RMA reform – same old opposition

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.

Leave a comment


  1. TV3 led their coverage of this with a negative comment from the Salvation Army. I was amazed to see a church stepping into such a politically partisan role.

    • Did they offer their opinion or did TV3 seek it?

    • kiwi_guy

       /  22nd January 2015

      The Government wants to devolve a lot of the social housing construction and management to charities and community groups just like the Sallies, so it is only logical they are getting involved in this issue on housing affordability policy.

      Also, criticising one party does not mean you are automatically a devout loyal foot soldier of an opposition party.

  2. artcroft

     /  22nd January 2015

    Either way the Sallies, or at least their spokesperson, claimed the measured demonstrated that National was anti the poor, that this act didn’t address poverty and they (Nats) weren’t interested in helping children. A very unwise statement I thought as it implies that supporting the Sallies means supporting Labour.

  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  22nd January 2015

    Brain-dead crap from John Armstrong in the Herald this morning too.

    • kiwi_guy

       /  22nd January 2015

      Armstrong makes a good argument.

      You know Wilkinson at least put a link through to the article you are referencing and the points in the article you disagree with and why.

      “John Armstrong: We all know the act is not the problem

      Got a problem? Then blame it on the Resource Management Act. When it comes to political whipping boys (or girls), few pieces of legislation get whacked with such alacrity and regularity as the RMA…

      … Smith is using the RMA as a smokescreen. The Auckland housing crisis is really a crisis of insatiable demand. And you do not need to be an economist, Treasury-hired or otherwise, to work that one out.


      I’ve said elsewhere rightwingers have an irrational demonic hatred for the RMA – because of absolute property rights or something.

      John Armstrong rightly points out the rentless demand for housing in Auckland as the main origin of the problem, which brings up the important issue of endless population and economic growth. Even at around 2% annual population growth, the city will have to pack in another half million humans over the next 4 decades or so – that’s the power of exponential growth,something the human race can not get its collective head around as the world population races towards 9, 10, possibly 12+ billion this century.

      I don’t want to see Auckland turning into a Sydney with even more expensive property, suburbs forever, the beautiful surrounding harbour, beach and island landscape degraded, and the city lose what character it has left.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  22nd January 2015

        Ignorant b.s. Obviously you’ve never had to deal with the RMA or building bureaucracy. The problems and costs are everywhere, not just Auckland. As one of the comments on Armstrong’s article notes, ordinary people just refuse to do any more developments under the present system. I took that decision five years ago. Suburbs forever is exactly what the RMA will continue to produce. And huge developments that can afford the costs, delays and bureaucratic crap involved. The only ones that will produce “cheap” homes will be those that can wring a 50% subsidy out of the hapless taxpayer.

  4. Farmerpete

     /  22nd January 2015

    The chair of the Local Govt Assoc, the chair of the property developers assoc, spokesman for the urban renewal working group and Len Brown have all given a tick to the reforms and said they are necessary.
    What really irks me are those shortsighted dipsitcks who equate reform with destruction of the environment. This is an area I have some expertise in. When it takes 18 months for a routine application for subdivison on already zoned land and council increases it’s fees by 220% then there is definitely a problem. In this case this added $18k to the price of each section.
    I would like to see council fees fixed at the time of application and a proper review process to limit all the pointless requests for more superfluous information just so council staff can place the application on hold. You know things are bad when elected officials tell you there is a culture ‘ of looking at why projects can’t go ahead than in eneabling applicants to meet standards.

    • I agree, my only concern is environmental protections, as the perception of National isn’t great in that area. I have a family in building, and subdividing just blows.


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