Labour plans more controls on planting plantation forests to protect valuable soils and water resources, will require residential property managers to be licensed and will put a framework in place to help people with properties affected by climate change

Labour plans more controls on planting plantation forests to protect valuable soils and water resources, will require residential property managers to be licensed and will put a framework in place to help people with properties affected by climate change

Labour has announced some key aspects of its plans to replace the Resource Management Act, and confirmed it will introduce a licensing regime for residential property managers.

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern and environment spokesman David Parker say that if Labour is re-elected it will repeal the Resource Management Act and replace it with two new laws - a Natural and Built Environments Act and a Strategic Planning Act.

As part of that process, Labour will also introduce a third piece of legislation, a Managed Retreat and Climate Change Adaptation Act, which was a one of the recommendations in The Randerson report on the Resource Management Act.

That would put a framework in place to assist people that need to relocate from coastal areas due to the effects of climate change such as coastal erosion.

Labour also intends to revise current regulation to restrict the planting of plantation forests in certain areas.

Ardern and Parker's statement said Labour would revise the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry in its first six months of government if re-elected, to enable councils to determine what classes of land can be plantation and carbon forests.

"While increased forestry provides environmental benefits for New Zealand, we do not want to see our most productive farm land planted in exotic trees," the statement said.

"We also need to avoid trees being planted in areas where they could cause wilding tree problems, or in water-short areas where they could impact significantly on currently available water resources."

Residential property managers will also come under the government spotlight if Labour is re-elected.

Property management is currently unregulated, but Labour says it will introduce a Code of Conduct and licensing regime for property managers and require them to meet a good character test.

However the statement on this policy was short on detail as to how this would work, other than to say that it will "work with industry to develop practical standards and consider the similarities and differences with the existing regime for real estate agents."

The comment stream on this story is now closed.

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.

41 Comments

12
up

Labour proved last time that election promises mean nothing once they have won power. All credibility lost. Look at house prices.

Yeah, we're screwed. Labour-Greens can't deliver on affordable housing promises, and Nats-ACT want to roll back foreign investment ban and reinstate previous bright-line test limits, as if housing inflation wasn't high enough already.

At one of last week's debate, National and ACT reps dodged questions on the RMA and opening up markets to overseas buyers incentivising premium home building, instead of their promised boost to affordable housing.
It makes no economic sense as to why most developers would waste their limited land, time and financial resources catering to demands of median households, when they could profit a lot more from building premium housing for rich buyers in NZ and from overseas.

Premium housing eventually becomes median housing. Build née premium houses so the buyers of those houses vacate their formerly premium houses and your housing is overall of a higher standard.

Sure, unless the buyers want to add these newly-minted 'poker chips' to the 40k vacant homes in Auckland (7.3% of the city's private dwellings lie vacant), lying as stock for capital gains.

I see where you're coming for but trickle-down economics doesn't really work in this case either. Also, 5 luxurious homes usually take up the same amount of spaces and occupy the same building workforce as roughly 20+ townhouses.

To be fair Labour have done *some* good things, and they are still better than the other bunch.

Elaborate please

I said *some* things:

- Foreign buyers ban
- extension of bright line test
- National Policy Statement - Urban Development
- Urban Development Act
- Infrastructure Funding and Financing Act

The last three are potentially very powerful, but let's see how well they use them in their coming term...

I would give them a C overall on housing because of the things above. Could have scored higher if they had done better on Kiwibuild, and if they had introduced a CGT.

How could you give them a C when they've made no tangible progress on housing affordability? We all knew it wasn't the foreign buyers that were causing affordability issues. One word - immigration

Why? Because of the other things, which are quite significant.

The things they did had no effect? Token gestures

How do you know they had no effect? The market has been flat the last 3 years.
Anyway, I am not here to defend Labour, just wanted to provide some balance.
I think it will be fairer to judge them at the end of their next term.

The market has been flat? You sure? I personally don't think we have another 3 years to waste

lol classic scapegoating of immigrants again. Come on now, lf it's all the immigrants at fault then why have prices spiked this year despite negative net migration numbers? It's all about credit growth. If banks weren't continuously willing to lend crazier and crazier sums then none of this would be possible.

100% agree with you there

Its a multitude of factors; immigration, banks/the reserve bank, the resource management act, tax policy, lazy politicians who pay lip service to productivity ...

