First reading speech notes for the Resource Management (Aquaculture Moratorium) Bill 2001Conservation
Mr Speaker I rise to support the Bill and would like to point out to the previous speaker that when it comes to issues such as consultation with Maori that the National Party and their track record in government demands that they do a bit of soul searching on that front.
Certainly for the Alliance, Mr Speaker, I can say that these issues have been raised in Caucus and no doubt colleagues will look very carefully at the work that's carried out by the Select Committee and undeniably there are issues that impact on iwi interests and other interests in relation to this moratorium, the propositions contained within the Bill and the significance of aquaculture as a burgeoning new form of industry.
But can I say, Mr Speaker, it's contradictory to actually have in the terrestrial environment very, very prescriptive planning through the district planning processes that see even the development of a carport on an individual property owner's section requiring compliance with side yard boundary provisions and district plans and so on and so forth whilst we blissfully ignore any kind of planned approach to what is occurring at the coastal edge not just in terms of aquaculture and its development but also other issues.
What we do know at the very least even though ignorance may be bliss is that the coastal regions and margins in New Zealand have been significantly degraded over time in our country through a range of different activities including pollution and indeed in some cases to benefit communities as a result of aquaculture activities.
So what this Government has done is said that we are going to support henceforth taking a more planned approach than the ad hoc approach that has existed in the past as a result of the newness of the activity in the marine environment and if the National Party have a problem with that then perhaps they should have put their hand up when we looked at the whole issue of a New Zealand biodiversity strategy which they supported as well but recognise what is occurring in the coastal marine environment, the impact on the biodiversity there and the need to take a better approach.
We have done that and the moratorium is part and parcel of that and I think undeniably there are ramifications as a result of that for those who put in applications to regional councils for consent.
But having said that, I endorse the Minister's words on the introduction of this legislation when she said there's been a gold rush in place and a gold rush is the only way that you can describe the fact that over 35,000 hectares worth of applications have been made that have not yet commenced hearings and let it also be remembered, Mr Speaker, that those applications that had already been entrain and before the Environment Court are not affected by the moratorium.
As the Minister of Local Government I want to say very clearly that this process demands that regional councils commence on a mission with a passion to ensure that the regional coastal plans do have as quickly as possible clear definition of where the communities that those regional councils are active in have a clear definition of what the community aspirations are in terms of where aquaculture might appropriately occur and where aquaculture might be precluded.
Can I also say that in terms of the iwi issues they are not just surrounded by aspirations for further development of aquaculture opportunities for tangata whenua which we support but also concerns about getting ring fenced out of the coastal edge and other issues in relation to the exercise of customary rights as enshrined in Section 4 of the Conservation Act, 6, 7 and 8 of the Resource Management Act and other legislation by virtue of the fact that a plethora of consents in a very ad hoc way to aquaculture activities at the coastal edge has effectively marginalised the exercise of some of those rights in the view of some of those iwi.
So the whole proposition of legislation to bring about a sense of order into the process of hearing these applications is critical at this time if as a country and as a parliament we are going to walk our talk about better protection of the marine coastal environment and the fostering of aquaculture in a way that ensures that it is appropriately managed and represents the aspirations of the local communities whose bays and inlets are going to be in fact impacted upon by this legislation.
Fundamentally aquaculture will only be available to take place in zoned areas, if that is appropriate in the terrestrial environment, why wouldn't it be appropriate in the far more fragile environment at the coastal edge.
Councils will be able to stage development within that zone so that development proceeds only where there's reasonable certainty about the environmental effects and I think that one of the things that our generation of Parliamentarians and New Zealanders need to ensure is that we don't continue the practice of borrow more future generations interests by taking a carte blanche gung ho approach to activities that leave ultimately very little for future generations so that the proposition of sustainable development that we all seem to be in adherence of will be enshrined in this legislation.
Further I think that what we are going to see is a better reflection through the tendering process considered by regional councils of opportunities for the people in the actual communities that live in these areas in terms of their desire to get aquaculture in their areas up and running.
There is a real risk, Mr Speaker, can I simply say in conclusion that a failure to do so could well see a gobble up of the total coastal marine environment in the interests of aquaculturists on a large scale at the expense of local communities who may want to get into this new industry and the opportunities that it presents.
In conclusion, Mr Speaker, can I say that I have read all the reports to date on this. I have attended all the joint Ministerial meetings and I have had discussions with a range of officials from various different government departments including the Ministry of Maori Development who support this legislation and I think that this is a sound approach in the new century bearing in mind the huge significance of this activity and its potential ramifications not just for this generation but for generations and communities yet to come.