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RMA architect calls for an end to fiddling with the Act

Architecture - article by Make Lemonade NZ

Auckland – November 4, 2015

Within 24 hours of the Productivity Commission’s announcement of its inquiry into how New Zealand’s Planning system might be improved, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and architect of the original Resource Management Act (RMA) Sir Geoffrey Palmer addressed delegates at the Environmental Compliance Conference in Auckland.

Sir Geoffrey made a plea at the conference on Monday for an end to fiddling with the planning system, saying that the history of amendments to the RMA had taken the original Act from just 382 pages of the statute book when it was passed in 1991 to 682 pages in September 2015.

“The legislative history of the RMA demonstrates a picture of confusion and inadequate law – making processes that have failed to address important problems. The machinery of government seems not to have been up to the task. Failure to make policy statements and environmental standards handicapped the legislation and left local authorities wandering in the wilderness.

“Many of the political reactions that led to amending the acts for the RMA over the years have made the legislation worse not better. Constant fiddling debilitates both the Act and its administration,” Sir Geoffrey said.

He praised the work of the Productivity Commission but called for an evidence-based, blueprint for change which would inevitably require changes in existing local government policies, particularly amalgamation and other legislation to produce integration which the commission has asked.

NZPI supports Sir Geoffrey’s call for a comprehensive and strategic approach to any review of the New Zealand planning system. The NZPI considers any reforms of our planning system should be examined in an integrated manner rather than just tinker with the RMA. NZPI encourages the Government to involve key stakeholders to achieve a holistic and aligned vision for reform.

The NZPI noted the NZCID report Integrated Governance, Planning and Delivery calls for a Royal Commission into local government and planning law reform to undertake a comprehensive and evidenced based inquiry into options to strengthen local democracy, participation and interaction, improve environmental outcomes, streamline decision making, align planning and delivery between central and local government and the private sector and enhance the provision of local government services.

The NZPI encourages the Productivity Commission and the Government to involve planners and stakeholder parties in this process and consider the suggestions of the NZCID report. A full copy of Sir Geoffrey’s address can be found here.

For further information please contact Bryce Julyan, Chair of NZPI, on 027 440 5464 or Make Lemonade media specialist Kip Brook on 0275 030188.

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