civil society organisations that represent a section or sections of the local or national or community public interest must specifically be enabled to have input.
  6. There should not be an appended list of specific projects that the Ministers are obliged to consider using these processes for. If a list is to be retained, it must be referred to the Select Committee now and each project specifically considered by the Select Committee to recommend whether it should be included in the Bill.
  7. The Bill should make it absolutely clear that Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act banning surface mining on high value conservation land cannot be overridden and that it applies fully to the Coromandel Peninsula.
  8. The Bill in its current form is not just going to have negative environmental effects but also negative effects economically, socially and for our local and national democratic and constitutional processes.

Read the Fast-Track Approvals Bill

Make a submission by 11.50pm on Friday 19 April

Further submissions and submission guides

Forest and Bird

Environmental Defence Society 

Greenpeace online form

Lawyers for Climate Action