National hates the Resource Management Act. Since being elected in 2008, they've been on a crusade against it, passing five bills "reforming" the law - an average of one a year. And at every stage they have reduced public input, weakened environmental protection, and moved decision-making further away from local communities and into the hands of a distant "Environmental Protection Authority" answerable to the Minister and developers, not voters.
Their latest "reforms" - finalised by Environment Minister Amy Adams at the National party conference last month - would continue this trend, making development a "matter of national importance" and allowing Ministers to micromanage local plans to advantage crony developers, removing democracy and providing a blank cheque for mining, drilling, and urban sprawl. But that's too far for National's coalition partners, who have pulled the plug:
United Future and the Maori Party have teamed up to block the Government's major reforms of the Resource Management Act.
The two parties said this morning they could not support the latest changes to the Act and had written to Environment Minister Amy Adams with their concerns.
Government needed either United Future or the Maori Party's support to get the legislation over the line.
This is great news for the environment - and bad news for National. It shows that their coalition partners are getting thoroughly sick of their new, radical turn, and will no longer support it. Which does not bode well for them in 2014, either electorally or in subsequent coalition talks.
Now, if only Dunne and Turia will show the same opposition to National's plans to remove our right to oppose offshore drilling...