Controversy Over Non-Controversial Bill

by Desk Editor on Tuesday, May 19, 2015 — 5:34 PM

A usually non-controversial omnibus bill dealing with technical reserves and other land title issues has completed its second reading despite dealing with some controversial issues.

Land Information Minster Louise Upston said the Reserves and Other Lands Disposal Bill was an omnibus bill which usually dealt with non-controversial technical changes to land titles.

However Ms Upston said the bill however did attract controversy after it was introduced in 2008. These included the classification of land in Albert Park and its use for an art gallery. The select committee expressed disquiet at Parliament being drawn into the arguments, but the technical land title changes would proceed.

Ms Upston said the Government would be removing changes made by select committee concerning a Northland reserve being transferred to a business.

One of her predecessors Maurice Williamson said the Government did not agree with the insertion of the issue in the bill.

These clauses relate to an area of esplanade reserve at Opua. They would allow the local authority to grant easements, which would effectively allow certain commercial related activities to be conducted on the reserve.

Mr Williamson said the clauses were not appropriate for a Government Bill, as they breach Parliamentary convention by conferring a private benefit to an identifiable individual.

He said because the matter was first raised during public submissions on the Bill, the public has been given no opportunity to comment on what is proposed for the reserve. “In effect, Parliament is being asked to authorise a proposal that had not received the usual public scrutiny when the House considers a Bill. Proceeding with the three clauses could set an unwelcome precedent”.

Labour’s Damien O’Connor outlined the debate over the Northland issue which had spanned many decades and concerned the use of reserve land by a boat business.

Stuart Nash said Labour would support the bill which had taken a very long time to make progress since it was introduced in 2008. Mr Nash also indicted the Government’s approach to the controversial issues would be supported.

The bill completed its second reading on a voice vote.

MPs began the second reading of the Standards and Accreditation Bill.
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