Wednesday, July 24, 2019

More RMA reform

The Resource Management Act is one of the most important pieces of legislation in the country, both in terms of its impact and its influence. If you want to build a house, run a farm, or dig a mine, or if you have opinions on whether someone else should be allowed to, then you interact with this legislation, and the way it is written literally shapes the environment around us. So, every government since 1991 has engaged in "RMA reform", typically to enable rich people to do those things more easily while restricting the ability of the rest of us to have any say on it. And the current government is no exception. They've just announced plans to "reform" the RMA, tasking an Expert Advisory Group to look at various questions, including how it will work with the Zero Carbon Bill. The good news is that they seem to want to reverse many of National's "reforms", which involved making the RMA less democratic and allowing landowners to chainsaw any tree they wanted. The bad news is that taking a proper look at things takes time, so they don't expect to have a bill before May next year, which given usual slippage and the need for an election, probably means mid-2021. by which time the political landscape will have changed, and the desire for RMA reform (or rather, which RMA reform) with it.

The other good news is that they have identified some priority issues for immediate change. Unfortunately, there's no word on what these are, but I'm hoping they include s104E, which bans local authorities from explicitly considering climate change, as well as the parallel clause in the Exclusive Economic Zone Act. We're in the middle of a climate crisis, and it is utterly nonsensical to tie the hands of what could be an effective tool to prevent it.

Update: Environment Minister David parker has confirmed in Question Time that the government does not plan to urgently repeal s104E or similar clauses, or to restore tree protection (which National gutted). So there's nothing good here. As usual.