RMA to go away: Both Labour and Nats would scrap it

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is making today's announcement from Dunedin. Photo: Getty Images
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has promised to repeal the RMA. Photo: Getty Images
Labour is promising to repeal and replace the Resource Management Act (RMA) in a bid to bolster the supply of housing across the country.

The policy is almost identical to National's – which in December last year promised to scrap the almost 30-year-old piece of legislation and start again.

Labour has also promised to continue building houses and make it easier for first-home buyers to get onto the property ladder.

The party's housing policy is a far cry from the ambitious, and ultimately unsuccessful, KiwiBuild plan Labour pitched ahead of the 2017 election.

Instead of building 100,000 homes over 10 years, Labour has promised to deliver and an additional 8000 new public and transitional houses by 2024.

But those homes have already been announced in this year's budget.

In fact, much of leader Jacinda Ardern's plan for housing under a re-elected Labour Party appears to be a continuation of what it has been doing during this term of government.

But there were a few new areas of policy announced today.

Labour has promised to introduce a code of conduct to ensure property management services meet professional standards – something that Consumer NZ and the Property Council have called for.

The party has also promised to introduce Energy Performance Certificate ratings for residential buildings, so homebuyers can make informed decisions about how much it will cost to heat and cool homes.

Labour's commitment to repeal and replace the RMA means that the legislation will be scrapped and started again next term no matter who wins the election, given National has already committed to the same thing.

The legislation, introduced in 1991, has been amended almost 20 times and is close to 1000 pages long – much longer than most other laws passed by MPs.

Ardern this morning said Labour is committed to reducing barriers to the building of new homes – repealing and replacing the RMA would help with this.

Environment Minister David Parker said the current law is "overly restrictive planning rules are one of the causes of high house prices".

"Reform of the RMA has been promised by governments for over a decade. Labour is the party actually delivering on it."

The current system, Parker said, is too costly, takes too long and has not adequately protected the environment.

Labour would replace the RMA with two new laws: A Natural and Built Environments Act and a Strategic Planning Act.

National's plan is pretty much same – separating the law that deals with building and planning from the one that looks after the environment.

Comments

I'm in favour of this. The current law has become cumbersome and unwieldy, you need a lawyer just to apply for a minor consent that has no environmental impact at all. That's not the fault of any one govt, it's the fault of them all imposing change upon change upon change.

However, we cannot forget that this law when it was introduced was revolutionary, it has done a lot of good, it has forced NZers to consider the impact of their developments on others. We need to be careful that we do not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Personally I would not trust National, with an emboldened ACT whispering in their ear, goading them on like a little blue devil, to undertake a fair review process. There is too much big money and vested interests behind them.
Labour, with the Greens tagging along as their conscience, are more likely to ensure an overall fairness and ensuring that everyone's rights are given due consideration.

Agree that the RMA needs to go but concerned that it will take years to come up with a viable replacement. Maybe going back to the original founding document might be a good starting point and while they are working on the RMA, why not relook at the ACC act. The founding ACC act was a pretty good one too.

 

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