Marine Bill Progresses

by Desk Editor on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 — 5:44 PM

Marine legislation reform completed its committee stage today with general support, though there was strong opposition to an amendment which will make exploratory drilling consents non-notifiable.

The Marine Legislation Bill amends the Maritime Transport Act and Exclusive Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act to clarify port and harbour safety, and transfers the regulation of offshore discharges from Maritime New Zealand to the Environmental Protection Authority.

The bill is widely supported, however a Government amendment allowing certain marine activities to be non-notified if it “has a low probability of significant adverse effects on the environment or is routine or exploratory in nature”.

It also brings into force a number of international treaty obligations which amongst other things raises the liability for the clean-up of wrecks such as the Rena.

Most opposition to the bill was around an SOP which would mean consent for some marine activities to be non-notified if it is low risk – this includes exploratory drilling for oil and gas.

Labour MP Moana Mackey said such drilling should be notified so the public and interested parties could make submissions. Drilling was not a risk free activity and the risk should be assessed.

Mackey said the late amendments were intended to “grease the palms” of the oil industry to ensure they worked in New Zealand.

National’s Cam Calder said the bill created good regulation balancing the environment with economic development.

The minister’s amendments passed by 68 to 53 with National, NZ First, ACT and United Future in favour

The bill was reported with amendment and MPs began the committee stage of the Copyright (Parallel Importing of Films) Amendment Bill. The bill continues the ban on the parallel importation of films for three more years but reduces the length of the ban from 9 to 5 months.

It passed its second reading by 104 votes to 14 with Greens, Mana and Horan opposed with the Greens arguing the ban was pointless and did not take into account changes in technology.

Both National and Labour MPs have said there will be no further extension of the ban when it expires in 2016.

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