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


National creating RMA backdoor

24 July 2005 Media Statement

National creating RMA backdoor so pet projects can proceed unchecked

The National Party seems set to announce the creation of a backdoor in the Resource Management Act that will allow large-scale projects to go ahead without the scrutiny of local communities.

Associate Environment Minister David Benson-Pope says it was reported to him that National's Environment spokesman Nick Smith told a public meeting last week that National would shift the overriding goal of the RMA from the sustainable management of the environment to a development focus.

Mr Benson-Pope says most criticism of National's RMA have already been addressed or are covered within a package of improvements the government has in a Bill before Parliament.

"However, Mr Smith did signal at least one major policy change that will alarm most ordinary New Zealanders," said Mr Benson-Pope. "Mr Smith told the public meeting that National would make meeting a national standard sufficient for getting a consent. If true, National would be creating a free ticket for developers and is signalling an end to proper management of the environment.

"In essence, National's plan would allow a government of the day to specify minimum standards for any development project – pylons, prisons, cell phone towers, or motorways - and there would be nothing any New Zealander could do to stop it being built. So long as a national standard exists, that would give a developer an unstoppable green light to go ahead.

"The implications of such a policy are immense. Conceivably, some future government could even set a minimum standard for nuclear power generation. This policy is the end of community consultation, the end of sound resource management and a nail in the coffin of open and transparent government.

"Dr Brash has been signalling for some time that he wants to do away with community consultation in major projects so he can give free licence to certain favoured projects.

"National's proposal to build at least 10 new prisons will be of great interest to the residents of Tauranga, Nelson and Albany who will get the first three. To build prisons at break-neck speed could only be achieved by bulldozing through legislation and removing a community's ability to have a voice. Can you imagine the alarm in communities the length of this country waking up one morning to find prisons built in their backyard without a whisper of being asked if this was a suitable place to be housing criminals?

"Everyone from business people to environmental groups has acknowledged New Zealand's environment is our greatest asset. This call by the National Party to rip the RMA apart for the sake of development is extreme and unwise.

"No one is complaining at the moment about our level of strong economic growth and unprecedented employment levels under Labour. This has been achieved without riding rough-shod over communities and the clean air, water and soil guaranteed for generations to come.

Mr Benson-Pope says he believes environmental issues could become an important election issue if National goes ahead with this plan.

"New Zealanders are proud of our clean and green image. While processes that weigh up the costs and benefits of development sometimes get criticised surveys consistently show that Kiwis expect sound environmental decision-making. The National party plan doesn't just tilt the playing field in the favour of large-scale developments, it effectively knee-caps any opponents."

Mr Benson-Pope says other areas of the RMA signalled as important by the National Party were already being addressed by the government. These included:
- Speeding up processes;
- Reducing cost; and
- Limiting vexatious applicants.

"The Resource Management Act was introduced by National in the first place and since then we have spent a lot of effort making it work.

"The National Party continues to talk about reducing the complexity of plans but this appears to be code for reducing the involvement of communities in setting environmental standards appropriate to their area.

"This approach by National is understandable because they have a proven track record of being unable to work with local government. Previously they advocated privatising the roading system, and their electricity reform remains a daily reminder of their incompetence.

"As a government we've placed an emphasis on working with local government and our RMA amendment Bill currently before Parliament focuses on providing councils with the skills and resources they need to improve RMA processes.

"In the Bill we have identified a series of timely, sensible and well thought out improvements to the working of the RMA. We will not be watering down the RMA's ability to protect the environment or sacrificing local decision-making and public participation."


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines


Also, Loan Interest: Productivity Commission On Tertiary Education

Key recommendations include better quality control; making it easier for students to transfer between courses; abolishing University Entrance; enabling tertiary institutions to own and control their assets; making it easier for new providers to enter the system; and facilitating more and faster innovation by tertiary education providers... More>>


Higher Payments: Wellington Regional Council Becomes A Living Wage Employer

Councillor Sue Kedgley said she was delighted that the Wellington Regional Council unanimously adopted her motion to become a Living Wage employer, making it the first regional council in New Zealand to do so. More>>


Scoop Images:
Dame Patsy Reddy Sworn In As Governor-General

This morning Dame Patsy Reddy was sworn in as the New Zealand Realm’s 21st Governor-General. The ceremony began with a pōwhiri to welcome Dame Patsy and her husband Sir David Gascoigne to Parliament. More>>


Ruataniwha: DOC, Hawke's Bay Council Developer Take Supreme Court Appeal

The Department of Conservation and Hawke's Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC) are appealing to the Supreme Court over a conservation land swap which the Court of Appeal halted. More>>


With NZ's Marama Davidson: Women’s Flotilla Leaves Sicily – Heading For Gaza

Women representing 13 countries spanning five continents began their journey yesterday on Zaytouna-Oliva to the shores of Gaza, which has been under blockade since 2007. On board are a Nobel Peace Laureate, three parliamentarians, a decorated US diplomat, journalists, an Olympic athlete, and a physician. A list of the women with their background can be found here. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Key Style Of Crisis Management

At Monday’s post Cabinet press conference Key was in his finest wide- eyed “Problem? What problem?” mode. No, there wasn’t really a problem that top MPI officials had been at odds with each other over the meaning of the fisheries policy and how that policy should be pursued... More>>


Mt Roskill: Greens Will Not Stand In Likely Post-Goff By-Election

“The Green Party’s priority is changing the Government in 2017, and as part of that we’ve decided that we won’t stand a candidate in the probable Mt Roskill by-election... This decision shows the Memorandum of Understanding between Labour and the Green Party is working." More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news