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Labour’s RMA Reforms Falling Apart

Labour’s RMA reforms are in tatters following submitter after submitter to the Environment Committee saying the Bills will make it even hard to get things done, National’s RMA Reform & Urban Development spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“Minister David Parker trumpeted his two new Bills before Christmas as fundamental reform of our planning laws that would make things happen faster, cheaper and better – but submitter after submitter has pointed out the Bills will make things worse, not better.

“There is widespread consensus that the RMA is broken but to be successful, Labour’s changes have to actually result in improvements, particularly given the enormous cost of change in time, money, and energy. So far, National remains entirely unconvinced the Bills are the transformational change that is required.

“To give but one example – the Wind Energy Association submitted last week that the reforms will make it more difficult to build a wind farm. That is the exact opposite outcome of what nearly everyone says New Zealand needs.

“Many of those who have spoken at the select committee have said the 800-page reforms are incredibly complex and they create more bureaucracy not less – including new committees that will sit above existing local authorities resulting in the loss of local democracy and local voices.

“Submitters have also said there is a lack of clarity and certainty in the draft Bills and entirely new legal terms that will increase complexity and decrease predictability. The inevitable result of new terms like ‘Te Oranga o te Taiao’ will be years of expensive litigation.

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“The reforms provide a long list of outcomes -– involving everything from the ecological integrity of air and water, natural landscapes, climate change, housing, primary production, customary rights, heritage, infrastructure, the coastal environment, and more – but there is no hierarchy at all to decide trade-offs, therefore the Bill effectively demands all of these outcomes all of the time.

“After five years of work it is frustrating Labour has produced a package that will do the opposite of what it says it will do. National is reserving its position on the reforms but there is a strong case that the Government should seriously consider going back to the drawing board.”

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