Prime Minister John Key opens door to deal with Winston Peters over RMA
Prime Minister John Key has opened the door to a deal with NZ First leader Winston Peters over reform of the Resource Management Act - even if it means winding back concessions to the Maori Party.
Last year, the Government backed off planned changes to the RMA that would have altered its key definitions, giving the economy greater weight alongside environmental issues.
But it made several concessions to the Maori Party to gain its support - although only to the select committee stage.
Speaking to reporters in Auckland following Wednesday's State of the Nation speech, in which he emphasised the need to change the RMA to help boost house-building, Key appeared to offer Peters an olive branch.
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"He's in a perfect position.
"If he wants to support the National Government, come with his own set of proposals for the RMA and vote for it we're more than happy to sit down with him and do that," Key said.
In his State of the Nation speech to Orewa Rotary on Tuesday, Peters warned that the concessions were leading down the path of separatism.
He said Key's government had not yet approached NZ First for support.
"Under the new bill, every council in New Zealand will be required by law, to invite the local iwi to 'discuss, agree and record ways in which tangata whenua' through iwi authorities, can participate in the formulation of policy plans, including water management plans," he said.
"They were bent over a barrel and not surprisingly, didn't have the back bone to stand up to them.
"Nor did they have the common sense to look around to the one party that could help - New Zealand First.
"The proposed changes to the RMA are a signal flare to the entire country that the two parties are taking us down the track of separatism. We are no longer one people. We are moving towards two separate groups with separate rights," Peters added.
Peters said NZ First would move amendments to cut red tape and bring common sense to the RMA.
"We will do so on one condition, that National will drop all provisions in the bill that provide separate rights based on race," he said.
Key said National had always been searching for partners to pass its RMA changes and there was no guarantee that the reforms would get out of the select committee.
"We always said we would prefer others to vote with us on it," the Prime Minister said.
Asked if he would be prepared to wind back the concessions to the Maori Party to get that support, Key responded by saying, "what we need is 61-plus votes to get that out of select committee. We are happy to work with any political party to make that happen."