New Zealand Labour Party

National must rule out retrospective override for Ruataniwha

National must categorically rule out using retrospective legislation to override the Supreme Court’s decision that the land swap of conservation land flooded by the proposed Ruataniwha Dam was illegal, says Labour’s Shadow Attorney General David Parker.

“Having not got their own way with the nation’s highest court, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Conservation have arrogantly said they will look to change the law after the Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeal decision.

“This threat of legislation with retrospective effect is constitutionally outrageous, regardless of it happening before or after the election. It is a pity the Minister cannot show some humility, admit the mistake, and apologise.

“New Zealanders who rightfully say the land swap decision was invalid won a fair decision, despite the Government using all of the resources of the State to oppose them. The decision of New Zealand’s highest Court must now be respected.

“To rob those who won by now changing the law retrospectively would be a return to the Clyde Dam empowering legislation and the disastrous National Development Act of Muldoon’s National Government.

“National’s broader claim that the law will need to be changed is also wrong. Their ignorance is astounding. It is nonsense to suggest that other earlier land swaps are now illegal.

“Even if they were, no court would order that road realignments now in place be reversed, as the Minister implied on radio this morning. It is also nonsense to suggest that future land swaps would be illegal just because this one is.

“The Ruataniwha Dam bears many similarities with the Clyde Dam. The Government has wasted millions on its planning and seems hell-bent on seeing it built regardless of the consequences for the environment and the law.

“The adverse environmental consequences are clear and like the Clyde dam, it is being built on an earthquake fault.

“The Clyde dam was an expensive “Think Big” mistake that only happened because of constitutionally bankrupt retrospective legislation.

“Let’s not make the same mistake again. After nine years, it is plain for everyone to see we need a fresh approach,” says David Parker.