THE GUTTING OF THE RMA … THE HEART OF KIWI VALUES: BY ANTON OLIVER
During my professional playing days as an All Black I was fortunate to travel extensively around the world. The more I got to see, the greater my appreciation of how beautiful and unique New Zealand was, and how fortunate I was to call it my home. …
In 1991, when the Resource Management Act (RMA) was passed, it was a means of providing at least some environmental and social integrity to development and planning processes. It gave all New Zealanders – not just those wealthy enough to afford lawyers – a chance to be heard and most significantly it facilitated decentralised decision making: local decisions made by local people.
It protected our environment and our economy based on the premise of sustainable resource management. And what’s more, it was politically robust, in that it received the blessing of both major parties and the people they represented.
The RMA was a ground-breaking statute when introduced. Being an insecure lot, we Kiwis duly basked in the global adulation heaped upon us for our foresight in setting such a statute in place.
Now, the RMA has become the subject of much derision. To many of us, it represents bureaucracy, inefficiency, pen-pushing do-gooders and paper shufflers who engage us in an excessively long and costly process that gets in the way of us doing stuff.
Overwhelming apathy and misunderstanding of what the RMA is trying to do is deeply worrying, at a time when the Government is fundamentally changing this law that has protected so much of what we love and hold dear about our country.
The Government has floated its wholesale changes to the RMA on the premise that the Act is “is a bureaucratic and costly nightmare”, it hinders economic development and gives the environment too much weight – none of which National has, or can, back up with evidence. In fact, the hard evidence, from Adams’ own Ministry for the Environment, points to quite the contrary: of 36,154 resource consent applications in 2010-11 only 0.56% were declined; 95% were processed on time; and only 1% were appealed. And if the environment is “given too much weight”, why are environmental standards falling? …
New Zealanders’ general apathy, lack of awareness or understanding of the core purpose of the Act has enabled the Government to sell you a lemon whilst benefiting a few big industry supporters. I implore you to think about what sort of New Zealand you want to live in, and what sort of New Zealand you want your kids to inherit. It isn’t too late to act – you can make your views known by writing to Environment Minister Adams or Prime Minister John Key, as well as visiting your local MP.
Anton Oliver is a former All Blacks captain, environmentalist and ambassador for Water Conservation Orders: www.outstandingrivers.org.nz.
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