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Government u-turn on RMA victory for opposition

Government u-turn on RMA victory for opposition

"National is delighted that the Government has capitulated over amendments to the Resource Management Act that would have protected ancestral and cultural landscapes, and increased the uncertainty and risks of corruption for new developments," says National's environment spokesperson Nick Smith.

"National has been arguing for months that the provisions were flawed and only got the backing of United Future at the last hurdle. Labour MPs voted for these provisions at the first select committee in 1991, again at the second select committee this year. The Minister was defending these provisions in question time on Tuesday.

"When National Leader Bill English criticised the provisions yesterday afternoon the Minister was still defending them, only to vote against them an hour later. This remarkable last-minute u-turn is the first major defeat for the Government on a substantive policy issue.

"The United Future Party deserves credit for joining National, ACT and New Zealand First in forcing the Government to change tack. This defeat marks a significant change in the balance of power in Parliament. It shows the centre-right is capable of working together and defeating Labour.

United Future has far more in common with National, ACT and New Zealand First than with Labour and the Greens. The next target for the centre-right will be defeating the Government's plan to abolish New Zealanders right of appeal to the Privy Council.

"This change to the Resource Management Act No.2 removes it's most offensive provisions, but there is still much wrong with the Bill. The provisions to confuse regional and local council responsibility on indigenous biodiversity, removing the Court's power to award security of costs, remove permitted baselines and having National Environmental Standards override existing consents will add uncertainty and costs. The biggest disappointment is that the Bill is a lost opportunity to make substantial improvements to the Act.

"This is a victory for democracy and a credit to the National, New Zealand First and ACT rebel select committee that provided the platform to highlight the foolishness of these provisions," said Dr Smith.

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