The announcement of National’s $31 billion infrastructure package by Judith Collins included an important enabler:
. . .Now, for the elephant in the room – the Resource Management Act.
I’m going to say what you’re thinking: How can we possibly deliver all these projects – or even any of them – with the RMA standing so firmly in our way? You’re right to think that. The RMA is New Zealand’s biggest barrier to future development.
Aucklanders, and all New Zealanders, are sick of:
· The diabolical processes and never-ending but insincere consultation.
· The endless cost and delays the RMA gifts to seemingly every development.
· Good projects falling-over in Court.
It has to stop.
Previous Governments have made the mistake of tinkering around the edges with amendment after amendment. It’s all been well-intentioned but it hasn’t worked. Eighteen RMA Amendment Bills have been passed since the RMA was first legislated in 1991. As a result, the RMA is now an 800-page beast, decipherable only by an ever-growing industry of lawyers and consultants.
That’s why I am making a very firm commitment that the National Government I lead will repeal the RMA altogether. It won’t be “reformed” – it will go.
We will replace it with two new pieces of law: an Environment Standards Act, setting our environmental bottom lines; and an Urban Planning and Development Act, giving clarity and consistency. We will begin this work in our first 100 days. We will introduce new legislation by the end of next year.
That process, though, is too slow for the projects I have announced today – and those we will announce in the next few weeks. The RMA fast-track legislation passed in response to Covid-19 provides a useful interim framework. The current Government has restricted its reach to a handful of pet projects. In and of itself, that is a stunning indictment of how the RMA has failed us.
National will make far more extensive use of the fast-track Act. New Zealand is facing an extraordinary jobs and economic crisis; and it demands a proportional response. We simply cannot let the RMA stand in the way of urgently needed infrastructure development. In Auckland and right around the country, we will work with local government to try to make existing RMA procedures more efficient.
But I want to tell you all right now, we will legislate for our projects if necessary. We will be respectful of local government and local stakeholders, most particularly mana whenua, and the likes of NZTA and the Infrastructure Commission.
But if we are chosen to form a Government this September, we will regard ourselves as having a democratic mandate to proceed with the projects I have announced today.
And that is what we shall do. . .
The RMA was well intended but the main beneficiaries from it are bureaucrats, consultants and lawyers.
It is a handbrake on progress and the government has accepted this with its RMA fast-track legislation.
If the Act isn’t fit for purpose now, it isn’t fit for purpose at all.
It’s a handbrake on progress that can’t be fixed by tinkering.
Amendments and attempted reforms have added to its problems.
Repeal and replacement with fit for purpose legislation that will safeguard the environment without the delays, high costs and handbrake on progress that the RMA imposes is the solution.