CANA: Shane Jones, Chris Bishop, and Simeon Brown want the power to authorise mines and motorways on behalf of their mates with the click of a pen. Here’s how to fight back.

Written By: - Date published: 6:05 am, March 27th, 2024 - 29 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, chris bishop, disaster, Environment - Tags: , ,

Cross posted from Coal Action Network Aotearoa’s website. By Tim Jones

The recently introduced Fast-track Approval Bill is a massive power grab by the new Government. Under it, three Ministers will have the power to arbitrarily decide that projects, including coal mines on conservation land, can go ahead without any public input. Radio New Zealand has produced a great explainer about the Bill which is vital reading – please do read it!

It gets worse. The Bill gives the Government the power to resurrect projects that have already been rejected by the courts – including the proposed Te Kuha coal mine on the West Coast, which Forest & Bird and CANA have worked together to oppose.

Fast track protest in Karangahake gorge, Coromandel, March 2024.
Photo: R Rockell

As the Radio New Zealand explainer says:

“Forest & Bird’s Capie fears the Te Kuha coal mine and the Ruataniwha dam and irrigation scheme – two projects which courts have ruled against – could be resurrected under the act.

The Te Kuha coal mine needed three sets of permission to proceed including resource consents, permission to mine public conservation land and permission to mine the public reserve. It previously lost in all three processes.”

Why is the new Bill so bad?

This process is unaccountable, undemocratic, will lead to bad projects being rubber-stamped, and is all too open to corruption. It is also, to put it mildly, highly misleading: the Bill was supposed to include two initial lists of projects to be fast-tracked, but when it was introduced, those lists were left blank.

Chris Bishop expects you to take his explanation of this at face value:

“Bishop told TVNZ the projects were not published because he was worried it would “overwhelm” the select committee.”

Yeah, right. In reality, the Government knows that New Zealanders will be even more outraged if they see the list of environment- and climate-wrecking projects that these Ministers and their donor & industry mates have cooked up.

Chris Bishop also appears to be concerned the legal risk of including these projects in the Bill. Even the big end of town has its doubts about this Bill, and the Government has been hearing those behind the scenes from lawyers and others, and getting increasingly nervous about public response.

This Bill has already provoked protests in Hauraki and Taranaki.

There will be more.

No Fast Track No Seabed Mining protest outside EPA hearings in Hāwera, 13 March. Photo: Matt Coffey

What you can do right now

The Bill, minus those lists of projects, is currently before the Environment Select Committee for consideration. Submissions close on Friday 19 April. Please submit to tell the Committee why this Bill is bad for you, for your community, and for our nation. Also, please ask to speak to the Committee in person.

Click here to make a submission

The Environmental Defence Society (EDS) has produced a set of slides  and a draft submission to help you work out your submission points.

EDS webinar and slides
EDS draft submission

Forest and Bird have a brief template submission, but please note that you should only use this if you do not want to make an oral submission.

Next,  please write to your nearest MP – especially if they’re an MP from one of the governing parties. Tell them what you, personally, dislike about this Bill, and the consequences the Government is likely to face from pushing this Bill and its hidden list of projects through. Be polite, but leave them in no doubt about what you think and feel.

The coal companies are gloating over this Bill.

But they’ve gloated before, and we’ve left them with egg on their faces. Let’s do it again.

29 comments on “CANA: Shane Jones, Chris Bishop, and Simeon Brown want the power to authorise mines and motorways on behalf of their mates with the click of a pen. Here’s how to fight back. ”

  1. Ad 1

    A core reason we have a tourism industry is because our post-Think Big approvals system over 30 years has been cumbersome, expensive and democratised: it protected New Zealand from becoming development-ravaged like Tasmania, New Caledonia, or Kalgoorlie.

    Tourism is the one industry we've created with the scale and heft to balance our economy away from high mass agriculture. If we overdevelop mines and motorways we will lose what makes us globally attractive.

    So as well as resisting this bill because it's an egregious power-grab, resisting it is a basic truth to our economic survival.

