Privatising environmental decisions will cost the environment and the public

Forcing councils to contract out regulatory functions such as issuing resource consents is likely to cost the environment and the public, the Green Party said today.

When Environment Minister Nick Smith said at this weekend's National Party conference that he could force councils to contract out regulatory functions, he seemed to have forgotten that past experiences doing this very thing has been a disaster.

"We need environmental decision makers to operate in an open, transparent and democratically accountable way in order to protect our environment and the places New Zealanders treasure most," said Green Party environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage. 
 
"There is a major concern that if private, profit-driven companies are to be involved in environmental regulation and making resource consent decisions about new quarries, irrigation takes, discharges, subdivision, marine farming and activities that affect land, water and the coast, protection of the environment will be at the bottom of the list.

"Contracting our regulatory functions will make councils less accountable to citizens for the state of the local environment.

"With the last week's series of disasters involving the privatisation of prisons, it doesn't make sense to be talking about privatising even more services that should be kept in public hands. 
 
"In 2007, Queenstown Lakes District Council had to pay more than $3m to buy private company CivicCorp to bring its RMA consent processing and other regulatory functions back inhouse.

"CivicCorp was then the largest local government contracting company of its type in New Zealand.
 
"There had been long running disputes between QLDC and the CivicCorp about the company's poor performance and unacceptably high level of profit. Council had to bring its regulatory functions back inhouse to improve the services and so the council was able to carry out its statutory functions under RMA and other legislation.
 
"Forcing councils to privatise their regulatory roles is another attack on local democracy by having Ministers direct how councils should operate," said Ms Sage.
 

Action

Support our Climate Action Plan for bigger bolder climate action

We agree with all five of the School Strike for Climate's demands. Read more and sign the petition.
Take Action

Action

Show your support to end housing inequality

New Zealand’s housing market is becoming increasingly divided between people who own their own homes and those forced to rent for life...
Take Action

Latest Environment Announcements

Story

Minister welcomes report of nation’s household plastic rubbish, recycling practices

A new report on New Zealand’s plastic rubbish and recycling practices is being welcomed by the Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage.
Read More

Story

Flood of support for Top of the South catchment

Work to look after nature and restore freshwater quality in Te Hoiere/Pelorus River catchment is getting a significant boost, thanks to new Governm...
Read More

Policy

Healthy nature

Nature sustains us and is the basis of all life.  In Government the Greens have led the way in making sure our precious plants and animals are pr...
See More

Story

OIA reforms mean more attention to nature and cultural values

The Green Party welcome proposed changes to the Overseas Investment Act (OIA) that will see stronger controls on applications by overseas interests...
Read More

Story

California is burning, the US must not walk away from the Paris Agreement

Green Party Co-leader James Shaw has expressed his exasperation at the decision by the United States to officially withdraw from the Paris Agreemen...
Read More

Story

Minister announces fresh funding for community-led Hokianga environment project

A unique project enhancing the mana and wellbeing of the environment and the people of the Hokianga is to receive $300000 over three years from the...
Read More