The Green Party in government will begin a Royal Commission of Inquiry into New Zealand’s environmental management and planning laws, including the Resource Management Act (RMA).
Green Party environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage made the announcement in a speech to the Environmental Defence Society in Auckland on Thursday morning.
“The RMA was ground-breaking in its time but since then, more of our birds are closer to extinction, climate and water pollution have increased, and our cities are more clogged with cars. It’s time to do things differently,” said Ms Sage.
“The Green Party has put issues like water quality and climate change firmly on the political agenda, and now we’re committing in government to a ground-up review of the whole way we manage and protect the environment in law.
“A new framework could enshrine a mechanism for legal protection for natural entities like rivers and mountain ranges.
“We are privileged in Aotearoa to have a Te Tiriti o Waitangi relationship and can build systems that respect and uphold tangata whenua kaitiakitanga.
“The principles of sustainability in the RMA are sound, but the way they have been applied has not worked to protect our environment.
“When the laws that were set up to protect the environment cannot stop a new fossil fuel power plant being built or a new coal mine opening on conservation land, those laws are broken.
“And when the laws that govern how we plan our towns and cities have led to sprawling suburbias of unaffordable houses and vast tarmac expanses, when what people want is affordable housing close to where they work, study, and socialise, those laws are broken too.
“Our environment is at a tipping point and the Green Party is the only political party that is 100 percent committed to bring us back from that tipping point,” Ms Sage said.