“Instead of replacing the RMA with a property-rights based system that allows Kiwis to develop more and get things done, Labour has used their replacement as a trojan horse for more co-government,” says ACT’s Local Government spokesperson Simon Court.

“The driving principle of Labour’s Natural and Built Environments (NBE) Bill is “Te Oranga o te Taiao”, which means plans must incorporate the health of the natural environment; the intrinsic relationship between iwi and hapū and te taiao; the interconnectedness of all parts of the natural environment; and the essential relationship between the health of the natural environment and its capacity to sustain all life.

“How land and freshwater will be managed by “relationships” and “interconnectedness” in practice is anyone’s guess.

“This is a recipe for endless judicial hearings as people try to figure out what it means. Placing undefined relationships and interconnectedness at the heart of land and water management means that almost anyone claiming even the most indirect interest in someone’s property can have a say and drag any development into the Courts.

“Labour hasn’t learned from the public’s rejection of Three Waters. Who your grandparents are shouldn’t make any difference to what water rights you have, or in this case how much say you have over what people do on their land.

“All persons exercising powers under the Bill must also give effect to undefined “principles of the Treaty of Waitangi”. While a National Māori Entity will provide “proactive monitoring” of “te Tiriti performance”.

“While regional planning committees are legislated to have a minimum of two iwi-appointed members on any regional planning committee, the Waitangi Tribunal has indicated it expects a 50:50 split of local governments and iwi.

“There is no explanation to how this will make houses easier to build or roads easier to fix.  

“Labour has addressed none of the problems that the original RMA caused for development, all they’ve done is insert a healthy dose of co-government into an already flawed system.

“Co-government has no place in our planning laws. The Government should take a property rights based approach. The only rights people should have to object is if someone else’s actions are affecting your own property.

“ACT is announcing its alternative to the RMA next Tuesday, and it will provide a clear example of how planning laws should look if New Zealand is to have the infrastructure to handle a growing population.

“If we want to get cheaper goods to market and more houses built for the next generation, we need to reduce government interference and allow Kiwis to maintain property rights. That is the only way we will realise our economic potential.”

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Simon Court