Submission: Covid-19 Response (Fast Track Consenting) Bill

The Council for Civil Liberties has made a slightly late submission to the Environment Select Committee on the Covid-19 Response (Fast Track Consenting) Bill.

Our submission was 12 hours late because, once again, the government has given a very short timeframe to make a submission (introduced 16th June, submissions closed midnight on the 21st). While we understand that responding to the Covid-19 pandemic has at times required a certain level of expediency, we cannot see how this particular bill can justify such a shortened consultation period.

With this in mind, it seems darkly appropriate that this Fast Track Consenting Bill is itself about removing public participation in the processes of government.

The Council believes that our democratic rights to participate in decision making on environmental issues should not be sacrificed in a short term effort to boost our economy, and does not support this Bill progressing further.

In particular, the type and scope of these projects are often contentious especially at a time when many are concerned about climate-change:

The rights of the public to participate in decision-making and appeal processes must be protected in order that competing values and visions of New Zealand’s future are not excluded from consideration of resource consent applications.

We find that the bill fails on accountability, democratic participation, transparency, and open government. We are also concerned at the apparent ousting of the Supreme Court as the highest court in New Zealand.

Read our submission in full (PDF).