No cost analysis, no consultation, no idea on oil and gas ban

Minister of Energy Megan Woods has said she isn’t aware of any cost-benefit analysis before the decision to ban future oil and gas exploration permits, no formal consultation was undertaken with the Petroloeum Exploration Association, and the impact on the price of gas was not considered.

And alarmingly, no estimates were made on whether global greenhouse gas emissions will fall as a result of the decision.

Newshub: Government did no cost-benefit analysis on oil and gas ban

The decision to ban future oil and gas exploration was made without a cost benefit analysis to back it up, Newshub can reveal.

It’s one of a number of admissions revealed in parliamentary written questions pointing to a lack of evidence behind the decision.

“I am not aware of a cost-benefit analysis using the Treasury’s CBAx tool being undertaken in relation to the decision to grant no further offshore oil and gas exploration permits,” Megan Woods said.

Dr Woods’ office told Newshub officials did not think it was appropriate to use the Treasury tool in this case as there were too many unknowns about how much gas and oil was actually out there.

“Searching for petroleum offshore is a low probability of success event but high impact if found, so trying to model the costs and benefits in a traditional option analysis spreadsheet would have required substantial assumptions to be made,” a spokesperson for the minister said.

So they just decided to do it regardless of possible costs and effects.

The Energy Minister has also admitted no formal consultation with the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand (PEPANZ) took place.

“No formal consultation was undertaken with PEPANZ in relation to the decision to grant no further offshore oil and gas exploration permits. However, I have spoken publicly about the Government’s direction to transition away from fossil fuels and my office has had open dialogue with PEPANZ before this announcement.”

Woods has just been to meet producers in New Plymouth this week.

“No specific estimate has been provided to me on the price impact on gas of the decision to grant no further offshore oil and gas exploration permits. Officials have advised that gas prices have risen in the past when the supply of gas has been constrained,” Dr Woods said.

No concerns about adverse effects of the decision.

There’s also been no estimates on whether global greenhouse gas emissions will fall as a result of the decision.

“No specific estimate has been provided to me. I have been advised by officials that the effect on global emissions depends on the response of New Zealand’s large gas users.”

And it seems that there was little or no interest in whether the ban would be effective or not.

It looks like this is a rushed ideological decision rather than evidence based.

And it looks negligent.

Ministers differ on banning coal

Megan Woods, the Minister of Energy and Resources, interviewed on Q&A this morning and was asked about the future use of oil and gas, and coal.

She gave an assurance they (the Government) “we have done no work on banning coal” and “there are no plans to do that”.

CORIN Where does coal sit in this? Will you ban future exploration of coal?

MEGAN Look, this isn’t a decision about coal; this is about block offers. And this is about offshore oil and gas.

CORIN This is important, though, because you need that coal, as we mentioned earlier, in terms of electricity supply in the event of a dry year. And the papers that were given in terms of the Greens’ questioning during the coalition was that if we didn’t have any more, if you stopped coal exploration, you’re talking 2028, there’d be no more coal.

MEGAN Look, one of the things that we are seeing, Huntly is transitioning to a gas peaking plant, away from using coal. Gas is about half the emissions of coal. But it still is half the emissions, so we’ve always said it’s part of the transition, gas. But I think one of the things that we need to be really clear on, that a transition is not status quo. The status quo is doing nothing, burying our heads in the sand and not having the long-term future-proofing plans for the economy. So we are absolutely accepting that gas will be used as part of that peaking.

CORIN I don’t mean to be rude – I just need an answer on coal. Is there a future for more exploration of coal?

MEGAN Oh, look, we have made no announcements about ending coal, and we certainly haven’t done any work.

CORIN Are you ruling out that you won’t ban coal exploration?

MEGAN Oh, we have done no work on banning coal.

MEGAN No, I’m not saying it’s a possibility at all. What I’m saying is there are no plans to do that. We haven’t done anything.

But this has been questioned: ‘Incredulous’ for Energy Minister to say no work on coal ban been done – National MP

Energy Minister Megan Woods says there’s been no work, plans or announcements around banning coal exploration yet Climate Change Minister James Shaw has signed New Zealand up to phasing out coal by 2030.