    • weka 1.1

      likewise, projects like the Tarras airport will harm tourism because we have no way of limiting tourism numbers. If you build it they will come and we will have even more low value, high negative impact mass tourism.

      And mass tourism has no place in a climate action world.

      • Ad 1.1.1

        Oddly Wanaka residents are neutral but Wanaka and Queenstown tourism associations opposed as is QAC and QLDC.

        Us fighters are ready.

        Tarras won't happen.

        • weka 1.1.1.1

          I don't think it will happen either, but the fight is a big waste of everyone's time and resources.

          What makes you think Wanaka residents are neutral?

        • Bearded Git 1.1.1.2

          Tarras airport will be fast-tracked.

          People I have met who live in Queenstown and the Wakatipu Basin hate the noise from Queenstown airport.

          It certainly wrecks watching cricket there.

          • weka 1.1.1.2.1

            Queenstown needs to sort it's problems out itself, not make everywhere else like Queenstown.

            • Bearded Git 1.1.1.2.1.1

              Agreed….and these days this goes for very rapidly growing Wanaka too.

              For instance there has been a major debate in Wanaka this week because Wanaka/the Upper Clutha now has a population of 17,000 but effectively has no hospital services at all. St John's have to take urgent cases to Dunston hospital (Clyde) but are not funded to do this.

              • weka

                I hope someone pointed out to the upset people that they have a choice every three years in who oversees QLDC.

            • Graeme 1.1.1.2.1.2

              QAC itself said that half the passengers through ZQN go past the Crown Range turn off. A good proportion also go past Kingston.

              ZQN has become the defacto Southern Regional International Airport. Queenstown tourism, and residents, probably use half or less of it's capacity.

              • Ad

                Upon that airport and all the inbound capital it attracts rests the equity of thousands of people, at $3m a shot. Less a bubble and more a cyst.

        • Graeme 1.1.1.3

          The great failing of the RMA was that it was just about the merits of the individual application. There was very little space for strategic thinking on infrastructure. It's possible the Fast Track process may allow this, but I really doubt it.

          So getting to the Southern Regional International Airport, the discussion is rapidly heading to NIMBY, with little discussion on how this bit of infrastructure is placed in the most suitable site.

          There's lots of reasons why Queenstown Airport is, and isn't the best place for this Airport. ZQN is stunningly marketable as a tourist gateway, punters will pay a premium to fly in there and you couldn't get a more integrated tourism product. For residents, it worked, kinda, when there were only 10 jet flights a day, now there's 20+ a day the idea starts have knobs on it. Also half the passengers go past the Crown Range turnoff, so there's an argument for siting an airport in Cromwell / Wanaka area.

          My fear is that in killing Tarras, AIA rams through something much worse in Upper Clutha under Fast Track, that competes directly with Chch Airport, giving AIA an effective monopoly on international air services in NZ.

          • Ad 1.1.1.3.1

            There are further problems with regulating airport in NZ.

            Firstly it's dominated by AIAL. Which now has functionally no public shareholding to steer it even if it wanted to. AIAL has a big slice of QAC.

            Secondly CAL is partly Crown owned. So there's always ways to back-channel political influence on its behalf even if there were a will to strongly regulate it. Most regions were successfully bribed with massive Provincial Growth Fund capital in the 2017-2020 season from Invercargill all the way up, so the government essentially bought off local protest.

            Thirdly while its landing charges are putatively Commerce Commission regulated, Airlines NZ haven't successfully challenged those charges. They've got close to a rationality to run it to the High Court back in 2013, but not enough to really hold AIAL to hard account.

            Finally, with all those fresh upgrades, airports are ripe for 50% selloffs under this government. With no clear price regulator, this is a gift to our NZX or to Infratil or Blackrock. And once that final vestige of public accountability goes from the state, the room for private sector expansion of capacity is wide open.

            Airports almost deserve a post on their own, but I'll wait until someone makes a move.

