These are the words of Jon Morgan, farming editor of the DomPost, giving his assessment of the ‘reforms’ of the Resource Management Act (RMA) proposed — and being very hastily consulted upon — by Government. You can read his complete column here.

Illustrating very clearly that the devil is in the details (just as with our Regional Council’s dam plans), Morgan shows precisely how a handful of word changes add up to emasculation of the RMA.

And he notes that not even one month of consultation, which began two days after the ‘reforms’ were announced, is occurring on this hugely important package (submission deadline is April 2nd … details here). So much for a heap of Government rhetoric around their latest buzzword … ‘collaboration’. In terms of their ‘less is better’ philosophy of public consultation, the Government and our Regional Council are two peas in a pod.

Morgan’s conclusion:

“What I see in these proposals is further evidence of the Government’s blinkered approach to building the economy at the expense of all else.

“Yes, we must have progress. But think carefully about the sacrifices being made. The damage of a hasty decision to allow a destructive development will be felt for generations to come.”

Amen!

Tom Belford

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4 Comments

  1. Right on again Tom, and very valid concerns voiced by Jon Morgan on the perils of RMA reform.
    The idea of a ‘collaborative approach’ involving the ‘whole community’ is a bit rich coming from a government that has allocated exploration permits for oil and gas across the country with no reference whatsoever to ‘communities’; announced a plan to ‘rationalise’ schools in Canterbury without any prior warning, much less a ‘collaborative approach’; and forges ahead with asset sales in spite of public opposition.
    On the back of government thinking (and incentives) that irrigation=intensive farming=economic benefit, our Regional Council is on its way to building a big dam!
    Forget the collaboration- just straight forward, open and honest consultation with all the facts available, would have been a great place to start. One noble councilor has been heard to say (on another matter) “consultation is about listening” – that would be good, too!
    A power point presentation with nice pictures and no information, does not constitute consultation – no matter how many times it gets trotted out.
    RMA and water reforms currently on the table, signal this may be the way of the future. Great for the big boys but, as Jon Morgan says “think carefully about the sacrifices being made”.

  2. This sentence in the proposals sums it up – comic if it weren’t so fascist.

    “When an issue is nationally significant and benefits of dealing with the issue nationally outweigh the benefits of local decision making, more direct national instruments might be more appropriate.”

    Yep, National’s proposal gives Wellington power to impose a development like the Ruataniwha Dam without ‘local decision making.’

    Every strand of environmental protection is weakened in these proposals from protection of heritage buildings to access to rivers and beaches, and the value of environment is coined in terms of what it can yield.

    By gutting the RMA, and empowering the Environmental Protection Agency, this proposal is the death knell for Regional Councils. That’s obviously in the plan, linked with the LGA amendments facilitating Council amalgamations.

    National showed its contempt for Regional Councils when they sacked the elected representatives on Environment Canterbury because of fore-stalling on water developments.

    This proposal gives Wellington and the EPA the power to impose its
    ‘template’ on District Plans, and order any changes they see fit –
    fundamentally taking decision making on the big issues away from local authorities.

  3. Not good Mark, The Labour Party it seems has little gut feeling that our planet is suffering, almost beyond repair.
    Perhaps well overdue, we back the Green Party to the hilt,with Maori support .? The Green Party leadership is aware we depend on trade to “pay the bills” but not by raping our land, selling our assets towards “quick fix solutions” with rising unemployment ” “what other option please, Mark Sweet.?

  4. Interesting comment Pat. Worth noting that the Green party votes against every free trade agreement that comes into the House for debate and ratification. My conclusion, therefore, is that the Green party is not aware that “we depend upon trade to pay the bills’. In my view, Labour is the only party that truely understands the economic dynamics of 21st century.

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