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Special Economic Zones Still On The Table

If you thought that the widespread reaction to proposal to create Special Economic Zones floated by this Government some years ago was a 'dead duck,' think again. 

Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges is out there floating the idea once again, presumably because Cabinet thinks there may be votes in it. He appears to believe that he can 'sneak it in the back-door' before anyone notices. Hopefully he will get the message very quickly that he should follow the advice of his officials and bury it once and for all. 

The measure is of course simply a means to expedite the by-passing of the RMA and any other legislative hurdles preventing some of their favourite aquaculture, coal mining and similar schemes getting into the water, or off the ground, and he appears to have the backing of Local Government NZ. But Forest & Bird's Chief Executive Kevin Hague has another description on RNZ after securing the rerlevant documents under the OIA:

"The scope of law and regulation that the government is proposing to suspend to facilitate these developments is breathtaking."

We in this District should be concerned mainly because of the simmering enthusiasm within the Regional Council to remove any obstacles to getting the Hauraki king-fish farming operation under way - should there be any tenderers remaining in the mix. Most appear to have dropped out once they realised the difficulties of meeting the environmental standards inherent in progressing plans to commercial profitability.

The deep-seated opposition to such plans have consolidated with the publicity surrounding the opposition to the transfer and expansion of existing salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds because of the unacceptable polution they have created at their present sites. If that is not a warning to us, then it should be. People have grown heartily sick of the lies and dissembling by both the Company and the Department of Primary Industry that has led to this impasse.

We should not, and must not let this happen here, regardless of the alledged economic advantages to be accrued from such a development to the north of the Gulf. The questions surrounding polution have never been properly answered, and the Inquiry that was set up to 'white-wash' the plans was simply that - a once over lightly examination by people who were clearly ill-qualified to examine the evidence, or otherwise simply following the Government's bidding.

As regards coal - this statement by Bridges probably best sums up the Government's ambiguous position:

"Government understands that, and that's because undoubtedly in areas such as the West Coast it's been a mainstay of their economy, it has provided very strong job numbers, and high paying jobs at that.

"But of course what is also true on the other side of that is that there is conservation values that we as New Zealanders hold very seriously, so I don't think that's a simple matter and I'm certainly not pretending that it is."

Just so!




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Reader Comments (3)

Fish farming might be one target of the Government for circumventing the RMA and other laws - but so too might be mining on Coromandel conservation land.

The government tried and failed in 2010 to take away Schedule 4 protection, then they tried a devious land swap of land out of the Conservation estate ( Ruataniwha) and when they lost that Court case in the Supreme Court they say they going to amend the law anyway. Now this "economic zone" Muldoonist "Think Big" throwback.

Then consider this - "The proposal for “Special Economic Zones” was been seriously pushed by senior Ministers including Steven Joyce and Bill English. Meanwhile, local MP Scott Simpson has been assuring anyone who raises concerns about mining on the peninsula that the current law means that mining is “highly unlikely” to go ahead! Which raises the interesting question as to whether Scott Simpson was aware of the plans of his senior ministers to essentially wipe away almost all existing environmental protections with these economic zones?"

July 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDenis Tegg

It's a good question, and one that should be put to Scott at the first opportunity - he has had a 'dream run' to date, and it time that was required to take responsibility for the actions of the Ministry of which he is a member.

July 13, 2017 | Registered CommenterBill Barclay

One of the reasons touted for these Special Economic Zones (SEZ) is the additional employment opportunities that will be provided. Yet, we are called on by the believe that the present high levels of immigration (over and above the more 'normal' levels of the past) are necessary to keep the wheels of industry turning! Am I missing something in thinking that giving an easy legislative ride to these SEZ's will, in turn, give rise to the need for even more 'imported' workers?
However, I agree that the main issue with these potential SEZ's - and the putting aside of the checks and balances provided by the established legislative processes - is the potential adverse environmental impacts if these zones proceed. This is another example of expediency, for the sake of 'growth'. Add SEZ's to the list, that is perhaps best headed by lack of effective national direction/action on climate change issues; followed by the free use, and misuse, of natural water - et al!

July 16, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTim

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