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Eugenie Sage on the West Coast Wind-blown Timber (Conservation Lands) Bill, Committee stages

I would like to take another call to talk a bit about the regulatory impact statement, because this is a very honest regulatory impact statement. It makes it very clear that the initiatives for this legislation, the *West Coast Wind-blown Timber (Conservation Lands) Bill, is totally and utterly the *Minister of Conservation's, and that the Minister has very clear objectives about the amount of timber that is going to be recovered. The regulatory impact statement, which you would normally get when a bill was introduced, has been on the Table of the House only since late this afternoon, so there has been very limited opportunity for people to read it thoroughly, but it is a very honest and direct document.

One of the options that the regulatory impact statement looks at is whether the recovery of wind-throw timber could be done under existing legislation. It goes through the risks of that. One of them was that there would be a risk of judicial review. One of them was that there would be strong opposition because the existing law is seen as protecting conservation land and prohibiting timber recovery, and that people would see it as opening the door for a similar response to common windfall events, so making the risk of judicial review very high.

One of the other risks that the department identified is that the process in the existing legislation—that is the *Conservation Act—was not designed to cater efficiently and effectively to the type of recovery intended by the Minister, and nor would it be possible to allow that level of recovery. So what is the Minister intending here? The very nature of the legislation, which talks about designated areas but then defines "designated area" as *"every conservation area and reserve within the West Coast region that is owned by the Crown and administered by the Department ...", other than ecological areas, the *South West New Zealand World Heritage Area, the **Waitangiroto Nature Reserve, and national parks—that means that every bit of the West Coast other than those specified areas is open to logging.

If the Minister is directing that there be a high level of timber recovery to maximise the potential for revenue gain by logging companies, that is exposing all of those lands to logging. The regulatory impact statement is also very honest in saying that the reason for the research is that "He"—the Minister—"also wishes to use the event as an opportunity to research the ecological effect of timber recovery, to allow the potential for harvest in future to be better assessed." So it is being very clear that this National Government is intending to open up all conservation lands for logging. The Minister is shaking his head. Why does the Department of Conservation's evaluation of this legislation quite clearly say that this bill is all about what the Minister wants in terms of the level of timber recovery and the inability for people to challenge logging? It highlights some of the problems with the status quo—that there are lots of ecological impacts in terms of the scientific research that has been done, which shows how essential standing and fallen logs are to the whole forest cycle. Yet members on the opposite benches just dismiss all of that.

This regulatory impact statement is very clear, and I would encourage people to read it, because it is showing that the Department of Conservation did not come up with this legislation. Once again, the Minister has his hands all over it, directing the department to compromise the purpose in the Conservation Act to allow logging not just on the West Coast potentially but in other areas of New Zealand as well. That is a travesty.