Tuesday, 19 September 2006

Court limits government RMA action

So there are limits to government. Some. Turns out even the otherwise egregious Resource Management Act places some limits on government action, as the High Court has just told minister Chris Carter. That's a good thing.

When Carter delivered his own ultra vires verdict killing the marina project he said he "had serious concerns about aspects of the proposal," all of which had already been dealt with in court. "Under the Resource Management Act," he said, "the Conservation Minister is the final decision-maker on restricted coastal activities."

No he isn't. That's what this court decision says. Notes the Herald this morning:
Mr Carter said he would not be commenting until he had decided whether to appeal.
"I need to look carefully at what Justice Fogarty has had to say on the matter, " he said. "I have not yet had that opportunity."
In other words, "I'm not commenting until this embarrassing decision has gone away." Let's hope not. It's already taken the Whangamata Marina Society years to get to this point, and this decision still doesn't give them any certainty.

LINKS: You made a mistake over marina, judge tells minister - NZ Herald
Get Carter - Not PC (March, 2006)

Environment, RMA, Politics-NZ, Politics-National, Politics-Labour


  1. 119. Decision on application for restricted coastal activity
    (1) Within 20 working days of receiving –
    (a) A recommendation on an application for a coastal permit for a restricted coastal
    activity; or
    (b) Where an inquiry by the Environment Court into that recommendation has been made,
    the report of the Environment Court, –
    the Minister of Conservation shall make a decision on the application and give reasons for that
    (2) When considering his or her decision on the application, the Minister of Conservation shall –
    (a) Take into account the recommendation of the hearing committee or report of the
    Environment Court, as the case may be; and
    (b) Have regard to the matters set out in section 104 –
    and, subject to subsections (3) and (6), may grant or refuse to grant the coastal permit and, in
    granting the permit, may include any conditions in it in accordance with section 108.
    (3) The Minister of Conservation shall not grant or refuse to grant a coastal permit for a restricted
    coastal activity, or include any conditions in a permit, if the reason for granting or refusing the
    permit or including the condition is based on a matter that was not considered by the hearing
    committee under section 117 or, where there was an appeal, by the Environment Court in its
    inquiry, without the written agreement of the parties to the hearing or appeal, as the case may

    Thought I'd pot section 119 of the RMA for some background. Good Judge, bad Minister. Seems Mr Carter acted contrary to subsection 3. That's just basic. . . I would have thought with all the lawyers and advicors the LP hire, surely thed' not make such a basic error. . .

  2. Thanks for that p-style.

    What amazes me is that the Crown Law Office mustn't have picked this up - which makes me wonder if Carter actually asked the CLO for legal advice in rejecting the proposal. Seems like he didn't.


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