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RMA Needs Major Surgery

ACT deputy leader Ken Shirley has welcomed the report of the panel looking at ways to cut red tape to business and fast-track changes to the Resource Management Act.

"The challenge now facing the government is to overturn the report of the Local Government and Environment Select Committee which, under the chairmanship of Greens co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons, reversed all the sensible improvements proposed under the Resource Management Amendment Bill introduced by the previous National government," Mr Shirley said.

"While National did propose some improvements, it took them nine years in government to address this issue and those changes were essentially minor tinkerings that amounted to too little, too late.

"The RMA was intended to streamline the resource consent process by removing overly-prescriptive rules. But instead of carrying us to Nirvana, the process degenerated through the 1990's into a lengthy, cumbersome, nebulous and expensive control framework which has become one of the biggest obstacles to rational resource use and wealth creation in this country today.

"During its development, the RMA process was highjacked by narrow but vociferous interest groups. The result is that consent authorities, including the Environment Court, now have the almost-impossible task of trying to balance social, economic, cultural and ecological considerations.

"Things have been made even worse by the Treaty settlement process, with the RMA being seen as a tool to pursue Treaty claims. All too often the processes are used to extort lavish payments from potential resource users. The Whitianga Waterways fiasco is a classic example.

"The RMA needs major, first-principle surgery and a return to the initial concept of the sustainable management of natural and physical resources. All references to social and cultural matters should be deleted.

"I suspect most in the Labour/Alliance government agree with the retrograde recommendations of the Fitzsimons Committee, and Paul Swain and his advisors will inevitably be defeated," Mr Shirley said.

ENDS


For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.


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