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RMA Potent for the Wrong Reasons

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Rob West
Rob West
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The outline for the RMA has been sprung upon the public of New Zealand, and as expected National have seen fit to reduce our rights and plump those of the corporate. The Greens, Greenpeace and Forest and Bird have all come down on the reform as being highly favourable to the wealthy, and to the less wealthy it has created more barriers to entry to the decision making process.

Russell Norman, co-leader of the Greens, has said “while there are a few positive elements in the amendments announced today, overall they will make it harder for ordinary New Zealanders to participate in local decision making in their community”, though “on the positive side, increasing the fines for corporate consent breaches is a step forward. Large dairy companies that destroy rivers have laughed at the ludicrously low fines awarded by the Environment Court in the past.”

Whilst Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell says “It will be a very sad day for the environment and our communities when only those who can afford expensive lawyers can have a say. Most of the proposed changes will make the RMA easier for very big, wealthy companies and rich individuals.”

“Removing most of the checks and balances and the right of appeal on the development of regional and district plans is also a big concern,” Kevin Hackwell says. “Rather than speed up the planning process, the proposals will inevitably lead to poorly constructed and inefficient plans that will create problems for everyone.”

Interestingly Greenpeace have emphasised our international image. This is partly due to the recent emphasis on environmentalism by some of the international big guns such as Obama and Cameron but also the tourist factor. “In these times of economic crisis, one of our key means of survival will be our clean green brand. Weakening New Zealand’s environmental laws is counterproductive because it will leave that brand in tatters” said Greenpeace Political Advisor Geoff Keey.

There were positive points to the bill such as the afore mentioned increase in fines and support for it as would be expected.

All in all though the decrease in the people’s rights is the key issue here and it is pretty despicable that in a declining economy there should be cost increases to having your say and trying to make your country a better place for your children.

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