There is a range of Bills which have environmental implications or affect environment groups currently in front of Parliament.
Electoral Finance Bill
Public submissions are now being invited on the Electoral Finance Bill. The purpose of this bill is to strengthen the law governing electoral financing and broadcasting, in order to provide more transparency and accountability; prevent undue influence of wealth; and promote participation in parliamentary democracy.
Ordinarily this Bill would not affect environmental and conservation groups but much of the content involves the regulation of third parties i.e. not political parties. Environmental groups are clearly included in the definition of third parties.
As currently drafted the Bill would require any group involved in lobbying MPs on issues to include a report on donations and finances and spend no more than $60,000 on it.
The Coalition for Open Government has prepared some information on this Bill see www.cog.org.nz.
Submissions for this bill close on 7 September with Justice and Electoral Committee, Bowen House Wellington. The Bill is to be reported back to Parliament by 25 January 2008.
New Zealand Geographic Board (Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa) Bill
This Bill repeals and replaces the New Zealand Geographic Board Act 1946 and provides for a number of new functions to be carried out by the Board. These include the official naming of new parks and reserves, extending jurisdiction to naming features in the territorial sea (out to 12 nautical miles), the continental shelf, and in the Ross Dependency.
Surprisingly there is no new marine expertise proposed for the Board and public consultation is excluded for features outside New Zealand territorial sea.
Submissions close on this Bill on 21 September 2007 with the Government Administration Select Committee. The Bill is due to be reported back by the Select Committee before 7 February 2008.
Building Amendment Bill
This bill contains amendments intended to improve the workability of the Building Act 2004. It includes provisions related to leaky buildings and clarifies the regulation of small dams.
Public submissions closed on 3 September 07 with the Social Services Committee. The Bill is proposed to be reported back to Parliament by 5 November 2007.
Marine Reserves Bills
The Marine Reserves Bill is still languishing at the Local Government and Environment Select Committee. The Bill was introducted in 2002 and still had not been reported back by the Select Committee.
A private members bill on marine reserves from National MP Eric Roy, Marine Reserves (Consultation with Stakeholders) Amendment Bill is also with the Select Committee. This Bill places further hurdles for marine reserves. The Committee has not called submissions on this bill but it may be reported back without submissions.
Other Environment Bills
Two other important Bills are with the Local Government and Environment Committee:
- Resource Management (Climate Protection) Amendment Bill is a private members Bill from Green MP Jeanette Fitzsimons. This Bill removes the exemptions from the RMA for controlling greenhouse gas emissions. This is due to be reported back by 1 November 2007.
- Waste Minimisation (Solids) Bill is a private members bill by Green MP, Nandor Tanczos. This Bill introduces a new regime to better control waste and establish waste levies. This is due to be reported back by 31 October 2007.
Primary Production Committee
The Fisheries Act Amendment Bill is mired at the Primary Production Select Committee. The Bill introduces a precautionary approach to fisheries management and has been opposed by commercial fishing interests, the Maori Party and the National Party.
The Regulatory Responsibility Bill is a private members bill introduced by ACT MP Rodney Hide. Submissions closed in August. This Bill would place onerous requirements on environmental controls and ignores the public benefits from regulations.
Justice and Electoral Committee
The Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi Deletion Bill is a private members bill introduced by NZ First MP Peter Brown. Submissions have been heard on this Bill.
Bills reported back to Parliament
The Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area Bill is currently completing its final stages of being passed into law. The Bill was reported back in March and is still to go through the Committee stages. This Bill increases protection of the Waitakere Ranges.
Select Committees require 2 copies of each submission if made in writing. Those wishing to include any information in a submission of a private or personal nature should first discuss this with the clerk of the committee, as submissions are usually released to the public by the committee. Those wishing to appear before the committee to speak to their submissions should state this clearly and provide a daytime telephone contact number. To assist the Committee please include your postcode and an email address if you have one.
E-mail: SC-LGE@parliament.govt.nz; phone: 04 471 9079, fax: 04 499 0486. The postal address for select committee’s are Bowen House, Parliament Buildings, Wellington.