Government looking into watering down power fast-track law brings ministers

The Government is looking at whether to water down the unprecedented power allowing a trio of ministers to decide which projects are rubber-stamped under the proposed fast-track law.

Infrastructure Minister Chris Bishop says he's open to making constructive changes.

NZ First Minister Shane Jones was in full flight, unlike our national bird.

"Gone are the days of the multi-coloured skink, the kiwi, many other species that have been weaponised to deny regional New Zealand communities their right to a livelihood," Jones said in Parliament.

"Shane's a good mate of mine and he has a way with words. I don't have his oratorical skills," National Party Minister Chris Bishop said.

Bishop and Jones are two of the trio of ministers giving themselves unprecedented power to decide which major projects bypass red tape and get the green light - but that could change.

"We're open to constructive changes on the fast-track regime to ameliorate some of the concerns that people have but we're also determined to cut through the thicket of red tape and green tape that's holding the country back," Bishop said.

Two government watchdogs have recommended changes to water down the power.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment said the legislation poses significant environmental risks because it deprioritised the environment, would allow activities previously banned and limits opportunities for environmental scrutiny.

"There's been some suggestions around how the panel should be the final decision-makers around that, in the same way as Labour's fast-track regime looked at. We'll have a good look at that," Bishop said.

The Auditor-General said he'd like to see a strengthening in the management of ministerial conflicts of interest.

Just hours before public feedback on the fast-track law closed, the Government released a list of hundreds of organisations who had been invited to apply.

One was King's Quarry which is connected to a $55,000 donation to New Zealand First and Shane Jones.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon said he was not aware of that.

"But I know that we will manage conflicts of interest incredibly well with this process," he added.

Though it's often not the conflict of interest but the perception of one that needs to be managed.