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Opinion

What about if we have Oppose the Fast Track Bill, Threatening our Environment and Democracy

OPINION PIECE – Our paradise and communities under siege. This is the reality facing the stunning landscapes and cohesive communities of Thames Coromandel if the Fast Track Bill claws its way into law. This legislation, currently masquerading as progress, is a Trojan Horse threatening our local decision-making, environmental protections, and democratic processes.
 |  Denis Tegg  |  ,

Double Jeopardy for Our Environment and Local Decision-Making: The Bill delivers a ruthless one-two gut-punch to Coromandel’s future. First, a clause dismantles the 26-year-old law passed by a previous National government, (strongly supported by TCDC) safeguarding Coromandel conservation forest land and our precious harbours and estuaries from mining. Countless people from Coromandel fought to win this protection, and 40,000 marched up Queen Street, Auckland in 2010 to successfully retain it.

Second, another clause in the Bill trashes our local District Plan. Our Plan forged through decades of community campaigns and legal battles, prohibits mining in our towns, open spaces, and specially defined pristine coastal areas. History tells us our towns are unsafe – mining companies do target urban areas. Recall the Waihi mine and 1980s plans to tunnel under houses and for an open-cast mine near Thames properties; a horrifying threat this Bill resurrects.

Fast Track to Disaster, Not Progress: The Bill evades both local and national democracy and due process. Just three government Ministers, wielding unchecked centralised power, can fast-track open-cast mines and toxic tailings dams – anywhere – including in or near our urban areas, or their water supply catchments. Voters weren’t warned of this pre-election.  The Bill destroys the government’s claim in the ‘Three Waters’ debate that it supports “localism” and local decision-making.

Remember When We Fought for This? These current protections are the hard-won legacy of locals in every Coromandel community who thwarted multinational mining giants in the 1980s and 1990s. This Bill shatters those hard-fought victories.

False Equivalencies: Fast Track vs. Covid Recovery Law: Don’t be fooled by claims the Fast Track Bill is just a faster Covid recovery law. It’s a radical and extreme shift prioritising resource extraction over sustainability. Here, two Ministers alone can rubberstamp damaging projects with no independent challenge possible.

Time is Running Out: Make Your Voice Heard.  Submissions to Parliament’s Select Committee close on April 19th. This is your chance to fight for Coromandel’s future. Use this article to get you started. Search “Fast-track Approvals Bill New Zealand Parliament” on Google.

This isn’t just about Coromandel. It’s an alarming precedent for New Zealand. The Fast Track Bill sets a dangerous course, eroding nationwide local control and environmental safeguards. Please champion and protect your community, the environment, tourism – the lifeblood of our economy, and a future where progress doesn’t come at the cost of our heritage.

Denis was the originator of the law passed by the National government in 1998 that protected Coromandel’s conservation forest and coastline from mining.