Thursday, November 12, 2015

More dictatorship from National

Back in 2012, National passed the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012, which gave the Environmental Protection Agency the job of safeguarding our marine environment. Contrary to expectations, the EPA actually did that job, rejecting two high-profile seabed mining applications due to their uncertain or adverse effects. The mining industry was outraged - and so they're getting National to change the law to enable the Minister to effectively decide consents by handpicking cronies as decision-makers:

A “dirty deal” between big business and the Government to sideline the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and strip it of some of its powers is being considered after the watchdog declined two seabed mining applications.

ONE News revealed the deal could remove the EPA’s power to appoint an independent board to assess marine mining applications, and instead the Minister for the Environment, Nick Smith, would hand pick the board of inquiry himself.

Greenpeace Executive Director, Dr Russel Norman, was interviewed during the news segment and calls the move a “dirty back-door deal” that takes any integrity out of the process.

The EPA's independence over consent processes is currently guaranteed by statute. Section 14 of the EEZ Act states that
The Minister may not give a direction under section 103 of the Crown Entities Act 2004 that relates to the exercise of any power, duty, or function of the Environmental Protection Authority [to decide applications for marine consents]

National passed that law. But now that an independent body isn't giving their donors the decisions they want, they want to revoke it. Its not just another example of National's dictatorial tendencies - it smells of corruption.