The Govt's Fast Track Approvals Bill is the most harmful anti-nature law in decades.

The Bill is anti-environment, anti-democratic and undermines Te Tiriti. It will set up a new fast-track approvals process that gives a select group of Ministers the power to override protections and existing processes across almost all of Aotearoa’s environmental and planning laws to consent harmful projects.  

An Expert Panel can make recommendations on whether to approve or decline an application and recommend conditions - but the ultimate decision making on whether to approve or decline is up to three Ministers. These are the Minister for Infrastructure, Minister of Transport, and Minister for Regional Development, with almost no involvement from Ministers with environmental portfolios. 

Some projects will be listed in the Bill, but these projects haven’t been made public yet and the Select Committee will not be able to consider them. Projects on this secret list automatically go through the fast-track process and will almost certainly be consented regardless of their environmental impacts. Other projects can access the fast-track process down the line by applying to Ministers if they are deemed to be “regionally or nationally significant” – the bar is set very low for this. 


Here's how you can submit – do it now! 

  • This guide sets out prompts to help you understand the Bill and draft your own submission – whether a quick submission, or a more detailed submission.  
  • You can either submit directly through a form on the Parliament website, or you can submit a document prepared separately.  
  • Lodge your submission by the end of Friday 19 April 2024 this link. For extra instructions see link here. 
  • Your submission should start with your overall position on the Bill.  
  • Note whether or not you would like to submit orally to the Select Committee (we encourage you to do so if you are comfortable with that!)
  • If you submit in person, focus on your top issues rather than reading from your written submission. Speak to how the Bill affects you and your community, and the main reason why you oppose it.  
  • Leave time for questions at the end so that Committee members can seek any clarification or more detail on your concerns. 
  • Use the issues-based prompts provided below to guide you as you draft up a submission with any (or all) of the key issues identified that you are interested in.  
  • The more you put your submission into your own words the better. Submissions that are exactly the same are grouped together, rather than being read individually.  



Areas to focus on: 

Set out your overall position on the Bill. Wording we suggest is:

  • I strongly oppose the Bill 
  • I request that the Environment Select Committee recommend it does not proceed through further stages in Parliament. 

Choose the issues you’re most concerned about and want to mention in your submission, and use the prompts below to set out your concerns. Remember to make your submission as individual as possible – use these as prompts for your own words, rather than copy and paste.  


1. Environment

2. Te Tiriti

3. Fossil fuels and climate change  

4. Extraordinary Ministerial powers


1. Environmental protections  

Examples –  key ways the Bill will remove environmental protections: 

  • Excluding the Minister for the Environment from decisions. The Ministers for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development will be able to ignore environmental interests, through a process that can bypass environmental protection and management of environmental risks.  
  • There are no effective environmental protections in the fast track process. Ministers can approve projects even if they will have significant negative effects on the environment. It can override all other environmental legislation, giving industry a free pass to damage the environment. 
  • Over 60% of conservation land could be open to developers to fast track projects including new mines  
  • Members of the Expert Panels who consider the projects do not have to have any environmental expertise, even though they will recommend whether the projects should be approved to the Minister  
  • Activities prohibited by local plans because they are too risky for the environment or to human health, may go ahead. For example, the incineration of hazardous waste and dumping of waste in coastal areas 

Prompts – using some examples from above and the questions draft up your concerns; 

  • In your own words, explain why big corporations should not be able to bypass the environmental protections in New Zealand law 
  • Set out why is it important to you that Expert Panels responsible for making recommendations on whether to consent a project (and the conditions that should apply to them to make them safe) are required to have environmental expertise? 
  • Say why you are concerned that three industry-focused Ministers will be able to ignore and exclude local councils, environmental experts , communities and iwi and hapū from input on whether projects are safe for the local environment? 

Recommendations – tell the Committee what you want to see changed in this Bill. Examples could be:  

  • Make the Minister for the Environment a decision making minister  
  • Strengthen protections in the Bill against environmental harm  
  • Remove the ability for the Bill’s development focus to override other environmental legislation 
  • Exclude all public conservation land from the fast-track process 
  • Require the Expert Panel membership to include environmental expertise 
  • Do not allow prohibited activities to go ahead under the fast-track process 



2. Te Tiriti  

Examples – key ways the Bill undermines Te Tiriti and rights and interest of Māori  

  • Unlike other environmental laws, it allows development interests to outweigh any requirement for decision-makers to consider Te Tiriti, kaitiakitanga, or the relationship of iwi and hapū with their lands and waterways. 
  • It makes lots of big changes to the way land and precious natural resources are used, which has significant impacts on Māori rights and interests. As Tiriti partners, Māori have had an inappropriately short amount of time to feed into the Bill, which risks it being passed without properly understanding what the impacts on Māori will be, including potentially breaching Te Tiriti and settlements. 
  • It acknowledges existing Treaty Settlements, but there is very little detail on how Treaty Settlements will be honoured under this new process that concentrates so much power with Ministers. 
  • The engagement requirements focus on identified Māori groups such as iwi authorities but there is no ability to notify these projects as broadly as they would be under existing law  
  • Projects could be approved despite being on wāhi tapu, on disputed land that iwi are trying to get returned under a future settlement, or on other areas significant to Māori  
  • Members on the Expert Panel only need an “understanding” of tikanga Māori and mātauranga Māori 

