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option4 statement to Auckland Conservation Board 26/6/03

Scott Macindoe address to Auckland Conservation Board
regards public consultation for Great Barrier marine reserve proposal.

I would like to focus on the process of public consultation for the Great Barrier Island marine reserve proposal.

This is a 90 day process, launched late in March.

There has been minimal promotion of the process in main stream media.

There is an ongoing refusal by the DoC to consider public meetings in Auckland.

The process is to be completed, as far as the public are concerned, in 4 days time.

We look forward to a timely release of submission analysis. We would expect preliminary results to be available by mid August - 6 weeks to do the data entry and analyse the trends. We accept that analysis of this particular questionnaire will be quite challenging, given the lack of question and answer structure.

It is with some concern that we now realise that some pretence of extended public consultation is being considered by DoC. Last Friday, an official from the DoC called me to ask if I, or option4, would be interested in participating in a "strategic approach" to marine reserves. This would involve a series of meetings. My reply was that that went without saying; a coordinated approach to protection is essential.

On Tuesday, as requested, the official called me again and I realised I had misunderstood the message from Friday. This time I was asked if we were interested in participating in a series of "drop in" meetings with people selected by DoC to discuss a strategic approach to the Great Barrier proposal. I made it quite clear that any process that did not involve complete transparency and offer the public reasonable time and attendance at a series of well organised and constructive public forums would be vigorously opposed and in fact would likely be condemned.

Let me make clear the position option4 occupies. We certainly have no mandate to "go behind closed doors" to discuss the Great Barrier proposal. We are totally committed to continuing our role of making up for the deficiencies in various public consultations by bringing forward an advocacy that demands balance and completeness. We often fall back on the auditor's mantra of, complete, timely and accurate. Sadly, "drop in" meetings as described on Tuesday fail that standard.

I asked the official to confirm in writing what had been discussed in our three telephone conversations. Despite an assurance that it was already in draft form, I have received nothing in writing as of now, day 86 of the 90 day public consultation process.

I ask you, the Board, to take a leadership role and seek an urgent clarification of how this public consultation process is to be completed.

In the absence of a 90 day extension of time for the public and a series of well promoted and planned public meetings, we ask that the current public consultation process be concluded as planned on the 30th June and the results of submission analysis be delivered as quickly as possible. Only then, in my opinion, do we have a basis for further targeted consultation.

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