17 Oct 2013

Minister dismisses Labour privileges complaint as stunt

9:02 am on 17 October 2013

Conservation Minister Nick Smith has dismissed a privileges complaint by Labour Party leader David Cunliffe as a joke and a political stunt.

The complaint alleges Dr Smith is misleading Parliament over when he knew about a draft Department of Conservation submission on the proposed Ruataniwha Dam.

Dr Smith has repeatedly told Parliament he knew nothing about the submission, which raised potential environmental problems with the dam, until it was reported last month by Radio New Zealand News.

However, Mr Cunliffe says Dr Smith has dissembled to cover his tracks over the matter.

He told Morning Report that Dr Smith had apparently lied to Parliament about whether he knew about a the DoC draft submission on the in Hawke's Bay dam.

Mr Cunliffe says Dr Smith and other ministers have railroaded the dam-approval the process.

He says while the Labour Party is not opposed in principle to projects such as the Ruataniwha Dam, and want to see better water storage, the way in which the Board of Inquiry has been railroaded by ministers under pressure from commercial interests sets a very low standard of behaviour.

Mr Cunliffe says while Dr Smith asserts the first he knew about issues with the draft was on 29 July, records show he was briefed in May and June.