Helen White: MP for Mt Albert

The National Government is sacrificing nature and granting itself unprecedented power, all in the name of private profit.

What’s more, it doesn’t want any Kiwis, including those here in Auckland, to have any say about any of it.

Currently, large-scale projects like coal mines are subject to environmental protection laws and must be given the go-ahead by an independent group of experts. National’s proposed Fast Track Approvals Bill will remove that power from the experts and hand it to its own Ministers, giving three men the final say on the fate of some of our most treasured natural assets.

And by all indications so far, these men will give the green light to companies looking to trample our ecosystems and plunder our resources. One of these three men is New Zealand First MP Shane Jones, who has made no secret of his desire to put commercial interests ahead of our flora and fauna. He has made it clear he wants mining back in a big way, whatever the cost to our environment, climate goals and future generations.

Unsurprisingly, the Fast Track Approvals Bill is hugely unpopular. Submissions from the public have been overwhelmingly against it. Seven of our eight regional councils have opposed it. The Auditor-General has formally expressed his concern. Even former National minister Simon Upton, now Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, has warned of “significant environmental risks.” The Bill is a disaster on an industrial scale and National is hellbent on making it happen.

Fast track consenting can work well if implemented correctly. Labour’s fast track consenting scheme approved projects for residential and commercial building, renewable energy and infrastructure. The difference is we gave a great deal of consideration to how those projects could work with nature rather than against it, and all approvals were made by independent panels.

By contrast, National’s Fast Track Approvals Bill is an assault on nature, transparency and democracy, all in the name of private profit.

My colleagues and I are working hard in Wellington to hold the National Government to account as they press through a range of unpopular policies, such as the Fast Track Approvals Bill and cuts to the free and healthy school lunch programme.

I’m also keeping busy throughout the Mt Albert electorate. I recently held a public meeting on the high cost of poverty with the Auckland City Mission, where we discussed how hard it is to make ends meet on a benefit – without savings, people often can’t afford the costs of rent and food. The City Mission is at the coal face, and they are seeing increasing need. I’m highly concerned about the security of funding for food banks and the recent cuts in funding for budgeting services. Community services like these are doing incredibly important work on the front lines as we head into winter. (HELEN WHITE)

On a positive note, other highlights of the last month include hosting a morning tea with local community organisations and speaking at the 'Leaders of Tomorrow' forum at Mount Albert Grammar School. It was inspiring to see so many students involved in clubs and contributing to our community.



#ponsonbynews #iloveponsonby #loveponsonby #ponsonby #auckland #aucklandshippestrip #onlyponsonby #ponsonbyroad #Greylynn #freemansbay #westmere #ponsonby #hernebay #stmarysbay #archhill #coxsbay @followers #followers @everyone #everyone #waitematalocalboard @highlight #helenwhitempmtalbert #NZpolitics

Published: May 2024