Over the weekend, I heard that Treasurer Bill English and Prime Minister John Key resisting an admission that their Government is in disarray was some how a good thing. It ignores the fact that an unrelenting assault in progress which has led some to believe that National Members of Parliament knew full well they were launching, when they said that they might tell Auckland Council to resign if they do not support the new R.M.A. reforms.
The Resource Management Act was not written to appease anyone. It was written to provide a set of checks and balances against which the adverse effects of a proposed activity has to be as good as, if not better than, the standards that have been set by the local council. Are those checks and balances perfect – it depends on what one makes of them. A good example that I like to mention is that National typically finds the Act and its provision excessively hindering economic development, and campaigns against it at virtually every election. The Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand finds on the other hand that economic development is not hindered sufficiently to make it sustainable (a Green ideal that I share. Part of this may be jealousy that the ground has shifted under the feet of National, which did not get detected on earlier. Making a resource consent application is not about unnecessary paper work, but about showing that a proposed activity does not run counter to the checks and balances that the Act deems necessary. And an application will have:
- Have an Assessment of Environmental Effects
- Have a correspondingly deep outline of how those environmental effects will be tackled
However Councils have some serious problems. Their respective regional/district/city plans were written based on extensive consultation with locals, interest groups and businesses alike. They took a decade or more in some cases to put these plans together. By threatening to force councils to open up land that has a particular zoning and might not be appropriate, the Government is in effect threatening to throw decades of democratic co-operation between councils and communities out the window. That is appalling.
- Councils are going to be forced to allow foreign visitors with potentially no regard for New Zealand customs and laws to buy land they might not develop
- If Councils resist, they risk having an Environment Canterbury type take over – would Auckland for example tolerate that? I hope not
- Will the average person begin to see an improvement in Auckland housing prices before it becomes a financial ghetto of unaffordable properties?