In a feeble attempt to bolster National’s half-baked efforts to recover costs over the grounding of the Rena, Nick Smith has clearly breached the Resource Management Act, says Labour Deputy Leader and Environment spokesperson Grant Robertson.
"When charges were laid against the captain and first officer of the Rena in November, the Minister noted that; ‘in fact it would be remiss given that it is New Zealand's worst maritime environmental disaster’ if charges weren’t laid against the ship's owners under the RMA.
"This is a clear breach of the role of the Minister under the Resource Management Act. Nick Smith himself has told Parliament that ‘the statute sets down very clearly that I as Minister for the Environment should not be encouraging or discouraging a proper independent decision by Environment Bay of Plenty as to whether they should not take a prosecution’.
"Of course all New Zealanders want to see those responsible for the grounding of the Rena held to account. This may well include prosecution under the RMA. But in a serious situation what Kiwis don’t have time for is a Minister gilding the lily for political gain,” Grant Robertson said.
“The Minister needs to be upfront with New Zealanders. He has taken it upon himself to make it sound like the government is holding those responsible to account. The truth is that it is not actually his call.
"Nick Smith has breached the role of the Minister for the Environment under the RMA. He should just front up and admit that he got it wrong, and focus on recovering the millions of taxpayer dollars that have been spent on the clean-up," Grant Robertson said.