MP laments project vote

Jacqui Dean
Jacqui Dean
Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean has slammed the Government’s rejection of a move to fast-track three Otago infrastructure projects, labelling the reason behind it as "lame".

In Parliament on Thursday, the National MP tabled three supplementary order paper amendments to the Covid-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Bill, proposing to include the Kakanui bridge replacement project in North Otago, the Clyde-Alexandra water and wastewater project, and the Cromwell roundabout project at the junction of State Highways 6 and 8.

All three were voted down, which Mrs Dean said was a "wasted opportunity".

"This particular fast-track consenting legislation was sold on the basis it would create jobs and provide economic stimulus, as well as addressing some of the issues with roads and bridges.

"Yet when a number of us [MPs] put up SOPs, they were turned down flat. I asked David Parker (Minister for the Environment, Trade and Export Growth, and Associate Minister of Finance) as part of the debate in the committee stage why are we turning all these projects down which would have done exactly what his legislation was intending to do, and really it came down to what I thought was quite a lame reason, which is we don’t want to overload this new panel of Environment Court judges and other panelists who are going to be assessing the applications.

"That’s kind of lame ... if you’re trying to put a process to fast-track consents down to something like 30 days, which is brilliant in this post-covid world, you at least look at the projects. You don’t discard them."

Two of the projects — the bridge replacement and water and wastewater project — were also included in the Waitaki and Central Otago District Councils’ respective "shovel-ready" project submissions to the Government in April.

Mrs Dean said in the case of the Kakanui Bridge it was a project whose "time has come".

"Residents in the surrounding area have every right to feel disappointed — they want to see more jobs for local people and so do I. The Government still has money up its sleeve. I strongly urge them to reconsider and fund this project."

daniel.birchfield@odt.co.nz

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