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Fast track committee not undermined by MP’s donation – National

MacLeod claimed one of three South Taranaki seats up for grabs on the council.

New Plymouth MP David Macleod received $10,000 from a donor holding shares in a company hoping to benefit from the fast-track legislation.
Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

The National Party insists there has been no conflict of interest in David Macleod chairing the committee considering the controversial fast track bill.

The New Plymouth MP received $10,000 from a donor holding shares in a company hoping to benefit from the legislation.

Macleod was yesterday removed from his position as chairman of Parliament’s Environment Select Committee for failing to properly declare donations to his election campaign.

Phil Brown, a New Plymouth businessman with significant shares in a seabed mining company, donated $10,000 to Macleod.

Mining project Trans-Tasman Resources wants to mine iron sands off the Taranaki coast and hopes to get the green light under the Fast Track bill once it becomes law.

The legislation is being considered by the Environment Select Committee, which Macleod has chaired since December.

MPs on the committee have no control over which projects will move forward after the bill is passed, but they can suggest changes to the legislation.

Te Pati Maori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer believed their relationship represented a significant conflict of interest.

“When you have the chairman of that committee, who has received $10,000 from one of those who will benefit greatly from the changes to the legislation, then that is wrong.”

Brown told RNZ nothing untoward had happened.

“When I made that donation, in my personal capacity, we had no knowledge that he was actually going to be a deputy, or if in fact he was going to be appointed to that position. That is something that has developed as time goes by. . by,” Brown said.

In a statement to RNZ, a National Party spokesperson said there was no conflict of interest in relation to Macleod’s role on the committee.

“The committee is hearing presentations on fast-track legislation, not considering projects that could apply to be considered for the fast-track process,” the statement said.

The Prime Minister has said Coromandel MP Scott Simpson will replace MacLeod as chair of the environment committee.

Simpson is a former associate environment minister and National’s opposition environment spokesperson.

“Scott has a wealth of experience, knows portfolios well, and will be truly excellent at the job,” said Christopher Luxon.

The committee will meet next Thursday to elect the president. Simpson said there was still a process to go through and he didn’t want to get ahead of himself.

“I’m looking forward to joining the committee. I was on the environment committee in a previous Parliament and, in fact, I chaired Parliament’s environment committee before. So I’m looking forward to getting back into that area of ​​political work.”

Simpson had already served on the committee on the fast-track legislation, so he was already “in the know,” he said.

“It’s big, meaty legislation. It’s a key point on the coalition government’s policy agenda. So I’m looking forward to getting back to it as a member of the select committee.”

It is not yet clear when MPs will report on the bill, but Simpson doubts the change in the committee’s composition will delay its work.

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