Prompts – using some examples from above and the questions draft up your concerns; 

  • Set out why is it important for a Bill that will have significant impacts on conservation and iwi and hapū land to mention Te Tiriti o Waitangi and if so what do you think it should set out? 
  • Explain why it is important to include Te Tiriti o Waitangi in a Bill that will have significant impacts on iwi, hapū, and conservation land, and what provisions do you believe it should include?   
  • In your own words tell the Committee why it is important to you for any consenting process to ensure that the project does not negatively impact the relationship of Māori with their culture, tikanga, whenua, taonga, and waterways? 

Recommendations – given the concerns you have set out above, tell the Committee what you want to see changed, some examples are set out below: 

  • That the Government works in good faith with Māori to ensure that the Bill details more clearly how treaty settlements will be upheld in full 
  • Include a clear Treaty clause that requires the fast-track process to give effect to kaitiakitanga rights of iwi and hapū  
  • Ensure that if a project will be declined if it will have negative impacts on the relationship of Māori with their culture, traditions and taonga (not just Treaty settlements) 



3. Fossil fuels and climate change  

Examples – key ways this bill will enable new fossil fuel mining and undermine climate action   

  • The extraction of dirty fossil fuels like oil and gas will be eligible for the fast-track process. This goes directly against the need to transition to a low emissions future, allowing lobbyists and the Coalition Government to lock in fossil fuel dependency for decades to come.  
  • There is no requirement for any projects to be assessed against our climate goals and budgets under the Zero Carbon Act  
  • Projects like coal mines can be fast-tracked even if they are in conflict with our national policies and standards on vital issues like freshwater and biodiversity  
  • The impact of a project on climate adaptation or mitigation is a discretionary consideration for the Minister -  this means they could choose not to even consider it when approving a project 

Prompts – using some examples from above and the questions draft up your concerns 

  • What concerns do you have about enabling new fossil fuel projects through a consenting process that excludes public input and concentrates decision making with Ministers? 
  • In your own words, can you explain why it is important that projects such as new highways and coal mines be required to comply with national standards and policies for freshwater and biodiversity for example? 
  1. What concerns do you have with infrastructure planning and development under the Bill that is ad hoc rather than strategic? 

Recommendations – – tell the Committee what you want to see changed in this Bill. Examples could be:  

  • Exclude any fossil fuel projects from the fast-track processes (coal, oil and gas) 
  • Require any projects to align with climate targets and plans 
  • Make climate emissions and adaptation risks a compulsory consideration for any decision making 



4. Extraordinary Ministerial powers  

Examples – key ways the Bill sets up extraordinary Ministerial powers and undemocratic process 

  • Ministers without any environmental portfolios are giving themselves an extraordinary power to approve projects which could include new coal mines, mines on precious conservation land, and the destruction of the seabed. 
  • The Government has refused to confirm exactly which projects will be going straight into the fast-track process. This gives the public and the Select Committee no opportunity to consider these projects. Despite this, the projects that will be automatically fast tracked will not be subject to the few environmental protections in the decision-making criteria for referral included in the Bill.  
  • There are no requirements to consult with the public when Ministers consider projects for fast tracking. This includes iwi and hapū, environmental experts or communities who will be directly impacted.  
  • Concentrating all the decision-making power with ministers lacks transparency and independence – risking decisions that are based on lobbying and crony politics instead of evidence about environmental impacts.  

Prompts – using some examples from above and the questions draft up your concerns; 

  • What values do you believe are important for New Zealand’s democracy? Do you see these values are reflected in the decision-making process in this Bill? 
  • How do you feel about the lack of opportunity for the public to have a say on decisions about what projects are consented in their communities? 
  • What role do you think experts should play in the decision-making process about whether projects are consented? 
  • What concerns do you have about Ministers being able to grant themselves powers to make decisions about specific industry projects, which override the decisions of the courts and experts? 
  • Are there any projects that you are concerned about going ahead in your community? What impacts are you concerned they will have? 

Recommendations – tell the Committee what you want to see changed in this Bill. Examples could be:  

  • Make the Expert Panel the decision maker, not the Minister 
  • Require the Expert Panel to consult with the public, environmental experts and iwi and hapū  
  • Do not allow the Bill to override environmental legislation like the Conservation Act and the Wildlife Act 
  • Make sure all projects under the Bill are consistent with national, regional, and local environmental standards and protections (such as freshwater and biodiversity) 
  • Make sure that the projects on the list are required to pass all environmental protections 
  • That the Bill be referred back to the Select Committee for public scrutiny of the list of projects once these are confirmed, rather than having them included just before the Bill is passed with no public input