In November shortly after the Labour/NZ First/Greens government was formed, Shaw headed to Germany where he told the COP23 conference that New Zealand intends to become a leader in the global fight against climate change.

While there he signed New Zealand up to the international “Powering Past Coal” alliance, which is committed to phasing out the use of coal for electricity generation.

At COP23 Shaw said, “we know that the future of our electricity system is in renewables, not coal, so I was delighted we could recognise that formally at this important international meeting”.

NZH: Shaw to UN conference: NZ now a leader in climate change

At COP23, New Zealand has also signed up to the Powering Past Coal alliance, which is committed to phasing out the use of coal for electricity generation by 2030.

Shaw told the Herald New Zealand’s only coal-burning generators at Huntly are to be decommissioned by 2025.

“But symbolically it is really important, and the more countries that get in on it, the better.”

Newsroom: Our Inconvenient Truth: NZ will keep burning coal

Green party leader and Climate Change Minister James Shaw was unconcerned by the announcement when interviewed before question time on Wednesday.

“We want to get out of fossil fuels by 2035. I think the Genesis announcement is consistent with that,” he said.

He hoped that technological advances would help Genesis get out of fossil fuels before 2030.

Full interview: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1804/S00238/qa-megan-woods-interviewed-by-corin-dann.htm

Labour-Green oil and gas naivety questioned

The Government announcement last that no more off shore oil and gas exploration permits would be granted was celebrated by the Greens and their allies (like Greenpeace), but it hasn’t received wide support. Questions are being asked of the possible negative effects, and the lack of planning or substance on the transition from fossil fuels to alternative forms of energy.

Listener: Is the Govt’s ban on new oil and gas exploration brave or naive?

Just transition or heart over head?

The decision to stop issuing offshore oil and gas exploration permits was not pre-election policy. Although Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was musing privately months ago about the politics of such a move, it is barely a month since she broke from her formal programme to accept a petition from Greenpeace on the forecourt of Parliament.

Always with an eye to powerful imagery, Greenpeace backed the moment with pictures of history-changing Labour leaders of the past: Savage, Kirk, Lange and Clark. Ardern could enter that pantheon with a huge symbolic gesture designed to make real her claim that climate change is “this generation’s nuclear-free moment”.

She has done so, in a move that is at once measured and justifiable yet also naive and arguably cavalier with a major industry. No other country with a significant oil and gas industry has made such a decision.

…the naivety of the Government’s new policy is that it will not, of itself, reduce global carbon emissions, but could increase New Zealand’s if it leads to more coal use in the meantime.

It is disingenuous to claim that existing permits might sustain a healthy oil and gas sector until the 2040s. The fruitless hunt for major gas fields in the Great South Basin since the 1960s proves the point that exploration is expensive and usually unsuccessful.

But perhaps the biggest risk is the promise of a Government-led “transition” to new industries of the future. Airy ministerial talk of capital being redeployed to new activities is a carbon copy of Rogernomics-era rhetoric. Capital was redeployed, but not necessarily in New Zealand.

The Government is talking a big game on its ability to direct the emergence of such new industries, but its capacity to deliver this upside of transformative change is untested and the value of the industries it is disrupting is all too measurable.

While radical change was necessary then ‘Rogernomics’ was executed hurriedly with more hope or desperation than planning.

Tim Watkin takes the similarity with Rogernomics style reform-and-hope policies, as opposed to David Lange’s ‘anti-nuclear moment’ – Oil be alright. But has Labour learnt the wrong lesson from its past?

Jacinda Ardern has drawn on our national pride in New Zealand’s nuclear-free stance to rally support for her decision to end offshore oil drilling. But her announcement has echoes of Douglas and Prebble as much as Lange and Palmer

When Jacinda Ardern was asked to justify her government’s decision to stop issuing oil drilling permits forthwith she drew on a memory that sits deep in her party’s – and our country’s – soul. Our nuclear-free status. The decision for me, however, recalls another controversial move by that same fourth Labour government.

For Ardern and her team, so long out of government, it is a chance to do the sort of thing they expect Labour government’s to do. The moral thing. Policies that show vision and make the world a better place. What’s more, it shows leadership in the Pacific.

As with our nuclear-free policy, the decision to leave the oil where it is gives New Zealand the moral high ground, a sense of mission and it gets us noticed. It’s also similar in that it will also do next to nothing in the short term to change global behaviour or make the world safer.

