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National Government abusing process to push through changes to the RMA

The National Government has abused the parliamentary process to push through changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA) that will increase ministers’ power and stop the public from having a say, the Green Party said today.

The Government has today announced that it has made a deal with the Māori Party to get the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill through its second and third readings, which will make sweeping changes to the RMA.

“Changes to the RMA will give more power to Nick Smith, and take power away from New Zealanders who want to have their say on matters that will affect their own backyards,” said Green Party environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage.

“Pushing through these changes will leave our environment vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

“The Government is using the Select Committee as a rubber stamp to push these changes through, failing to allow it to properly consider the legislation, which is an abuse of power.

“Government members on the Local Government and Environment Select Committee blocked the Select Committee reporting back to Parliament, so the Bill came back into the House on Tuesday without a Select Committee report and without minority reports by the Green and Labour parties stating their opposition to the Bill.

“The RMA is a crucial foundation of New Zealand’s environmental law and planning system. Changes to it should be based on sound analysis and evidence and have broad cross party support so that they are enduring. This Bill has neither. Many of the changes appear driven by ideology rather than robust analysis and evidence.  

“Submitters including Fonterra and Forest and Bird told the Select Committee about their concerns with the Bill, which include a major increase in the Minister’s powers, restrictions on public input and the loss of appeal rights to the Environment Court. 

“The Select Committee never got to deliberate on these changes because the Minister delayed Government officials from reporting back to select committee for five months while he did a closed door deal with the Māori Party to give it the numbers,” said Ms Sage.

The Green Party’s minority report, which details our opposition to the Bill, can be found here