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Brash's new gaff

18 August 2005

Brash's new gaff bigger than forgetting he plans to sell state assets

It was bad enough when Don Brash forgot he plans to sell state assets but now he's forgotten that Parliament has just fixed the Resource Management Act, says Associate Environment Minister David Benson-Pope.

Mr Benson-Pope was commenting on Dr Brash's announcement today that he would rewrite the RMA, just 15 days after Parliament passed the most significant changes to the Act since it was made law in 1991.

"The Resource Management Amendment Act set out a series of practical improvements to the RMA identified after talking with business, local government, environmental organisations and the broader community over the past year-and-a-half," said David Benson-Pope.

"They told us they supported the principles of the RMA but wanted to see improvement to RMA processes. They wanted the RMA to remain an important environmental safeguard. The RMA Amendment Act was about providing greater certainty and efficiency in the way the RMA operates, while not sacrificing protection for our environment."

The key areas that Labour targeted were: improving the quality and timeliness of local decision making assisting councils, and providing alternative hearing processes, for cross-boundary and very complex consent processes providing New Zealand-wide consistency in planning and environmental standards, to reduce compliance costs and ensure that standards are applied uniformly.

“The legislative changes were just one part of a package of measures reflecting a stronger leadership role for central government in implementing and supporting the Resource Management Act,” said David Benson-Pope.

According to the 2004 Business New Zealand-KPMG Compliance Costs Survey average total environment-related compliance costs have decreased 39.2 per cent between 2003 and 2004. KPMG attributed the reduced costs to 'improved implementation of the RMA by local authorities and increased resources for the Environment Court since 2001'.

"Labour has significantly reduced unnecessary costs and delays in the Environment Court by, for instance, halving the backlog of cases and getting waiting times for hearings down from 18 months to 3-6months since 2001," said Mr Benson-Pope.


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