Our nuclear-free stance has been largely symbolic, as will this stance be, unless or until the rest of the world follows suit.

Like Rogernomics, last week’s decision was announced with no real consultation and ruthless speed. There was no time for opponents to circle the tankers. Like Rogernomics, it moved Labour away from the safe centre and took it to the edge of mainstream politics. And like Rogernomics, they have shown no sign that they have planned for the consequences – forseeon or unforseen – of this policy.

Talk to members of the fourth Labour government today and few resile from the thrust of the economic reforms, but almost all wish they had done it differently. More slowly, with transition funding and re-training upfront. With more consultation. More commitment to not leaving some people on the scrapheap.

Sadly, there’s no sign this government has heeded that lesson. Not yet anyway. The announcement came with the zeal of the nuclear-free dream, but without the legwork. There was no transition fund announced. No plan to find new purposes for the people and their skills. No three year grace period, for example, in which the country’s fourth largest export-earning industry could start on what Greens co-leader James Shaw has promised will be a “gentle transition”.

One could forgive Shaw and the Greens for being naive, given their lack of experience in power. The same could be applied to Ardern – but as Prime Minister she should be better advised. She seems to have believed her lofty hype over leading a generational change on climate change.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the new Government was woefully unprepared for taking over. They have taken some quick and bold moves – like committing to major spending (handouts) for fee-free tertiary education – and leading the charge against climate change without any sign they know where this will take New Zealand economically.

But by embarking on this in a sudden, even sneaky, way and without a considered and consulted transition plan, it’s undermined the ‘what’ by buggering up the ‘how’. Labour has failed to learn from its own history. Or, at least, the part of its history Ardern says inspired this bold move. The question now is whether the government moves rapidly and with proper thought to live up to its promise of that “gentle transition”.

There is time for getting it right, or at least better and less risky, but there is no sign of this being recognised by the Government.

Another unlikely critic is Brian Fallow: Exploration ban a pointless, self-righteous policy

Resounding cheers greeted Jacinda Ardern and James Shaw when they went to Victoria University last Thursday to explain that morning’s announcement that no more offshore oil and gas exploration permits will be granted.

Gratifying to their ears, no doubt — but entirely undeserved.

This policy is self-righteous nimbyism, environmentally pointless, economically costly and politically counter-productive to the Government’s own agenda on climate change.

Tossing a trophy to the Green Party base, perhaps in the hope of reducing the risk that the Green vote gets wasted in 2020, smacks of ad hoc partisan politics as usual.

It is utterly at odds with the careful, consultative, consensus-seeking approach being pursued over the larger climate agenda.

James Shaw has set up a committee (according to National the 75th committee/group of this Government) to consult over climate change transition but as pointed out in Climate Change Committee announced, significant omissions this notably lacks direct representation from the key farmer and oil & gas industries.

Is there anyone in Labour capable of doing the hard work necessary to make such a transformative  policy work successfully without too many risks and adverse effects?

With Shaw in charge of the Climate Change ministry the only Labour MP (apart from Ardern) with related responsibilities is Megan Woods as Minister of Energy and Resources, and Minister of Science and Innovation, things that will be (or should be) a prominent part of the climate change/fossil fuel transition.

Labour slow to restore Canterbury democracy

After slamming the last Government’s sacking of the Canterbury regional council ECan, and of promising to quickly restore democracy, Labour is now in no hurry to act.

Christchurch Labour MP Megan Woods in 2016: ECan legislation an affront to democracy

The Government’s ECan Legislation is an affront to Cantabrians and continues to deny them a democratically elected regional council, says Labour’s Canterbury Spokesperson Megan Woods.

“There is simply no logical, rational or compelling case for a system of regional government in Canterbury that is anti-democratic and radically different from other parts of the country.

“This is not the return to democracy we were promised. This is a continuation of government control.

“It has been six years since the Government sacked the regional council. It is time to put regional governance back where it belongs. That regional governnment has to be in the hands of Cantabrians. There is no justification for controlling Canterbury through appointments made in Wellington.

“I have a Private Members Bill in the ballot to return to a fully elected council at this year’s elections. That Bill stays in the ballot because Labour backs Cantabrians to run their own region,” says Megan Woods.

