RMA reform Bill passes as Maori Party supports National; ACT’s Seymour lets rip on the RMA; Labour's Robertson claims process corrupt; Greens outline housing demand problems; NZF announces coalition deal would require Bill's repeal

Nick Smith finally got his second phase of Resource Management Act (RMA) reforms passed into law on Thursday as the Maori Party supported National in getting the required legislation through Parliament.

The 250-page RMA Amendment Bill contained 40 changes to the RMA which were critical for the government’s programme to increase the supply and affordability of housing, Smith said during the third and final reading of the legislation.

The Bill has split the National-led coalition government, with ACT and UnitedFuture both voting against it. ACT leader David Seymour used his speech to rip into the very need for the RMA, after the Productivity Commission had recently recommended the legislation be scrapped.

The debate also allowed for political parties across the spectrum to touch on their own housing and Election 2017 policies. The Green Party's Julie-Anne Genter used her time to outline how government also needed to tackle the demand side of the housing equation.

Labour’s Grant Robertson referenced the politics used to get Maori Party agreement for the Bill, with the compromises with National only revealed after it had been through the Select Committee process, meaning the public was not given a chance to comment on the agreements. “How is that not corruption of the process of this House?” Robertson asked.

Meanwhile, New Zealand First Deputy Leader Ron Mark said any party wanting to enter into coalition with NZF after the 23 September general election would need to accept their demand that the Amendment Bill would need to be repealed by any government that was in place with NZF's support.

'Biggest issue is housing supply'

Smith began the third reading by saying new National Planning Standards would simplify the 80,000 pages of RMA rules and policies that made it “a nightmare for New Zealanders to navigate. A country of 4.7 million people cannot justify that level of bureaucracy.”

It takes on average seven years currently for a council to complete a new plan, Smith said. “That is just too slow to adjust the sort of water and housing issues that our communities face.”

“One of the biggest issue facing our country right now is the supply and affordability of housing,” he said.

The supply of land was the core issue. “The cost of building an average 170 square metre house in Auckland has increased from $120,000 25 years ago to $365,000 today – a threefold increase. But the cost of the average section…has on the same period gone from $53,000 to $535,000 – a ten fold increase,” Smith said.

“You cannot pretend to be serious about improving the affordability of housing unless you are prepared to address the price of new sections and the reform of the very Act, the RMA, that governs their creation,” he said.

Smith listed several changes that were being made with the Bill, including: New requirements for councils to free up land supply, removing appeals on resource consents for residential developments, reversing the presumption in favour of subdivision, removes the double-charging system of development and financial contributions to a single tighter regime.

“This will help reduce the cost of sections down,” he said.

The Bill would also do away with the need for consents for minimal works. Smith noted examples of decks and carports that cost more for a resource consent than to build. Councils would be given power to waive the need for consents, be given a new 10-day fast track for minor issues, and the ability to resolve boundary infringement issues with the consent of the immediate neighbour.

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14 Comments

Hi Alex, did the Marama Fox SOP 281 provisions make it through? They are the ones that were to limit the Minister's powers to over rule plan provisions where certain LAs have declared themselves GM free. This was Sunday's coverage of it a few weeks ago;

http://tvnz.co.nz/sunday-news/billion-dollar-battle-video-6518656

The Maori Party assured everyone that they would not vote with the Nats unless those over ride provisions were removed - and that was the subject of their/her SOP.

Hi Kate - yes - page 70 (or par 105) of the Bill here. Is only a couple of lines added but that's the change there.

http://www.legislation.govt.nz/bill/government/2015/0101/latest/DLM6669131.html

Cheers

 

Right, great! Still not overly happy with the new executive powers introduced but at least organically certified growers in these regions can rest a bit easier.

It's a step away from representative democracy and towards unaccountability.

I must disagree, they are not a Select Comittee...just selective, but not representing...our ...true needs.

Get off the Bench......or the game will change...next election.

Stalling for 9 years and counting. is not acceptable...RMA....a 50/50 split. Maori decider....to close for comfort.

Resource Mis-managaement Act, phase 2....Game on.

Anything that national does - ?

Election not far away.

agree with david Seymour RMA needs scraping and replacing with a new simpler ACT

Trump came to power promising to repeal Obamacare.
Can Winston come to power promising to repeal Smithscare ?

Smithscare
Can WP reduce 80,000 words of the RMA Act down to a 3 word slogan and sell it to the great unwashed?

Unlikely

Insidious, and I must say Marama Fox has gone down several points in my estimations of her. This thing places way too much power in the hands of far too few. The RMA could have been amended without this, and if the removal of democracy in Canterbury where water goes is anything to go by, it will present us with a lot of ecological disasters. Only redeemer is the election is just a few short months away. This bill will need to be revisited quick smart by the new government.

This probably only benefits the land bankers who all vote.....same party as the specuvestors.

National are going to have to try really hard to stay in govt.
Prior to this, my prediction for the election was that they would get in, but would have to go with NZF, because I don't think they will have enough votes with National, UF, Act and MP.
But now... NZF have put a hard line condition for their support, so I guess they have effectively ruled out a coalition with National.

Surely it will come down to who the voters select. I would welcome seeing the back of United Future, the Maori Party and probably David Seymour ( it is hard to work out whether he is speaking for or against the Government at this stage). When people get to understand what the Mana Whakahono a Rohe co-governance provisions (now renamed Iwi Participation Arrangements) mean to this country, they will bolt from National and the RMA. Introduced after submissions closed, there has been absolutely no opportunity for public input into the new statutory powers for iwi and hapu in the Bill. Being kept very quiet! Take the time to read up on it.

How can a section go from 53K to 530K ?
Where do you pay that for a section ?
If that is in fact true then why bother building