INDEPENDENT NEWS

Nandor welcomes change on Ngawha opposition

Published: Thu 12 Sep 2002 04:15 PM
Nandor welcomes change of heart on Ngawha opposition
Green Justice Spokesperson Nandor Tanczos today welcomed a Government change of heart in withdrawing action to seek costs of up to $500,000 from opponents of the proposed Ngawha prison.
In response to an oral question from Nandor in parliament this afternoon new Corrections Minister Mark Gosche said the Government had reversed the original decision to pursue costs of up to half a million dollars against four groups.
The groups were seeking to uphold the decision of the Northland Regional Council to refuse a resource consent for a prison at Ngawha near Kaikohe, which included local community groups, families and the regional council.
The Department of Corrections won an appeal against that decision, and the four groups were denied leave to appeal to the High Court.
"This is an important move by the new Minister. The decision to build a prison at Ngawha was a bad one. The whole process was badly mishandled by the previous minister Matt Robson. The decision to chase costs was an attempt to punish opponents and warn off other communities that might challenge the department."
Nandor said if the Crown had successfully secured a costs judgement it would have bankrupted some of the groups who were challenging the decision to build at Ngawha and the poor processes that led to the decision.
"I am disgusted that the Department was seeking costs against an impoverished community whose crime was to try to stop the desecration of their waahi tapu, and against the Regional Council for doing its job. It is not a good look.
"For Project Manager John Hamilton to say the Department had no choice but to pursue costs is just rubbish. The Department is deliberately trying to punish opponents of the prison as a warning to other communities. This is real bully-boy stuff.
"Mark Gosche has made a good start. Of course the big question is the prison itself. "

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