Parliament

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 

Marion Hobbs Resource Management Law Speech

MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
HON MARIAN HOBBS
SPEECH NOTES

RESOURCE MANAGEMENT LAW ASSOCIATION
SOUTHERN CROSS HOTEL
DUNEDIN
12.30pm
11 FEBRUARY 2000


Thank you for the invitation to attend your luncheon meeting.

I am pleased to give one of my first talks as Environment Minister to the Resource Management Law Association. The Association plays an invaluable, and perhaps unique, role in bringing together all the resource management disciplines (planning, law, surveying, landscape architects etc) under one umbrella. This concept has my full support.

The flyer for this meeting announced that I would be discussing the Resource Management Amendment Bill, the programme for the Ministry for the Environment, and the Environment Court.

A discussion is exactly what I am after. I will not be making announcements. Rather I thought I'd make a few general comments after less than three months in the job. I will keep my talk brief as I am keen to hear your views as practitioners. You will appreciate that despite a lot of reading and talking to a range of people I am not an overnight expert in all the environmental issues facing New Zealand, nor the intricacies of the Resource Management Act. But rest assured, I still have an open mind.

Resource Management Amendment Bill

The Government is very supportive of the Resource Management Act. No doubt the Act can be fine tuned and the costs of compliance hopefully reduced. However, the Government has reservations with aspects of the Amendment Bill the previous Government introduced.

The Bill is before the Local Government and Environment Select Committee. The Committee is chaired by Greens Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons and its members include David Benson-Pope from Dunedin. I understand the Committee has received almost 400 submissions.

The Labour Party has talked of "splitting" the Bill. No decisions have been made on this yet. Because the Bill is before the Select Committee the Government can not simply split clauses off the Bill. However, the Committee has asked me for the Government's views on parts of the Bill it might not want to proceed with. I expect decisions will be made over the next few weeks on this. I expect the Committee will then start hearing submissions and report back to Parliament perhaps around May.

I doubt the Government's views will surprise many people here. We want local authorities to retain control of the resource consent process. This means we have concerns over proposals to require contestable processing of consents, to require councils to appoint commissioners to make decisions, and for applications to be heard directly by the Environment Court.

I am interested in your views on which parts of the Bill should or should not proceed. I might say though, that a lot of the provisions are finely balanced between different views and need very careful consideration. Such consideration is very much the role of a select committee.

Issues and Priorities (for the Ministry for the Environment)

In terms of issues and priorities there are six areas I'd like to raise today where I am keen to make progress. These will be priority areas for the Ministry for the Environment. I am keen to hear your views on them.

The first is national guidance. There is a need for national policy statements and national environmental standards, as well as guidelines from the Ministry for the Environment, to help provide guidance and consistency to local government, business and the community. Biodiversity and historic heritage appear to be front runners for national policy statements. But the demands for such national policy statements is growing.

The second is barriers to public participation. We need to research the facts, and to examine what role helping to fund expert advisors or legal aid for Environmental Court hearings could play in assisting effective participation. I also want to encourage mediated and less adversarial settlements at all levels in the system.

The third is an emphasis on environmental outcomes. There has been a lot of focus in the last few years on process - delays, costs, etc. Clearly processes need to be efficient. But, the key focus must be environmental outcomes. That is why we have the Resource Management Act. We need to be sure we are heading (in the right direction) towards sustainable management of resources and that the rules and controls we have in place are necessary. This means monitoring of the environment, compliance with consents, and performance of plans is critical. Recently I attended the launch of the Wellington Regional Council's: Measuring Up. I found its matching up of decisions with effects on the environment was an excellent assesment.

In terms of issues, biodiversity is a key area. The Biodiversity Strategy has been completed and will be released shortly. Of even greater interest to this audience will be the Report of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on the effects of private land management on indigenous biodiversity.

That report will also be released within the next few weeks. It is the first part of an important process that will see the government, after consultation, put in place the first comprehensive and integrated strategy to deal with the private land/biodiversity issues. It seeks to address the difficult issues associated with property rights - and responsibilities. An integral part of this strategy is likely to be the first National Policy Statement under the Act. But it will also address the broader non-Resource Management Act matters such as pest management, central government incentives and indigenous forest policy.

