Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Stacking the deck

The Ruataniwha water scheme is a hugely controversial project with dubious environmental merits. So naturally Environment Minister Amy Adams is stacking the deck to make sure her board of inquiry approves it:

Environment Minister Amy Adams has chosen not to select two experienced judges recommended by the Environmental Protection Authority to chair the board of inquiry into the Tukituki water catchment plan, and instead picked former High Court judge Lester Chisholm.

Judge Chisholm has never been on a board of inquiry before, and was unavailable to work on the proposal until six weeks into the mandatory nine-month decision-making time frame that applies to the board process.

Why has she done this? I think its the usual right-wing distrust of expertise. National regards actual experience in environmental law as "bias", which can only be avoided by appointing handpicked, unqualified people.

But it gets worse: the real zinger is buried at the end:
The board includes three members recommended by the authority: Russell Howie, Loretta Lovell and Matthew Lawson. They are joined by Justice Chisholm and former National MP Alec Neill, who had not featured on any list of candidates supplied by the authority.

[Emphasis added]

So if this project is approved, it will be on the word of an unqualified chair and a handpicked, parachuted unqualified crony, there solely to do the government's bidding. Somehow, I doubt this will lead people to regard the process as fair or credible.