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In 2013, National released a consultation document on a proposed overhaul of the Resource Management Act. They claimed the RMA was holding back economic progress, was causing a disastrous housing shortage, and was forcing up the cost of development through wasteful bureaucratic processes.

What has evolved has exposed the very worst of MMP politics.

At the time, two of the government’s three coalition partners baulked at the idea of any resource management reforms that involved changes to the Purpose and Principles of the Act – sections 6 and 7. Neither Peter Dunne’s UnitedFuture Party, nor the Maori Party, could be convinced that economic development should be given the same weight in law as environmental protection.

Only the ACT Party supported National’s call for a rebalancing of the law so economic benefits could be considered on the same footing as environmental concerns, when resource consents were being sought. But with the two parties being one vote short of a majority in Parliament, the reforms did not have the numbers to proceed and were shelved.

National included RMA reform in their 2014 election manifesto, and once back in government outlined ten priority changes: adding natural hazards, recognising urban planning, prioritising housing affordability, acknowledging the importance of infrastructure, giving greater weight to property rights, introducing national planning templates, speeding up plan-making, encouraging collaborative processes, strengthening national tools, and making greater use of the internet.

They planned to introduce a Bill into Parliament in the first half of this year, with a view to passing it into law by Christmas. With the support of ACT, National had the numbers.

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