Labour’s policy on Canterbury (August 2017): Unlocking Potential – Labour’s Plan for Canterbury

Our plan has eight crucial components, each demonstrating Labour’s commitment to get the region moving – and thriving.

Labour will:

  • Restore full democracy to Environment Canterbury

Stuff (November 2017): ECan elections unlikely before 2019

A return to democracy at Environment Canterbury (ECan) appears unlikely before 2019, despite Labour’s long-standing objection to the status quo.

The last Government removed democratically-elected councillors in 2009 and replaced them with seven commissioners the following year.

One of the sacked councillors, Eugenie Sage, is now Minister of Conservation.

Despite promises by former Environment Minister Nick Smith to restore democracy in 2013, it was pushed to 2016. A full return to democracy was delayed again until 2019 – half the current council is elected and half appointed.

During the election campaign, Labour said full elections would be restored “as soon as possible,” but it is understood that is unlikely to happen before 2019, when elections were expected anyway.

Newsroom (today): Labour’s big miss in Canterbury

The Labour-led Government has failed a crucial test in Canterbury.

Despite making an election issue out of a return to full democracy at Canterbury’s regional council, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has confirmed to Newsroom it will follow the last Government’s timetable of waiting until next year’s scheduled local body elections.

That’s little payback for a surge of support for Labour in Christchurch at last year’s election. The decision not to call early elections will disappoint many – including Mahuta’s ministerial colleague Eugenie Sage, who was one of 14 councillors sacked by the National-led Government in 2010, mainly over claims it was mismanaging water.

Labour’s go-slow on Canterbury democracy even leaves it open to a swipe from ex-Environment Minister Nick Smith, who made the National-led Government’s decision, jointly with then Local Government Minister Rodney Hide, to sack councillors at Environment Canterbury (ECan).

Smith, a fading flower in National, says Labour “screamed from the rooftops” in opposition and if it believed the strength of its rhetoric it would have moved to restore a fully elected council. “I think they know, as I did, that a sensible transition through this term of council and full elections in 2019 is actually the right thing for Canterbury.”

After this length of time without an elected regional council it makes sense to restore a democratic body during the Local Body elections next year, but Labour have failed to fulfil their promise. At least they haven’t set up an inquiry on this.

Climate debate

ndrew BaileyWWF has organised an election climate debate, starting tonight at 7 pm.

We know it’s 100% possible to unlock a safe climate future for all New Zealanders. Climate action is bigger than politics – but it’s election season right now. Will political parties come together to set a course for a 100% renewable energy, zero carbon future? Or will climate action remain a political football?

WWF-New Zealand’s Climate Debate is your chance to find out.

  • What: This election’s big climate debate.
  • When7pm on 19 September

Brought to you in partnership with Oxfam New Zealand and Fossil Free University of Auckland, the Debate is your chance to learn about the parties’ climate policies – and ask your political representatives the questions that matter to you. We already have an exciting mixture of speakers from almost all of New Zealand’s key political parties coming along, just days before the election.

Business journalist Rod Oram will be your MC on the night,asking all the candidates the questions that matter for Aotearoa’s climate future.

Taking part:

  • Megan Woods (Labour),
  • James Shaw (Greens),
  • Carrie Stoddart-Smith (Māori Party),
  • Denis O’Rourke (NZ First),
  • Damien Light (United Future),
  • Teresa Moore (TOP)
  • Andrew Bailey (National)

Youtube was hopeless, but Facebook is working.

Labour backing RMA bill for now

Recently National introduced a Resource Management reform bill that would leave environmental protections at the insistence of the Maori Party and Peter Dunne. Dunne was involved in writing the original Resource Management Act.

Initially two Labour spokespeople voiced some concerns, but a third has now said that Labour will support the reform bill to committee stage at least.

But what should be a positive for Labour has been laced with negativity.

Megan Woods: RMA changes must protect the environment

RMA changes must protect the environment

A Government bill to reform the RMA must not be used as a chance to tinker with its key role of protecting the environment, says Labour’s Environmental spokesperson Megan Woods.

“We will have to look at the proposed changes carefully as there are 200 pages in this Bill. We will be watching to make sure there is a decent chance for people to have their say through the select committee stage over what will clearly be a complex piece of legislation.

