RMA reform undemocratic: NZTU

‘‘Hands off’’ . . . New Zealand Taxpayers Union executive director Jordan Williams addresses local people at the South Otago Town & Country Club in Balclutha last week. PHOTO: SUPPLIED


About 40 people attended the New Zealand Taxpayer’s Union (NZTU) “Hands Off Our Homes: Stop Central Planning Committees” roadshow in Balclutha last Thursday.

The roadshow opposes the Government’s proposed replacement of the 1991 Resource Management Act (RMA), which NZTU executive-director Jordan Williams called ‘‘Three Waters 2.0’’.

Mr Williams said ‘‘the RMA is a dog’’ but argued its need for reform was being used as an excuse by the Government to take planning and environmental authority away from local bodies and centralise it under an ‘‘undemocratic, co-governance model’’.

Minister for the Environment David Parker said the RMA replacement would result in better environmental outcomes and cheaper, more efficient land development, and summarised the need for RMA replacement in his April 20 speech at the New Zealand Planning Institute Conference.

‘‘The RMA could no longer be fixed by tinkering,’’ he said.

‘‘One of the reasons [it] failed was the lack of central direction on national priorities. Cost benefit analysis . . . shows many hundreds of millions of dollars of savings.’’

At last week’s NZTU roadshow, Mr Williams said the Government was ‘‘borrowing $508 million dollars a week’’ at present and replacing the RMA would mean more red tape and higher building and land-use costs to end users.

‘‘Three Waters was about taking community assets and putting them under the control of co-governance regional entities . . . Now it’s about your property and all the planning rules coming under the control of something called regional planning committees.

‘‘This is the most important issue facing New Zealanders right now but it’s just not being talked about . . . David Parker saw how Three Waters turned into a political stink-bomb and he’s ensured we haven’t had the same sort of national discussion on his Bills to replace the RMA,’’ Mr Williams said.

On Wednesday of last week, Mr Parker offered comments about the Taxpayer’s Union Roadshow.

He said the NZTU’s campaign ‘‘cites the constitutional concern raised by Chief Justice Helen Winkelman about the effect of Treaty provisions on the Environmental Court’’.

‘‘The Government will fix this. This illustrates the Government’s willingness to listen to sensible critiques of the Bill’s provisions.

‘‘However, the Government is committed to the fundamental reform which will be enacted before the election,’’ he said.