RMA tinkering won’t help
he Government is going to have yet another fiddle with the Resource Management Act.
much everyone who has ever sought a resource consent has a tale of red-tape woes to tell and they’ll be wondering why even more tinkering is being done and why the Government wants to make it worse.
Unfortunately that’s precisely what is being proposed by turning the Resource Management Act into a vehicle for tackling climate change.
MMP politics and simple numbers in the House prevented National making the sweeping changes we wanted during the last Parliament.
Increasingly there are calls for less tinkering and a more sensible approach to planning and environmental protection.
Organisations such as Infrastructure New Zealand, the Employers and Manufactures Association and the Environmental Defence Society are saying that the RMA isn’t working as it should. Most importantly, they are saying the RMA doesn’t do the job it’s meant to for our built environment or our precious natural environment. We’ve already committed that the next National-led Government will stop the tinkering and, given the mandate, we will fix it once and for all. In the meantime, it would be good if we could reach some consensus with the Labour-led Government to improve this complicated legislation so people can build businesses and houses more easily and without huge costs caused by bureaucracy while at the same time ensuring the practical protections we all want for our natural environment are maintained.
The mangroves bill
“Be careful what you wish for” was one of my late mother’s favourite sayings.
I didn’t ever think it might apply to mangroves legislation for our region.
The select committee’s report on the bill that the Thames-coromandel and Hauraki district councils asked me as local MP to sponsor on their behalf has been presented back to Parliament.
The bill as originally introduced would have taken mangrove management away from Waikato Regional Council and out of the jurisdiction of the RMA, and instead given power to the two councils to create their own mangrove management plans under the Local Government Act.
That original bill was pretty simple in its objectives and wide sweeping in terms of the powers it would have given to our two local district councils. The select committee received more than 160 submissions on the bill, many of which were either strongly in favour or strongly opposed.
Long story short . . . the select committee has reported back and has recommended that the bill proceed but with a number of very significant changes. There are too many suggested changes for me to detail here but suffice to say, “be careful what you wish for” because on the face of it, the suggested changes have in my view, the potential to create a situation no more useful in terms of managing mangroves than the existing situation administered by the Waikato Regional Council.
So there needs to be a careful analysis of the proposed changes by the councils and their legal advisers. I want to consult with them as well local stakeholders before deciding on whether or not to support the bill further.
It will be the New Year before the bill is debated again in Parliament so we have a window of opportunity to do that consultation and decision making.
Litter Free New Zealand
Too often as I travel around our beautiful electorate I notice the increasing amount of litter that is scattered on our beaches, through our bush and along our roadsides.
So I’m thrilled the environment select committee has recommended that my Litter (Increased Infringement Fee) Amendment Bill be passed. It will give local governments the power to increase the maximum fine for littering from $400 as it is now to $1000.
I know that this change of itself won’t be a silver bullet in solving our litter problems but it will be a step in the right direction and will send a message to those that do litter.
Proposed changes to the administration of mangrove management need to be considered carefully by the Thamescoromandel and Hauraki district councils, Coromandel MP Scott Simpson says.