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Massive Labour U-turns on RMA

Hon Nick Smith
National Party Environment Spokesman
20 June 2005

Massive Labour U-turns on RMA

Labour has become so desperate and vulnerable over problems with the Resource Management Act that it has had to do massive U-turns to try to stop the political tide going out on them, says National's Environment spokesman, Nick Smith.

He is commenting on the tabling today of a select committee report on the Resource Management and Electricity Legislation Bill.

"It is extraordinary that Labour is now supporting direct referral of major projects to the Environment Court. This important change was proposed in a bill by National in 1999 but dismissed by Labour as 'evil' and 'dangerous'. Even last year, Marion Hobbs and David Benson-Pope both specifically rejected direct referral, saying it would lead to 'unsustainable development'," says Dr Smith.

"Labour's last-minute adoption of direct referral is an admission that it has been wrong for five years. It must now accept responsibility for the delays this error has caused in the building of new power stations and roading infrastructure, and the contribution this has made to traffic congestion and increased power prices.

"Labour's U-turn on removing de novo hearings in the Environment Court is equally extraordinary. This was the flagship of David Benson-Pope's reform bill, and in February he dismissed widespread concerns that it would drive up costs and increase delays. It is amazing how a bad poll can help change a Minister's mind.

"The question now left open is that if Labour has got it so wrong on these two fundamental policy issues, how can it be sure that the rest of its RMA policies are correct?

"The RMA needs far more than the tinkering left in Mr Benson-Pope's Amendment Bill. The only way the public can be sure of substantive reform will be with a change of government," says Dr Smith.

National will introduce a substantive amendment bill within three months of becoming government, and pass it into law within nine months.


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