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'Tune-Up', RMA Still Needs Work

16 September 2004

'Tune-Up', RMA Still Needs Work

The Resource Management Act (RMA) is still seriously flawed after the government's once-over-lightly 'tune-up', said John Aspinall, a National Board member of Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc).

The package of measures announced yesterday to allegedly improve the working of the RMA has done nothing to fix fundamental flaws in the act.

"Farmers were looking for a comprehensive review of the RMA, and we are disappointed to find that councils and government agencies will continue to be able to force landowners to carry huge costs for the wider public benefit.

"After six years of reviews, successive governments still refuse to look at the fundamental problem: requiring landowners to meet the costs of protecting landscape, and conserving areas of native vegetation and heritage sites for the public benefit, without financial support or compensation," Mr Aspinall said.

"The RMA should be about sustainability. Farm business cannot continue to be sustainable if required to meet dreams and schemes promoted in the 'national interest' without compensation."

When the government announced the review in May, it said it would "tune up" the RMA.

"But it needed more than a tune-up. As I said when the review was announced in May, the RMA is the legislative equivalent of an East German Trabant. Give it a tune-up, and you still have a Trabant.

"However, there are improvements such as government plans to clarify the role of iwi in the RMA process. I also welcome the introduction of training and accreditation for RMA decision-makers, which could lift the quality of some of those who struggle to understand the intricacies of planning law," Mr Aspinall said.


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