“The RMA is New Zealand’s core environmental protection and those protections must remain. That is our bottom line.

“Our offer to work together on sensible reforms is still on the table. This offer stands.

“We will be concerned at any changes around appeals to the Environment Court or any undermining of case law around the environment.

“We will be looking to see if the Bill elevates private property rights above wider community interests.

“This new Bill must meet these environmental bottom lines. We will be looking carefully at the Government’s intentions,” says Megan Woods.

: RMA changes skim surface for Maori participation

Protecting the environment and getting the right balance for sustainable development will be a core test of the proposed RMA changes, says Labour’s Maori Development spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta.

David Parker: Labour will back RMA changes at first reading

Labour will back changes to the Resource Management Act because it is a step in the right direction, Labour’s Environmental spokesperson David Parker says.

“We have always said we would support sensible process improvements to the RMA. We are pleased National lost the battle to undermine the core environmental protections in the Act.

“These process changes are modest and will do little to fix the causes of the housing crisis. But they will have some positive impacts around the margins.

“For that reason Labour will support this Bill to select committee.

“This legislation is no magic solution. It is an abject surrender by National because – after years of blaming the RMA for out-of-control housing prices – they know gutting the Act is not the solution.

“Labour has offered to work with Nick Smith to come up with meaningful changes but he has repeatedly refused to do so,” David Parker says

So Labour will vote for the bill to be introduced, which is positive.

But Parker chose to lace what should have been a good news story with political vitriol. So even on overdue RMA reform the impression is left of a negative Labour Party.

Parker replaced Woods as Labour’s Environmental spokesperson in Monday’s reshuffle.

Proposed RMA reforms

The National Government have wanted to make significant changes to the Resource Management Act, in part to streamline and speed up RMA applications for developments.

In particular they want to make it easier to make land for subdivisions more readily available in Auckland and other parts of New Zealand where there are housing shortages and rampant proprty inflation.

At the beginning of their third term National had two problems, United Future leader Peter Dunne and National MP Mike Sabin.

Because of their slim majority in Parliament National needed Dunne’s vote and Dunne didn’t want to budge on core environmental protections in the RMA. Then Sabin suddenly resigned, just after the election. And then National lost Sabin’s Northland electorate in a by election, cutting their majority by one.

So now National had two problems – Peter Dunne still, and also the Maori Party because National need both  their votes plus Dunne’s to pass RMA reform. And the Maori Party have also insisted on retaining the core environmental protections that are a feature of the RMA.

I think it is important, like Dunne and the Maori Party, to retain strong environmental protections in the RMA, and reform the Act’s processes to speed things up, and to standardise more across the country.

National have had to put their pragmatism hats on and have negotiated with the Maori Party to get a promise of their vote to get the RMA amendment bill at least to the committee stages.

The Goverment’s announcement Resource legislation introduced to Parliament:

The Government introduced to Parliament today its substantive Bill overhauling the Resource Management Act (RMA) to support business growth and housing development while also ensuring more effective environmental management, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith has announced.

“This Bill is about reducing the bureaucracy that gets in the way of creating jobs, building houses, and good environmental management. It provides for greater national consistency, more responsive planning, simplified consenting and better alignment with other laws,” Dr Smith says.

The 180-page Resource Legislation Amendment Bill comprises 40 changes contained in 235 clauses and eight schedules. It makes changes to the Resource Management Act 1991, the Reserves Act 1977, the Public Works Act 1981, the Conservation Act 1987, the Environmental Protection Authority Act 2011, and the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012.

“The Bill addresses the significant problems with the cumbersome planning processes of the Resource Management Act highlighted in recent reports by the OECD, Local Government New Zealand, the Rules Reduction Taskforce and the Productivity Commission. Standard planning templates will be introduced so we don’t have every council reinventing the wheel and having dozens of different ways of measuring the height of a building. Plan-making, which currently take six years, will be sped up and made more flexible. A new collaborative planning process will encourage different interests to work with councils on finding solutions to local resource problems,” Dr Smith says.

