Otago Daily Times
Climate close to new MP’s heart
NEW Zealand needs to aggressively decarbonise its economy, both for itself and for the sake of its Pacific neighbours, Labour Dunedin list MP Rachel Brooking told Parliament on Wednesday.
Ms Brooking, formerly an environment lawyer, used her maiden speech to focus on climate change, and the related issue of reform of the Resource Management Act.
‘‘This Government led the world in an iterative and transparent way, to the Covid19 challenge. We can take the same valuesdriven, evidencebased iterative approach to decarbonising,’’ Ms Brooking said.
‘‘If we want to lead the world in agriculture and tourism, I believe we must aggressively decarbonise our country, and our Pacific neighbours need us to do our best.’’
The Government on Wednesday announced plans to reform the RMA, an issue in which Ms Brooking has a longstanding interest.
A member of the committee which advised the Government on RMA reform, Ms Brooking said it was a crucial issue for Dunedin and one which she looked forward to working on in her new role as an MP.
‘‘In Dunedin we have a number of areas affected by heavy rain events synonymous with climate change; the homes affected are not expensive coastal properties.
‘‘If sealevel rise is not a factor then there are many interventions that can be made to enable people to live safely in these areas for now . . . we must not simply throw up our hands and give up on areas where people have built communities over generations without first trying to change by working collectively with central government, councils, mana whenua, and local communities.’’
Law makers needed to focus on enabling ‘‘positive climate mitigation measures’’ in planning legislation.
‘‘It will need to be principlesdriven ‘hot law’ to allow for the many different circumstances communities will, or may, face around the country,’’ Ms Brooking said.
‘‘The work of government to build an inclusive future, and protect the environment, is a longterm project, and it requires detailed thought, argument, listening, compromise, reflection, evaluation, and iteration.
‘‘I am grateful for the chance to stand in this House and am under no illusions about the scale of the task ahead.’’
Ms Brooking’s speech included a heartfelt thanks to the health system for saving the life of her father, University of Otago historian Tom Brooking, who recently had a serious heart attack.
She also thanked her husband, Chris Jackson, their three children, and her family and friends for their support in her quest to become an MP.
‘‘For me, it is now time to move beyond interpreting the law, to a place where I contribute more directly to the development of law,’’ she said.
‘‘Law that reflects our unique Treaty relationship. It must be clear and fair.
‘‘Wherever there are tensions between interests there will be tradeoffs, and these tradeoffs must be explicit, open, and equitable with decisions clearly, and simply, stating the justification for those tradeoffs.’’