Labour's finance spokesman David Parker this morning jibed that Act-held Epsom should be used to trial that party's policy of abolishing the Resource Management Act to demonstrate how unworkable the idea is.

The RMA featured in early discussions between Finance Minister Bill English, Mr Parker, Greens Co-leader Russel Norman and Act Leader Jamie Whyte at the Deloitte-BusinessNZ Election Conference this morning in Wellington.

Dr Whyte told the audience of about 300 that the RMA was one of the key obstacles to more affordable housing, particularly in Auckland where land made up about 60 per cent of the price of a house.

He said the underpinnings of the Act were so vague that there was little certainty for those including developers who were subject to it and as such it effectively undermined the rule of law.

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Act's policy is to abolish the RMA which Dr Whyte says would free up the supply of land for residential building.

In a light hearted dig at Dr Whyte, Mr Parker said "we've promised Epsom that if we're elected and they elect Act we'd like an RMA-free zone for Epsom and see how long it is before they want the RMA back".

"A few more prisons, nice five-storey buildings blocking everyone's view, all permitted without the RMA", he said, drawing laughter from the audience.

Earlier, Mr English said his Government wanted to reform the RMA to shorten the process and reduce costs for applicants to make it less discouraging to investment while preserving the right of communities to be heard.

But despite having "80 per cent agreement" from parties across the political spectrum the bill wasn't passed before Parliament rose for the election due to the loss of Act's vote.

The bill was still "sitting there" and would be revisited if National won a third term.

ROTORUA DAILY POST
7 Sep, 2014 5:00pm
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Tax was the other big issue at this morning's conference with Dr Whyte saying beyond his party's goal to reduce the corporate rate from 28 per cent to 20 per cent, which he said would boost economic growth, Act wanted to drop the rate ultimately to 12.5 per cent.

Mr English said paying down debt was a higher priority for National than corporate tax rate cuts.

Mr Parker said Labour planned to reduce the tax burden on businesses but through mechanisms such as research and development tax breaks rather than through a corporate rate cut.