Tuesday, 3 February 2009

RMA – what “shake-up”? [update 3]

Radical changes in RMA shake-up”?  Who is the DomPost kidding?

A shake-up of the Resource Management Act is intended to help push-start new businesses and fast-track big infrastructure projects under changes to be unveiled today.

How much of that do you believe?  I have no doubt the changes will allow the government to “fast-track” its own billion-dollar babies – but how does that help property-owners stymied by planners’ rules and regulations? As former Federated Farmers president Charlie Pederson once said, "it's little, not large, that suffers most RMA pain."  How much RMA pain, if any, do you think will be removed from you and me?

What would you like to see announced today?  And, by contrast, what do you expect to see?

UPDATE 1: What I'd like to see is somewhere between this --a network of Small Consents Tribunal for smaller private projects -- and this: a stake through the heart [pdf].  Both are possible.  Both would be practical.  Either would be sensible.

But all I expect to see is this: a chocolate-coated turd, exactly as promised, that will promote easier theft of property rights by this government.

“Key elements” of the latest package are said to be:

  • Removing frivolous, vexatious and anti-competitive objections
        which will include making to more difficult to object to planners’ policies for one’s own
  • Streamlining processes for projects of national significance
        ie., streamlining things to make life easier for ThinkBig 2.0
  • Creating an Environmental Protection Authority
        ie., creating yet another bureaucracy to have even more power over property owners
  • Improving plan development and plan change processes – “for example removing the ability to make general challenges or ones that seek the withdrawal of entire proposed plans”
        ie., streamlining things to make life easier for planners
  • Improving resource consent processes
        ie., streamlining things to make life easier for ThinkBig2.0
  • Streamlining decision making
        ie., streamlining things to make life easier for planners
  • Improving workability and compliance
        ie., streamlining things to make life easier for ThinkBig2.0
  • Improving national policy instruments “such as limiting appeals on changes to district plans and to regional and national policy statements”
        ie., streamlining things to make life easier for planners and ThinkBig2.0

Are you seeing a pattern here?

The key thing to note is that when the Resource Management Act was introduced by National in 1991, in all its 456 pages property rights were not mentioned even once. Not once.  And in review after review after review, nothing has been done to change that.

““The Government is taking an innovative approach to major projects,” says the Government.  That is, it is taking an innovative approach to removing the hurdles to its own fouled-up infrastructure spend-up.  It is doing nothing for you and I, nothing at all except to raise the penalty on “offences” under the Resource Management – ie., acting in a way that a planner objects to -– from several hundred thousand dollars and the prospect of jail time, to several million dollars and even more jail time.

This is what you voted for. This is what you’ve got.


UPDATE 3:  Download the 9-page PDF here for full details;  Scoop has a summary of reactions; and listen in to National Radio this afternoon about 4:20pm, when I’ll be talking to Jim Mora about my own.


  1. Like: RMA abolished.

    Will get: less than 1% of the Act changed.

  2. Like:
    Resource Management Act chopped back so it Manages Public Resources, ie
    1) Require permits ONLY for using public resources (e.g. aquifer water).
    2) No permits required for doing something with your own resources (e.g. building on your own land). Would cut out most of the current RMA.
    3) Shortened process for approval of projects, to save costs for both the proposer and people fighting it (have been involved in fighting the CPW irrigation scheme for years now, and it is maddening to see money spent fighting one hearing knowing it is a waste of time because you'll have to fight it later in the environment court anyway whatever the decision here).

    Will get:
    - 3 for big government and government-approved big business projects, little help for small projects. But 3 in a way that makes it easier for the government to steal land and push its projects through, not just to get a quicker yet fair solution.
    - Won't get either of the others.

  3. Sure it's a shake-up, a bit like when you shake a kaleidoscope. It’s a mess before the shake and a mess after: if it weren’t for the mirrors, it would be apparent that it was a mess.

  4. Well said Clunking Fist! Having read the actual release, I have posted more here:

    There's some good stuff in there, but a lot to be concerned about. Basically if you can't afford $500 plus some unspecified "security deposit" (could be thousands) your objection is considered "frivolous" and not worth hearing. This would make it very hard for the poor and community organisations to get a just hearing.

  5. the drunken watchman3 Feb 2009, 23:21:00

    "for you and ME", not "for you and I"

    just being pedantic tonight

  6. Mr Dennis, what does a website cost? What does it cost to collect some money?

    The word poor is plural: if they have a real issue, everyone of them can spare $5 if it is that important.

    Given the fact that there are so many trivial objections. raising the bar is the only thing left (or abolish the whole thing, but that's not in the cards unfortunately).

    Every group, if interested, can raise enough money to lodge an appeal. A single individual with too much time on their hands might have it a bit more difficult. That's the purpose of the change actually.

  7. What I like about the RMA is when it fucks up the very people who suport the principles embedded within it. It gives great pleasure to hear the squealing as various halfwits fight various halfwits. I enjoy encouraging them, every one. Fight harder. Get another consultant on your team. Find a more expensive lawyer.

    What I dislike about it (aside from the very idea that such a piece of legislation should even exist) is its destruction of productive endeavour.


  8. Peter you might be looking for problems that might not exist.
    The proposals might not be ideal but they are a long way from the current
    Fascist Law.
    At lest you will be able to cut down your own trees.

  9. "At lest you will be able to cut down your own trees."

    They are not "your" trees. Stop kidding yourself.

  10. Berend de Boer:
    "Every group, if interested, can raise enough money to lodge an appeal."
    Yes, anyone should be able to raise $500 if it is important enough. But how much is the unspecified "security deposit"? For a community group that is already spending thousands on lawyers and expert consultants to then have to come up with, say, $10,000 as a deposit (we have no idea what it would be) may be completely impossible.

    I can't stand the RMA either, and feel that we should be strengthening private property rights instead. But if the RMA is the system we must work under, everyone with a legitimate concern must have access to the process. This security deposit could prevent that.

  11. LGM
    You have free hold land with trees you have planted.
    Who owns the trees?

  12. " to then have to come up with, say, $10,000 as a deposit (we have no idea what it would be) may be completely impossible"

    Well, I'm sure a judge will set the amount based on the merits of your case.

  13. "Well, I'm sure a judge will set the amount based on the merits of your case."
    We'll have to wait to see the details before we can know for sure. But at the moment it does look like a clause that is open for abuse.

  14. Roger

    There are laws and regulations pertaining to the planting, culling and triming of trees. Trees are defined and classified by category. Should you wish to trim or cull etc. you need to check into which particular category the tree of interest is classified. Once you have done this you must then look up the permissions or rather the process for seeking permissions for the activity (regarding that tree) which you propose. In some cases you will be pleased to find that you may cut the tree or trim it without further requirement for consent from the authority that controls it. In other cases you will find you must ask permission, which may or may not be granted.

    Who owns the tree? The entity which controls its use and dispoal owns it. That entity is not you.


  15. LGM
    “Who owns the tree? The entity which controls its use and dispoal owns it. That entity is not you”.

    That is the very reason why the RMA needs to be scrapped.

  16. Roger

    You are absolutely correct. RMA needs to be eliminated.



1. Commenters are welcome and invited.
2. All comments are moderated. Off-topic grandstanding, spam, and gibberish will be ignored. Tu quoque will be moderated.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say, it's important enough to put a name to.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.