            • Graeme 1.1.1.3.1.1

              Add into that how air travel and airports will change as climate adaption changes the industry.

              If electromagnetic acceleration (catapults, but much gentler and longer than naval ones) and / or hybrid propulsion becomes a thing then long haul runways will become much longer. CHC has easy options here, AKL not so much.

              Also both our long haul airports only have one runway. Several recent occurrences with both out of action, and hundreds of people stuck at Ohakea. CHC has a short second runway that could be extended, AKL are having trouble working out what to do with this.

  2. observer 2

    The Standard is literally providing a regular platform for climate change denial in the sidebar on the right.

    That could end with a couple of clicks, but it persists, for no evident reason (inertia?).

    Please do something about it, or provide a justification. It has been an issue for many months, raised in comments many times, and nothing ever gets done.

    Climate change denial for the win!

    • weka 2.1

      please email Lynn lprent at the address in the Contact tab. Make sure you give him links to the posts (multiple) that you are concerned about, and an explanation of why the feed should be removed.

      From memory there was other content on that blog that Lynn thought was relevant to TS.

  3. Tabletennis 3

    the fast track approval bill has all the hallmarks of the big think projects:
    ‘The policy had attempted to target inflation, but in turn reduced profitability for exporters unable to adapt prices.’
    ‘Think Big projects became synonymous with further inflation and industrial trouble.’
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Think_Big

    Maybe National party should have a minister of National Party history, maybe it will help them not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

  4. They aren't listening to the commentators and business people so why do we think that they will listen to us?

  5. georgecom 5

    I'll be putting in a submission stating what I think

  6. Ad 6

    Since the old RMA didn't allow climate change to be considered as part of major decisions, isn't direct ministerial decisionmaking exactly what is needed?

    The only problem is that the right thought of it first, so they get their projects going rather than climate-friendly ones.

    To give an idea of what large scale climate transformation projects look like that are hard to consent, try the following:

    – Offshore seaweed farms so large that our reliance on imported phosphate dissolves

    – Offshore wind farms so large that the price of electricity falls steeply and makes a faster transition to electric cars

    – An offshore HVDC cable connecting from Taranaki to Victoria that integrates the power systems of Australasia

    – A high speed train system from Auckland to Hamilton to Wellington

    – A requirement ordering all domestic airplanes be electric by 2040

    – A requirement to remove all milk production from the Mackenzie Basin

    We have grown used to democratic and technocratic processes that stop projects or reduce them down, and disempowered elected ministers from carrying out policy that we voted for.

    Imagine if this kind of power is available to a left government. It would look something like the government of Michael Joseph Savage.

    • Incognito 6.1

      We have grown used to democratic and technocratic processes that stop projects or reduce them down, and disempowered elected ministers from carrying out policy that we voted for.

      The democratic process isn’t limited to and doesn’t stop at (general) elections once every 3 years and neither it should.

      • Ad 6.1.1

        Labour 2017-23 shows what too much democracy looks like. It's just a process. Certainly isn't an objective by itself.

        • Incognito 6.1.1.1

          Labour 2017-23 shows what too much democracy looks like.

          Hardly. The only major policies that Labour implemented in this context involved increased centralisation in a top-down approach that hasn’t (yet) trickled down to local level; status quo remained.

          It’s just a process. Certainly isn’t an objective by itself.

          The democratic process, which remains undefined by default, is or ought to be the heart & soul of a fair, egalitarian, equitable, inclusive, and pluralistic society.

    • SPC 6.2

      Seaweed does provide an alternative to chemical fertilizer, phosphate etc, so it enables self-sufficiency and is renewable.

      The best place for the offshore wind farms is off Taranaki – the problem will be if seabed mining is allowed their first.

      The constraint will be system management (as to available supply).

      This is the largest HVDC so far (Oz is doing a Victoria to Tasmania one)

      https://reneweconomy.com.au/viking-link-worlds-longest-undersea-power-cable-connects-uk-and-denmark/

  7. georgecom 7

    I made a submission today. encourage others to do so

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