RMA reform 'no magic solution', but Labour will back it

Labour environment spokesman David Parker (Simon Wong / 3 News)
Labour environment spokesman David Parker (Simon Wong / 3 News)

Labour says it will back National's proposed changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA) through its first reading, saying the major reforms are a "step in the right direction".

Last week, Environment Minister Nick Smith said the Government would introduce the legislation following "intensive" negotiations with the Maori Party.

Their lack of support, as well as from United Future, for the reform had been a major stumbling block to progress.

Environmental protections were a key concern for opponents.

In all, 40 major changes were proposed, which Dr Smith says will reduce bureaucracy, increase housing development and support business growth.

Today, Labour's environment spokesman, David Parker, said the party would support "sensible process improvements" to the RMA.

"We are pleased National lost the battle to undermine the core environmental protections in the Act.

"These process changes are modest and will do little to fix the causes of the housing crisis. But they will have some positive impacts around the margins," Mr Parker says.

Labour will vote for the legislation, which will send it to the select committee process.

Mr Parker says while the Bill is "no magic solution", he sees it as a surrender by National because they know "gutting the Act is not the solution".

He says the party has offered to work with Dr Smith on meaningful changes, but has so far refused.

Concessions around parts six and seven, which govern the environmental and economic effects, have been made.

Last week, Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell says it was important to keep the environmental protection in the RMA.

Iwi input in the early stages of council planning are also included in proposed changes.

The Maori Party worked with the Government for nine months on the issue before it felt it could support it.

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