RMA must move with the times

WARWICK RASMUSSEN - DEPUTY EDITOR
Last updated 13:25 29/10/2012

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OPINION: As far as laws go, it's one of our most powerful and controversial.

The Resource Management Act is now 21 years old and set for an overhaul.

Finance Minister Bill English wants the act to be changed to make it easier for developers to build houses, among other things.

Since it was adopted it has had eight amendments to make it more manageable and fairer to all involved.

At the time it was introduced, the RMA was a revolutionary piece of legislation. It did a lot of good things. It untangled the nest of laws and bylaws that allowed New Zealanders to go about their life and business.

It was far more streamlined than the jumble before it and brought in a raft of new environmental considerations that were previously ignored or given lip service.

The RMA has arguably improved the situation, but has not been without its share of critics because of the way it has been applied.

Some developers feel that the act makes it too costly to get things done, with compliance obstacles scattered throughout the process.

It can also be overly complicated to deal with and can be punitive.

That said, it is important to strike the right balance when working on, and with, our natural resources.

Major pieces of law need to be reviewed from time to time. Just look at other areas such as the Crimes Act and the rigmarole surrounding the changes to our liquor laws.

New Zealand is such a different country from when the law was drafted all those years ago, and the law needs to move with it.

No law is perfect and the RMA's amendments are testament to that.

Changing the law to help speed up the building process for homes is one thing, but the enforcement and regulation of those rules will largely be left to councils.

They will need a clear and unambiguous message from central government about the aims of any transformed RMA.

Otherwise there will be no lesson learned from the past 21 years.

ONE MORE THING

Congratulations to Eddie Freeman, who went like a rocket along Ohakea Air Force Base's runway to break the national land speed record. His 355.48kmh in his Lamborghini beat the former record by 7kmh, a record that stood for 16 years.

It takes a lot of factors to have a crack at such records: money, the right car, the right weather, a long enough piece of road, guts and luck. Who knows how long Eddie will hold the record, but it's his for now.

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- Manawatu Standard

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