It is a matter that I fully expect to receive widespread, and I hope considered, debate and I welcome contributions from you all.

Fifthly, the urban environment requires greater attention at a national level. We can not leave the market to solve problems of loss of heritage buildings, over-dependence on private cars and inadequate public transport, provision of infrastructure and urban sprawl. A strong partnership between local and central government is essential.

Last but not least, waste is a key area. Landfill proposals and calls for waste minimization have been in the headlines recently. We need to significantly reduce the waste stream, ensure all waste management is based on full cost recovery and to have all existing landfills upgraded or closed. Kyoto Protocol on climate change.


Environment Court

And of course there is the Environment Court. I know there are concerns with the increasing backlog of cases before the Court. I know these delays impose real costs on business, local government and the community.

I am advised that part of the problem is the large number of references or appeals on proposed plans before the Court, although many of these are settled without the need for a full hearing. I also advised that the Court has already taken a number of steps to try and address the problem, including case management, regular callovers of cases and greater use of the lay commissioners.

I am not convinced that further resources and more judges is necessarily the answer. As I mentioned earlier, it may be more use of mediation and less adversarial settlements should be part of the solution. But again, I welcome your views.

Thank you.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

New Reports: Flood Risk From Rain And Sea Under Climate Change

One report looks at what would happen when rivers are flooded by heavy rain and storms, while the other examines flooding exposure in coastal and harbour areas and how that might change with sea-level rise.

Their findings show that across the country almost 700,000 people and 411,516 buildings worth $135 billion are presently exposed to river flooding in the event of extreme weather events...

There is near certainty that the sea will rise 20-30 cm by 2040. By the end of the century, depending on whether global greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, it could rise by between 0.5 to 1.1 m, which could add an additional 116,000 people exposed to extreme coastal storm flooding. More>>

ALSO:

 
 

Gordon Campbell: On The Commerce Commission Fuel Report

The interim Commerce Commission report on the fuel industry will do nothing to endear the major oil companies to the New Zealand public... More>>

ALSO:

Emergency Govt Bill: Overriding Local Licensing For The Rugby

“It’s pretty clear some clubs are having difficulty persuading their district licensing committees to grant a special licence to extend their hours for this obviously special event, and so it makes sense for Parliament to allow clubs to meet a community desire." More>>

ALSO:

Leaving Contract Early: KiwiBuild Programme Losing Another Top Boss

Ms O'Sullivan began a six-month contract as head of KiwiBuild Commercial in February, but the Housing Ministry has confirmed she has resigned and will depart a month early to take up a new job. More>>

ALSO:

Proposed National Policy Statement: Helping Our Cities Grow Up And Out

“We need a new approach to planning that allows our cities to grow up, especially in city centres and around transport connections. We also have to allow cities to expand in a way that protects our special heritage areas, the natural environment and highly productive land." More>>

ALSO:

Ombudsman's Report: Ngāpuhi Elder 'Shocked' By Conditions At Ngawha Prison

A prominent Ngāpuhi elder is shocked to find inmates at Ngawha Prison are denied water and forced to relieve themselves in the exercise yard... Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier has released a report highly critical of conditions at the Northland prison. More>>

ALSO:

Promises: Independent Election Policy Costing Unit A Step Closer

The creation of an entity to provide political parties with independent and non-partisan policy costings is a step closer today, according to Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Associate Finance Minister James Shaw. More>>

ALSO:

School's In: Primary And Intermediate Principals Accept New Offer

Primary and intermediate school principals have voted to accept a new settlement from the Ministry of Education, which includes entrenched pay parity with secondary principals. More>>

ALSO:

IPCA On 'Rawshark' Investigation: Multiple Police Failings In Hager Searches Confirmed

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that the Police's unlawful search of Nicky Hager's property in October 2014 resulted from an unwitting neglect of duty and did not amount to misconduct by any individual officer... More>>

ALSO:

Broadcasting Standards: Decisions On Coverage Of Mosque Attacks

The Authority upheld one of these complaints, finding that the use of extensive excerpts from the alleged attacker’s livestream video on Sky News New Zealand had the potential to cause significant distress to audiences in New Zealand, and particularly to the family and friends of victims, and the wider Muslim community. More>>

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels