Nick Smith says National is reviewing the most contentious parts of it’s last (failed) attempt at RMA reform and stated “National’s “preference” to build support beyond a bare majority” but “made it clear that the party was prepared to do so with just the support of the single MP of the Act Party”.
National pushes on with Resource Management Act reform is a bit contradictory.
After failing to gain the support it needed to pass changes proposed in 2012 during the last term, today National signalled that it could use its stellar election result to proceed – with little change.
Although Environment Minister Nick Smith said it was National’s “preference” to build support beyond a bare majority, the MP for Nelson made it clear that the party was prepared to do so with just the support of the single MP of the Act Party, which has long objected to what it considers to be an anti-development bias in the environmental legislation.
“Our first duty is make changes to the RMA that make the act work better for New Zealand. If we can’t get the support of the Maori Party and the United Future Party to be able to advance the reforms, then we will still be progressing with the support of the ACT Party,” Smith said.
Smith signalled that National was reviewing the most contentious of its proposed reforms of the RMA, covering changes to the act’s principles – a move critics have argued would aid development – but otherwise the tone of today’s speech was consistent with the last term.
“It’s consistent with the direction that was set in 2012, but there’s still a lot of detail in the amendments to deliver the overall package of reform,” Smith said.
He expected “intense discussion” over some of the “hundreds” of amendments to the existing legislation.
Not surprisingly the ‘Opposition” opposes it, for now at least.
Labour leader Andrew Little…
…said the changes would do nothing to cut the price of building or increase the supply of affordable homes.
“National has spent six years claiming they will change the RMA to make housing more affordable but have yet to produce any tangible solutions. Nick Smith’s proposals are underwhelming and show the Government is out of ideas.
“It is critical that changes to benefit housing are not used as a smokescreen to undermine the environmental protection standards.”.
NZ First leader Winston Peters…
…said if the government was to curb rising house prices it needed to deal with speculation, immigration and a lack of construction.
“The minister’s planned changes to the RMA to address housing affordability do nothing of the sort, they are just a sop to developers. He is blaming the RMA for a high price of Kiwi homes, the lack of supply and making speculators rich as a red herring to National’s complete failure.”
The Green Party…
…said the changes would not build more homes.
“The Government has the ability to build affordable homes and address the housing crisis now but it is simply not doing it. New Zealand needs a major state home building programme, to meet the need for new homes and drive down high prices,” Green Party RMA spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said.
But the mayor of the major housing problem area approves.
The reforms would streamline “complex” processes for house-strapped Auckland, Mayor Len Brown says.
Brown said Auckland Council had been working closely with the government to find a solution to Auckland’s housing crises.
“From Auckland Council’s perspective, there is considerable scope to improve the RMA,” he said.
“In particular streamlining the complex processes councils are required to work within, reducing duplication and providing more affordable housing.
“I particularly welcome recognition of the needs of cities and urban areas, including housing and infrastructure, which the current legislation doesn’t cover well.
Wider support will depend on what changes National are prepared to make.
Radio NZ reports Smith’s RMA speech strident, says Dunne - Dunne has appeared to be peeved that so far he has been left out of the loop and doesn’t know if he will support changes or not.
He said he had thought the Government was moving down a more pragmatic path, but he was not so sure.
“I just don’t quite know what the intended strategy is here. This speech just leaves you wondering frankly.”
Mr Dunne said the speech was short on detail, so he was still no closer to knowing whether he could support any changes.
Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell…
…said he still believed the Government was willing to compromise, even though it no longer needed their support.
“There’s a lot of water to go under the bridge yet, these things are by negotiation and I detect certainly a desire to work with us.
The detail and the debate is yet to come so it’s too early to tell how thios reform will be dealt with.