Thursday, November 26, 2015

National's RMA "reforms"

This morning the government announced that it had cut a deal with the Maori Party to introduce (and presumably pass) a bill for RMA "reform". The complete bill is here, and I've been going over it. The good news is that National's plans to gut environmental protection by removing environmental values (and adding a development clause) to the Act's "matters of national importance" is dead. They're adding risks from natural hazards, which is uncontentious, but nothing else. The bad news? They're trying to get it in via the back door by requiring local authorities to ensure they have sufficient "development capacity" through land zoning and infrastructure. Meanwhile, much of their explicitly anti-democratic agenda to reduce public participation and allow the Minister to overrule local communities and dictate plans from Wellington remains unchanged.

They're also using the bill to completely rewrite the EEZ Act to allow the Minister to "call in" applications and appoint stacked boards to produce the desired outcome - exactly as warned by Greenpeace a fortnight ago. So, I guess we'll see those seabed miners back for another go at strip-mining the seafloor, this time with Paula Rebstock collecting a huge government salary to rubberstamp the applications. I'm extremely surprised the Maori Party accepted this, given their professed environmental values, and some pointy questions need to be asked there. Because given their recent complaints about being short of money, the natural suspicion is that another deal has been done...