Monday, July 20, 2020

Ending tenure review

Something I missed: the government has introduced a Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill. Its primary purpose is to immediately end tenure review, with any review discontinued if a substantive proposal has not yet been put to a leaseholder. According to LINZ, there are currently zero substantive proposals waiting for a decision, so hopefully this means the process is stopped dead in its tracks. It would also replace the lax scheme for consenting activities (which has seen proposals to clear or irrigate crown land rubberstamped) with one mirroring the RMA hierarchy of permitted, discretionary and prohibited activities, and apply a formal decision-making process to them. Both of which are a huge improvement over the status quo.

There is a minor secrecy problem in new s22E, in that proactive publication requirements can be ignored if the Chef Executive is satisfied that good reason would exist under the OIA for withholding. Which echoes the clause in the new Overseas Investment Amendment Bill (No 3) I blogged about earlier in the month. Its not that this is a bad idea, but the lack of oversight is problematic, and introduces unknown unknowns (we don't know how much is being withheld, and therefore how much transparency we're actually getting). And it has the same solutions: automatic review, and publication of the fact that something has been withheld so that we know how much we're not being allowed to see.