Friday, 2 September 2005

Where is ACT's RMA Policy?

What exactly is ACT's policy on the RMA? Do they know themselves? The ACT website has contained the following promise for some time (it occurs here, here, here, and here):
Environmental legislation to be effects-based, which implies substantial changes the RMA [sic]. (ACT has a separate RMA Policy that details these changes).
But aside from this being both dripping wet and as bland as week-old porridge, the ACT website still has no "separate RMA Policy" as promised. It just ain't there. 

Has someone forgotten to write it?

Is there disagreement about what "substantial changes" to the RMA would look like?

Is Ken ('I-love-the-RMA') Shirley running a rearguard action to keep the thing?

Or does ACT just not give a shit about substantive policy because they're too busy making up new websites and trumpeting dodgy polls?

I think we should be told.

In the meantime, how's this for a "separate RMA Policy":

Abolish it.

Put a stake through its heart -- that should separate the men from the faint-hearted -- and reinstate the common law protections for property rights and the environment that have been buried by central planning, district planning and the RMA's meddling eco-fascism.

 Fortunately, somebody already is saying that, and has been saying it now for over ten years.

Any reason ACT couldn't adopt that as its policy?

Any reason at all other than gutlessness?


  1. Peter, you obviously have a big case of poll envy - so much so that you'll resort to disingenuous posts to smear ACT.

    The basic ACT RMA policy is to TOTALLY GUT the RMA. I don't know if it has been stated on the web site but that is clearly their position. Perhaps they are waiting to roll out the policy in detail; this is an election campaign after all.

    If you just search for "RMA" in the site search bar you'll find plenty of consistent anti-RMA releases from ACT.


    And as for your smear on Ken "'I Love the RMA'" Shirley: he changed his tune long ago. He said this: "For many years I clung to the belief that the RMA was based on sound, laudable principles that regrettably had been sadly compromised by deficient and faulty implementation. This sounds a bit like the argument that communism is wonderful in its pure form but hasn't been applied properly yet. After years as an apologist I am now of the firm view that the Act is fundamentally flawed. The basic premises that it is built on are invalid. It fails the basic requirement for all legislation to be sound in principle and incentive."

    Surely people are allowed to change their minds?

    PC, you can do better than this.

  2. Vet7, the pieces you quote are illuminating, and I have seen all of them before. I'm glad you and I agree that the RMA should go -- or do you? -- but my problem with ACT's RMA-talk has been, first that it has taken them so long to wake up to the problem with it, and second, that their actual promises do not match the rhetoric. Ken's speech on the RMA, for instance, from which you quote his change of heart finishes not with a ringing call for abolition or an impassioned plea to put a stake through its heart, but with bland marshmallow-talk: a call for "a fundamental re-examination of the frameworks, structures and premises that underpin the Act."


    That's been the pattern with all ACT's RMA-talk over the last three years (prior to which we didn't even see that much): the large print giveth, and the small print taketh away -- which is not safe with any politician, and which is why I wanted to highlight the fact that after nine years in parliament ACT still doesn't have an RMA policy. It's not enough to say "We don't like it!" -- you also have to say: "Get rid of it!"

    Let me for example quote the 'bottom lines' of each of the posts you cite, each of which (apart from the first example) bangs on about how bad things are before offering a hand-wringing solution:

    ***25 July 2005: “The RMA needs to be gutted with private property rights put at the heart of sound environmental law." It's not a call for abolition, and there's no detail? It's good election rhetoric, but it's still just rhetoric that needs policy to back it up.

    *** 6 November 2004: "Fine-tuning and tinkering will no longer suffice but rather a fundamental re-examination of the frameworks, structures and premises that underpin the Act are required." WTF? Fine speech... for the most part (which oddly enough looks a lot like this PDF article as it happens) but without any conclusion to it. Just that bland mush above.

    *** 2 December 2004: “Our planning laws should be neutral rather than providing special fast track provisions for publicly-owned infrastructural utilities.” "Neutral." Right then.

    *** 15 September 2004: “What is required is a major reform of our environment planning laws, starting with an examination of first principles." No call for abolition there either.

    ***13 May 2004: “The RMA is fundamentally flawed and its basic premises need to be re-examined. The Act should be confined to the management of natural and physical resources, and all attempts at addressing the cultural and metaphysical should be dropped along with its all-embracing attempts at social engineering." No better, is it?

    So as I said, ACT still has no RMA policy. If they want to abolish it, then why not just say so. If they have a "separate RMA Policy" why not just publish it. If abolition is the policy I'd be the first to be excited ... but it's not. What is "disingenuous" here then is not my criticisms of ACT's limp-wristedness, but the disingenuity of ACT apologists trying to have it both ways, and ACT spokesmen not having the courage of the convictions they claim to possess.

  3. Isn't it a case of "we say its broken, and we are committed to fixing it."

    Once in power, they could assemble a team to review and recommend. Abolishing it completely might be a libertarian dream, but side effects could be an issue.

    Having a stance that the RMA is very broken is surely better than several of the other parties that will likely keep adding to it, quite happy with a few tweaks.

    I notice a lot of parties doing this. The Greens want to sort out Health spending by renaming the Health Department to "Health and Wellness" and then putting money aside to work out new wellness strategies. Whoop-de-do. Most of their ideas are completely uncosted and have no detail. For example - insulate the houses of poor people to reduce sickness. Good idea, but how and how much cost. Most houses poor people live in are rentals. I asked them if it meant they would pay to insulate the properties owned by the rich capitalists they despise, or to increase taxes? And implementation plans - do we have the resources to order and install 1 million batts (or will the work go to a foreign company after a dodgy tender???)

    No answer. No details. ACT have been more definite about their policies than most. I would expect them to honour their commitment to overhaul the RMA if they get into power (or else!).

    In the meantime, ACT door knocking on Epsom is the best chance you have of seeing any changes to the RMA.

    At least, that's the way I see it.


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