“As the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle brings rivers of slash through Kiwis’ homes and livelihoods, ACT is proposing a change to resource management that would ensure accountability lies with those responsible, and property owners are spared further pain,” says ACT’s Environment spokesperson Simon Court.

"People on the East Coast have had their private property ruined by debris from culled trees. ACT’s approach to resource management would mean these people are rightfully considered the victim in this situation and they should be properly compensated for loss of enjoyment of their property.

“This is part of ACT's replacement to the RMA announced last year. It would shift the underlying principle of resource management to preserving the enjoyment of property, with common property accounted for by representative groups such as the local regional councils.

“In this case, the responsibility for the damage incurred by slash would lie with forestry companies. Meaning it is their responsibility to find a solution and dispose of the debris before situations like this occur.

“On a property rights basis, people can do anything that does not harm others’ enjoyment of property. It dramatically reduces the range of people who have an interest in someone else’s use of their own property. At the same time, if you’re doing something that is ruining someone else’s property then you should be held responsible.

“The Government had an opportunity to overhaul the RMA and incorporate a property-rights based approach. Instead, it is focussed on changing little more than the administrative structure.

“There is going to be a long road to recovery from Cyclone Gabrielle. It is vitally important that the government helps Kiwis get their lives back on track. ACT will continue suggesting and supporting sensible measures to bring relief to those in need.”

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