“The Bill simplifies the consenting process. It narrows the parties that must be consulted to those directly affected – meaning a homeowner extending a deck only has to consult the affected neighbour. Councils will have discretion to not require resource consent for minor issues. A new 10-day fast-track consent will be available for simple issues. Councils will be required to have fixed fees for standard consents so that homeowners have certainty over costs. Consents will no longer be required for activities that are already properly regulated by other Acts. These measures will reduce the number of consents required each year by thousands.

“This Bill will deliver improved environmental management. It will enable national regulations that require stock like dairy cows to be fenced out of rivers and lakes, with instant fines for breaches. It strengthens the requirements for managing natural hazards like earthquakes and sea level rise from climate change. It requires decommissioning plans for offshore oil and gas rigs. It will improve the transparency of New Zealand’s clean, green brand by ensuring consistency in council environmental reporting on issues like air and water quality.

“The Bill contains dozens of provisions that will improve the process of resource management decisions. There will be millions of dollars in savings from simpler, plain language public notices that enable the detailed information on plans and consents to be accessed on the web. The Bill recognises email communications and online filing. It also encourages early dispute resolution on cases appealed to the Environment Court.”

The introduction of this Bill has the support of the Māori Party after intensive discussions over several months. Some reform proposals, including changes to sections six and seven, are not in the Bill. The proposals consulted on publicly in 2013 on improved Māori participation in resource management have been included in response to the Māori Party’s strong advocacy. Discussions between the National and Māori Parties will continue in response to public submissions and debate as the Bill progresses through Parliament. National will also be seeking the support of other parties in Parliament, noting that all but the Greens have publicly stated that they recognise the need for reform.

“This is a moderate reform Bill that will reduce the cost and delays for homeowners and businesses, as well as improve New Zealand’s planning and environmental controls. I thank the Māori Party for their support that will enable this large and complex Bill to pass its first reading and be referred to select committee. We look forward to hearing public submissions on the detail so we can deliver on our shared objective of reducing unnecessary bureaucracy, while ensuring we have good systems to protect the environment,” Dr Smith concluded.

Related Documents

Radio NZ – Govt gets Maori Party backing for RMA amendment bill

A compromise on new resource management legislation is necessary for the government to progress a significant overhaul of the current law, the Environment Minister says.

The Maori Party has agreed to back proposed changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA) through to the select committee stage, finally giving the government the numbers to progress long-awaited legislative changes.

Afterwards, the party said it would continue to work with the government in good faith.

The Maori Party said iwi were not looking to introduce more barriers to development or planning, but wanted to be involved from the outset to avoid problems later down the track.

The party’s co-leader Marama Fox gave the example of the Whaitua project in the Wairarapa.

“The Ruamahanga River has suffered… so iwi were consulted after the fact, and then that consultation was ignored about the use of the water and the local council’s decisions about the use of that water. They now have come at great length to an agreement to clean up that river with regional council.

“But if they’d been included in the planning at the beginning we could have avoided the level of deterioration in that river right now, and the involvement of the iwi at the beginning could have ensured a better planning process going forward.”

Yesterday Peter Dunne reiterated his position:

DunneRMA

Labour response: RMA changes must protect the environment

RMA changes must protect the environment

A Government bill to reform the RMA must not be used as a chance to tinker with its key role of protecting the environment, says Labour’s Environmental spokesperson Megan Woods.

“We will have to look at the proposed changes carefully as there are 200 pages in this Bill. We will be watching to make sure there is a decent chance for people to have their say through the select committee stage over what will clearly be a complex piece of legislation.

“The RMA is New Zealand’s core environmental protection and those protections must remain. That is our bottom line.

“Our offer to work together on sensible reforms is still on the table. This offer stands.

“We will be concerned at any changes around appeals to the Environment Court or any undermining of case law around the environment.

“We will be looking to see if the Bill elevates private property rights above wider community interests.

“This new Bill must meet these environmental bottom lines. We will be looking carefully at the Government’s intentions,” says Megan Woods.

Also from Labour: RMA changes skim surface for Maori participation

Protecting the environment and getting the right balance for sustainable development will be a core test of the proposed RMA changes, says Labour’s Maori Development spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta.

Related coverage:

Green Party response: RMA changes must not risk what we hold dear

Proposed changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA) appear on first reading to be a boon for seabed miners and property developers, the Green Party said today.

