Forest & Bird has laid an urgent complaint with the Chief Ombudsman, after MBIE officials took 30 days to refuse a request to release information on how the decisions are being weighted on nearly 2000 ‘shovel-ready’ project proposals.
Documents, including Forest & Bird’s complaint letter, are available here.
With $20b of public money at stake, and virtually no transparency around the ‘shovel-ready’ decision making processes, Forest & Bird is warning that officials are putting both democratic and environmental wellbeing at stake.
“The level of secrecy shrouding these processes and projects is deeply worrying. Forest & Bird entirely supports the aim of getting kiwis back to work, but we and many thousands of other New Zealanders want to know that these closed door processes are also prioritising our vulnerable native animals and their homes,” says Jen Miller, Forest & Bird spokesperson.
“MBIE has not provided a full list of project proposals, and now are refusing to provide the weighting on criteria by which the projects will be assessed – until after the decisions have been made.
“Jobs do not need to come at the expense of the environment. We can look after both, but the total lack of accountability within MBIE or its derivatives gives us no confidence that the environment is going to have any voice whatsoever at the table.
“Our understanding is that the Infrastructure Industry Reference Group, on which there is no environmental voice, is to meet and make its recommendations today, 22 May. This makes it too late to influence those decisions, or make sure that our natural world is not forgotten in the rush to generate jobs.”
“This is not what thousands of New Zealanders have been calling for, and not how a democracy should function," says Ms Miller.
20 April Forest & Bird submits OIA request under urgency
4 May Cabinet considers criteria for decisions making
5 May Minister’s Office advises that it is still deciding on criteria
19 May MBIE refuses to release the weighting of criteria on the basis that it will be made public soon
22 May Infrastructure Industry Reference Group will meet evaluate the over $100b of proposals