Law change a step closer

ROSA STUDHOLME
Last updated 05:00 16/06/2012

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A bill that will clear the contentious subdivision on Oamaru's Cape Wanbrow of its reserve status has had its first reading in Parliament.

The 27-section subdivision on Cape Wanbrow above Oamaru Harbour has been on hold for six years waiting for a clause in the Reserves and Other Lands Disposal (Rold) Bill, which will clear the land of its reserve status, to be passed through Parliament.

The error, made in the 1930s, was discovered only in 2006.

The sale of the subdivision was to raise $3 million for the $10.3m Oamaru Opera House refurbishment that was completed in 2009.

The Rold bill successfully passed its first reading two years ago.

On Wednesday, Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean, presented the Waitaki District Council Reserves and Other Land Empowering Bill to Parliament, which passed its first reading.

The bill aims to "clarify" the status of the land. It was originally set aside in 1885 by order in council as part of a larger block for the purposes of an endowment for the Oamaru Borough Council.

The bill will now go to the local government and environment select committee before being open for public submissions. Hearings would be heard in late August or early September.

"That committee will be doing everything we can to make it easy and accessible for anybody who wishes to make a submission to do so," Mrs Dean said.

Options could be to travel to Wellington.

"On the other hand Oamaru is an awfully long way from Wellington so people can make submissions by phone-link. There's also the option of having a video link."

A hearing held in Oamaru was also an option, she said.

She encouraged people to come to her with any questions or concerns.

She was confident the bill would be back in Parliament for its second reading by the end of the year.

"You never know your luck, it could be [passed] by the end of the year."

Private member bills generally moved through the parliamentary process quicker than others.

She said the Rold bill was not a high priority for the Government at the moment.

"I don't anticipate there will be any delay with [the Waitaki] bill."

Mrs Dean said the bill had been supported by Labour and the Greens.

The bill also revokes the reservation of the Palmerston Showgrounds and an area of land in north Oamaru.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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