The National Government today released a new Bill which proposes changes to the RMA, laws governing conservation lands, and the Exclusive Economic Zone.

“The Government has repeatedly attacked the RMA to weaken its environmental protection, reduce public participation, and fast track high impact development. The more than 200 proposed changes in the Bill need to be carefully scrutinised to ensure New Zealand’s natural environment and sustainable urban development are not compromised for short-term financial gains,” said Green Party Environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage.

“The Bill appears to significantly increase the Minister’s powers at the expense of local councils and to further politicise environmental decision making by having the Minister, rather than the Environmental Protection Agency, appoint hearing panels for developments in New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone,” she said.

“The Bill risks having a chilling effect on councils’ ability to regulate in the community’s interest. For example, under proposed changes, councils could be reluctant to protect native plants and trees on private land as the Environment Court could require the council to purchase affected land if protections were deemed to put an ‘unfair and unreasonable burden’ on landholders.

The Greens are always going to strongly oppose the use of many natural resources.

From Interest.co.nz: The New Zealand Initiative’s Jason Krupp argues that Nick Smith should visit Montreal to see how shifting infrastructure costs can improve housing affordability

In the cut and thrust of politics it was no surprise that Environment Minister Nick Smith denounced the Labour Party’s new housing policy. After all, while it is the opposition’s job to oppose government policies, it is just as much the incumbent’s job to shoot down ideas coming from across the house.

Scoop: RMA Reform Underwhelming And a Broken Promise

“Underwhelming” sums up the initial impression of the Taxpayers’ Union to the Government’s reform legislation of the Resource Management Act, introduced this afternoon. Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director, Jordan Williams, says:

“The RMA is the largest regulatory tax on innovation, growth and living standards currently on the books. Our lawyers are still trawling through the detail, but it appears that rather than the promised reform this would be better described as ‘tinkering around the edges’.”

No party’s election policies and proposals can be regarded as ‘promises’ for the simple reason that Parliament works on majority votes and not on election promises.

All a party can do is promise that if they can get sufficient votes they promise to introduce legislation. That is MMP 101, so anyone claiming that election promises have been broken when compromises have to be made to succeed in getting legislation introduced is either ignorant or deliberately overstating their criticism.

Thanks to Mefrostate for providing links for this post.

Key “on the skids”?

Greg Presland asks Is John Key on the skids? (not as much as David Cunliffe yet at least).

In the House today Megan Woods embarrassed John Key with some very simple yet direct questions about Jason Ede. Key’s attempts to joke away the issue was met with silence from his side of the house. Dirty Politics is clearly having an effect.

7. Prime Minister—Staff Member’s Communications with Blogger

Dr MEGAN WOODS (Labour—Wigram) to the Prime Minister : Did Jason Ede provide “Mr Slater with draft blog posts” regarding NZSIS information?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): I am aware that Jason Ede spoke to Cameron Slater, just as he did with journalists and other bloggers. I have no knowledge other than what was written in the report of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, which was that he provided draft blog posts regarding NZSIS information.

Dr Megan Woods : Does he then accept that his office has a proactive relationship with Cameron Slater?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : No, and I would point out that Mr Ede has not actually worked for me in my capacity as Prime Minister for over 3 years.

Dr Megan Woods : Has he discussed with either his current chief of staff or his former deputy chief of staff, Mr de Joux, that Mr de Joux was not happy that Mr Ede has chosen to work through Mr Slater rather than the mainstream media, as per paragraph 214 of the Gwyn report?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : In answer to the last part of the question, I have not had any discussions with Phil de Joux about that matter.

Dr Megan Woods : Has he or his chiefs of staff asked Jason Ede for copies of the blog post that Cheryl Gwyn states Jason Ede drafted for Cameron Slater; if not, why not?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : In answer to the first part of the question, no, I do not believe they have.

Dr Megan Woods : Why has he not asked for the draft of the blog posts?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Well, I do not think it would achieve a hell of a lot, any more than if Mr Little was to go and ask how many people write anonymously or under pseudonyms on The Standard, and all of those things. He might find some really amazing answers but that, again, would be the pot calling the kettle black, would it not?

[Sitting date: 03 December 2014. Volume:702;Page:7. Text is subject to correction.]

I don’t think it’s quite time to write Key’s political obituary yet.