Despite Labour's claims, they have really accelerated migration recently; in the year to March, 86,000, a record gain.
This chart gives a good visual of the increase:
net-long-term-migration

If we have 10-15 years of migration numbers at their previous long-term trend of 10-15,000 per year, and house prices are still this crazy, then you could say your right. The recent boost to inflows is not going to be dissipated over-night.

Sadly, NZ will probably look to revert to type as soon as possible, as GDP juicing population growth is an excellent distraction from NZ's declining productivity performance, and general decline in living standards.

The low cost of money is what causes house prices to rise.

Everything else is a sideshow.

Like fix huge immigration problem...... oh no... that was COVID-19. Labour just stopped processing residency permits and thought we were so stupid we couldnt see what game they were playing. Same numbers coming in, just slower to process paperwork, that will fool 'em! Now you know why Jacinda talks to us like we are foolish children.

John Key's mass migration policies brought an abundance of low-wage workers and consumers from overseas, boosting profits for low-value businesses that drove economic growth in NZ for the better part of a decade.
A sudden reduction in migration numbers would be nothing short of throwing a spanner into our economic machine. This would have also reduced the coalition's ability to address the under-investment in core services and infrastructure under John Key.

To Labour's credit, they have been negotiating and signing agreements with sectors that rely the most on lower-skilled migrant workers. These sectors are allowed to sponsor visas for short-term migrant labour on the condition they do more towards training and bringing locals to address shortages in their sector.

https://www.immigration.govt.nz/about-us/what-we-do/our-strategies-and-p...

New rules/changes already signed off for Central Otago for hort and viticulture https://workandincome.govt.nz/about-work-and-income/news/2020/supplement...

The difficulty for many in relation to understanding these good things is that much of the progress are incremental changes (in the right direction) to many of the ills/problems of our society and environment. Take changes to the RMA - National frames its response as 'get rid of the RMA' but of course it has to be replaced by something. Ultimately their intent is no different than Labour, i.e., legislative change, but what National doesn't explain is what the interim is. Perhaps they intend to make amendments to the RMA as an interim, but they aren't (that I've heard) stated what those intended amendments are - they're just going to 'get rid of the RMA', whatever that means.

Whereas Labour are already building an interim framework via legislative initiatives such as the 3 waters project; the new NPS on freshwater, the Urban Development Act, the new organisational powers/responsibilities given to Kainga Ora, the change to 12-monthly rental increases, the restrictions on foreign owners of existing residential housing, etc.

the new organisational powers/responsibilities given to Kainga Ora

That's an interesting one. Kainga Ora could issue consents for its own developments, provided a Specific Development Project has been approved through the right channels of central government and independent environment court judges.

These recent developments have made LGNZ uneasy and mayors around the country uncomfortable, which as I see it is a good sign of progress.

Dave Cull from LGNZ responded "you get the best outcomes if you make the decisions at a local level and empower those communities". Tell that to Aucklanders whose formal request to draw more water from the Waikato river took 7 years and a once-in-decades drought to be even considered.

Yes.

Kate: "National frames its response as 'get rid of the RMA'" but they aren't (that I've heard) stated what those intended amendments are... - they're just going to 'get rid of the RMA', whatever that means.

Judith Collins, July 2020: "Collins said previous governments had tinkered with the RMA with amendments, and that was a "mistake''.
"We will replace it with two new pieces of law: an Environment Standards Act, setting our environmental bottom lines; and an Urban Planning and Development Act, giving clarity and consistency. We will begin this work in our first 100 days."

Given these are just 'names' of intended legislation, and given we already have RMA instruments (National Policy Statements and National Environmental Standards) that set bottom lines, and given the coalition government have just brought into force two acts dealing to the RMA's deficiencies in the urban environment, and given a very detailed Resource Management reform consideration has just been completed by an independent working group - Collins needs to be a bit more specific than a couple of 'names' for proposed legislation.

And she's absolutely right - the previous National government tinkered and tinkered and tinkered - and many of the tinkerings were a near total waste of time/bureaucratic nightmare; e.g.,

http://legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1991/0069/latest/DLM7236259.html

Problem for National is the real progress on reform began 3 years ago, but not under their watch.

All that said, I really should read their full policy document (if they have one).

House prices have risen 27% since they came in to power. It's entirely due to Tywfords inability to live up to his promise to remove urban growth limits in Auckland. Instead he became transfixed with light rail and Kiwibuild - both failures.

The median section price in Auckland is around $600K - this is main driver of over-priced housing. Nothing else matters much - markets will respond with supply when they are not restricted by central planners. Why build a cheap house on a $600K section?

