Resource Legislation Amendment Bill a shambles

National’s much touted changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA) are a shambles and the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill (RLA Bill) should not proceed the Green Party said today.

Parliament’s Local Government and Environment select committee is due to report the Bill back to the House by Tuesday 7 November.

“The Bill significantly increases Ministerial powers to interfere in district and regional plans and limits the public’s ability to comment on RMA plans and resource consents. It is likely to make the RMA and its implementation more complex and litigious and increase costs for councils and users of the Act," Green Party environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage said.

“Ministerial power has also compromised the select committee’s consideration of the Bill.

“Select committees are not here to rubberstamp Ministers’ bills. They're here to make sure new laws work, after robust scrutiny of the Bill and public submissions. Environment Minister, Nick Smith has undermined this process.

The controversial Bill attracted 764 submissions. Businesses, infrastructure operators, environmental organisations and iwi had similar criticisms of new Ministerial regulation making powers and the loss of appeal rights.

Sir Geoffrey Palmer described the Ministerial regulation making as a “constitutional outrage,”  saying “due process is replaced by Executive fiat.” Federated Farmers called the Ministerial powers "excessive” and the provisions which allow central Government to intervene directly in local council plans "heavy handed.”  

The Green Party opposed the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill from the start.

“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.  The Bill has neither. Many of the changes are driven by ideology rather than robust analysis and evidence," said Ms Sage.

“The Bill is not fit for purpose. It increases Ministerial power, will expedite development activities with few environmental safeguards and scant consideration of sustainable management, and will remove basic rights of public participation. It should not proceed.”

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