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Make a submission on the Fast-track Approvals Bill using EDS’s template

EDS has released a template submission on the Fast-Track Approvals Bill.

The template is designed to make it easy for everyone to tell our law makers about the Bill’s main flaws. It covers 5 key issues with the Bill and has space for people to add their own perspectives.

EDS has released its own draft submission on the Bill which provides more detail on the Bill’s issues. People are welcome to draw on EDS’s submission to flesh out their own. Feedback on EDS’s draft submission is also welcome.

Last week EDS hosted a webinar on the Bill which over 700 people registered for, demonstrating the depth of concern for this Bill. The webinar prompted some common questions. Here are our top 3:

1. The Bill appears to give Ministers carte blanche to favour particular applicants or projects. Does the Bill deal with conflicts of interest?

It does not. There are no safeguards in the Bill about when Ministers should be expected to recuse themselves from direct decision-making, such as where they have made comments about particular projects in the past or where they have previously received political donations from particular applicants.

2. It seems that any project or development that claims ‘national and regional significance’ is eligible for fast-tracking. Is that the case?

Pretty much, yes. The key test for eligibility is whether there is a significant national or regional benefit. This is very vague and open to Ministerial interpretation, with criteria as broad as (for example) whether a proposal would support primary industries or a project on a priority list. Very few projects are specifically made not eligible either, so things like prohibited activities under the RMA can pass through.

3. Under existing fast-track processes independent expert panels make the decision on whether a project can proceed. What role do these panels have under the Bill?

Unlike other fast-tracks we’ve had, expert independent panels are relegated to an advisory role only. In the unlikely event that panels recommend declining an application, Ministers can override this recommendation when making a final decision or simply send it back with further “directions” for reconsideration. The whole thing is designed to be a rubber stamping exercise.

The Bill is currently before the Environment Select Committee and submissions close on 19 April 2024. EDS is encouraging everyone to have a voice in this process.

Template submission

EDS’s draft submission

Watch the webinar

 

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