27%? Talk about fake news LOL

Why fake news?

House prices are up +29% in three years. - David Chaston end-its-first-term-we-look-economic-benchmarks-we-when-labour-nz-first-greens-government

Apologies you are right. I was thinking more of Auckland.

Fair enough. I’m not sure if Roger’s talking about nationally or Auckland either actually.

Are Labour so sure of winning that they can simply announce National policies? First Tiwai keep-alive and now RMA repeal and replace with two new acts.

Border force next perhaps?

The coalition government have been working towards repeal/replace of the RMA ever since they formed a government. A lot of regulatory and legislative work already done; plus the high-level report on intentions for repeal/replacement. Here's a press release by EDS on their thoughts on their intent in that regard;

https://www.eds.org.nz/our-work/media/media-statements/media-statements-...

To borrow from Shakespeare, what's in a name...? We already have a border force - it's just not called that. Do you really think we need a whole new government department/agency created in response to COVID border protection?

Setting up a "Border Force" is the last thing we need right now. It takes time for any new entity to find its feet and settle efficiently down to work, that's time we can't afford to be having extra stuff ups. Plus where would the staff come from?...they would be mostly poached from existing border staff, plus a few plum positions for friends.

Good that Labour has worked that out at last. IIRC they were able to block repealing of the RMA when National was in power.

Now both major parties want do the same thing. The pity is that it could have already been in place by now.

Right now we probably don't need a border force. We needed one 4 or 5 months ago.
Right now what we need is Ashley Bloomfield to write an order instructing the govt to stop flights from countries with out of control Covid.

I don't think National (under Key's 9 years) ever proposed repeal of the RMA - they just amended it. To repeal it they would have had to have written alternate legislation and introduced those Bills.

One amendment they tried to get through was blocked however because they didn't have the numbers from their coalition partners (neither Māori, nor United First would vote for it), but that proposed amendment was simply word changes to the act's purpose, section 5. And they on their own wouldn't have magically made the RMA any less cumbersome and bloated from a development perspective. The only way those amendments would have got traction/application would have been via Court proceedings and new precedent settings - and those take years to find their way through the system. And moreover, only the big guns can afford to litigate - and there are big guns on both sides.

Hence repeal and replace is the only way to go - to my mind, that is.

The Resource Management Act was passed in 1991.

Its effective operation depended on central government providing country-wide guidance via national policy statements and via technical support for local authorities from the Ministry for the Environment.

Neither happened under Bolger/Shipley or Clark. Finally some national policy statements under Key. The Key government also tinkered and tinkered with the Act, making it more and more convoluted (thanks Nick Smith).

Meanwhile the 1991 changes to housing finance by Richardson and Shipley - ending government assistance for first time buyers through such measures as capitalising family benefit, State Advance low interest, Central government assistance in developing new urban infrastructure; and introducing corporate welfare for landlords (aka housing supplements) - gave us our current housing crisis.

There should be no way coastal property owners get to put their hand in my pocket because they were dumb or vain enough to buy right on the coast.
Sea level rise is 3mm per year, so 6 inches over 50 years. That shouldn't catch out anyone properly prepared and thinking ahead. Coastal erosion has always been happening and comes with the territory.

Beanie, you don't get it - they are property owners! They cant ever be expected to shoulder any risks. They are a protected species.

Haha...if that want so true it could be funny.

Coastal accretion also occurs, as does tectonic uplift. Swathes of the East Coast of the South Island are safe from SLR for a millennium at 3mm/year.....Then there's isostatic rebound, subduction zones, fault lines ( all essentially impossible to predict return times for). We definitely need some sort of insurance, as we just don't know what that ol' trickster Gaia will do next. Or when. Or where.

Yes, I'm wary of that whole issue as well. The main proposals I've heard of envision an EQC-like fund for those properties 'tagged' for managed retreat through administrative/regulatory policy/rule making. We haven't let risk-based pricing as is now being implemented by insurance companies run its course yet. No one I know has adequately answered why the public should interfere in the market. It's a bit like accommodation supplement on steroids.

Sea rise retreat management - what is that, can Labour hold the tide back? Sounds more like a bailout fund.

Visit any beach, look at the planning map, regardless of your opinion why, beach front is in retreat. At the current rate, many sections and the associated land will be gone in a generation unless we build walls like they did long ago in Holland.

Why people pay the prices they do for this exposure still makes me laugh.